Thursday, June 19, 2014

TED Talk Thursday with J.J. Abrams: The Mystery Box

So, I'm taking a writing class with the amazing Erica Orloff. A part of the first assignment is for us to think about why we write what we write.

J.J. Abrams starts out his TED talk the same way--talking through why he does what he does.

He starts painting a picture of his influences--a grandfather who opened up machines with him so he could explore what was inside, a love for magic, an assisting grandmother, and we start to see why he does what he does. We start to understand why he creates what he does. It's fascinating. But the talk doesn't end there.

J.J. explains that "mystery is more important than knowledge." And I see it--his perspective--in every show that he makes. The mystery is the ride.

And generally, mystery provides us with the hook to pull us forward in stories. Suspense is all about what you DON'T say.

The whole talk is marvelous, and he shows my favorite scene in Jaws (and the shark isn't in it).

Check it out:

Can't see the talk? Click here.

ROFL--"10 years ago, if we wanted to do that, we'd have to kill a stuntman." He's a funny dude. :)

Oh, and this:
I realize that that blank page is a magic box, you know? It needs to be filled with something fantastic....You know, I love Apple computers. I'm obsessed. So the Apple computer -- this computer, right, it challenges me. It basically says, "what are you going to write worthy of me?" I feel this -- I'm compelled. And I often am like, you know, dude, today I'm out. I got nothing. You know?
Of course, he's brilliant, and he breaks it all down in a way we can all can get to it.

Do you know why you do what you do? Why you write what you write? There is a great exercise for figuring this out in the beginning of John Truby's The Anatomy of Story.