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When Being Confined

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 4, 2020

Nearly a billion people, perhaps more, are being confined in their homes as you read these lines, due to the Covid-19 quarantine to stem the pandemic. A good percentage are going stir-crazy right now, or are juggling with the limitations and necessary work-arounds of having to stay in a single enclosure. A wide range of things we're used to doing every day without even a thought, now become problems we need to creatively solve, or wait on authorities to facilitate for us. It's a hassle that can turn into a real problem.

And it makes for great storytelling.

Of course, as it holds for all stories, if done right. And more times than not, the secret in doing it right is to keep the audience as confined as the character is, as much as possible, so they can feel the limitations, feel the frustrations, and feel the plot constricting around them.

In general, placing a specific de facto limitation on a character makes for creative reactions and character development. The way characters work around and overcome (or don't overcome) the limitation speaks to their skills, abilities, and personality.

The same mechanism works for stories. Placing a limitation on the story/plot itself can make for unusual situations and encounters, as well as interesting plot developments and suspense. When the story can only take place within one room, or only through a phone, or only by proxy, immediately suspense on how this is to be achieved builds. It's then up to the creator to keep the suspense going!

Such stories are especially good for visual storytelling, as a lot of drama and pathos can be conveyed through the angles and layouts for webcomics, and directing for movies. And they also make for good short stories- a perfect combo for inspiration when you are confined, too! Channel that frustration in a neat short story webcomic with a severe confinement or limitation of some sort, and flex those creative juices.

What's that you say? You prefer to keep on working on what you're already working? Even better! Go on then!

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Ironscarf at 10:24AM, April 6, 2020

12 Angry Men! That has to be mentioned in any discussion of one room tales (even though they did go to the rest room once or twice).

bravo1102 at 12:38AM, April 6, 2020

There's the whole genre of the "old dark house" which usually isolates a group in the house for some event and the murders start. "Clue" and "Murder by Death" are two parodies of it.

usedbooks at 3:39PM, April 5, 2020

Also, Clue is amazing. I love the rapid-fire one-liners.

usedbooks at 3:38PM, April 5, 2020

@Demas_Olich: Confinement is common among whodunnits. Best way to limit the suspect list, add tension, and give an excuse for why the case is handled by an eccentric hobbiest instead of being investigated by police in a long, procedural way. (Confinement is a staple of thrillers and horror too, because the cast is trapped with the threat.)

Demas_Olich at 3:24PM, April 5, 2020

While it took place in a house and not a single room, the movie "Clue" is ad excellent example of a story told within a confined space. Also, it's probably the best movie based on a board game.

bravo1102 at 9:13AM, April 5, 2020

Some of the best Twilght Zone episodes were all contained in one room. Five characters in search of an exit? Or how about one or two characters like Last Night of a Jockey or Nervous Man in the Four dollar Room?

hushicho at 6:39PM, April 4, 2020

Rear Window is a brilliant work of cinematic art, and it's due to the fantastic storytelling and superlative acting that made it possible. Sometimes, setting limitations for yourself can really allow you to thrive; recently I've been limiting myself by changing my page formatting, and I find it much more enjoyable and that it fosters my creative flow. There's always something that can help with creativity!

Banes at 5:41PM, April 4, 2020

btw, this gif made me look up Rear Window and watch it at last. Good stuff!

usedbooks at 6:14AM, April 4, 2020

Times like this make me want to send my characters on an epic quest! Sadly, I don't write that kind of story. (Well, I have one, but I'm not near the "travel" section yet.)

Tantz_Aerine at 5:55AM, April 4, 2020

Banes: Oh no! WHAT HAVE I DONE!

Banes at 4:44AM, April 4, 2020

Great take! Very true, and a useful way to think! It makes me want to break my characters' legs!

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