Note Number 4…Getting Involved with the Story…

radio

BBC Radio 4 ‘The Archers…’

 

What makes us become so involved with a story? I’m thinking here of the recent events in The Archers between Helen and Rob Titchener. Even if you don’t listen to the programme on BBC Radio 4, there has been much talk on the Internet about Rob’s ‘coercive control’ behaviour, Helen’s stabbing of him and subsequent trial by jury which found her not guilty of Attempted Murder or Wounding with Intent. I got to the point earlier in 2016 when I had to stop listening because I became so emotionally involved with the storyline and began to hate Rob so much (I’m not really a hating sort of person) and wanted Helen to speak up for herself even though I understood why she wouldn’t. I worried about her son Henry and baby Jack.  I couldn’t bear to listen to the lies Rob told and just desperately wanted someone to remove him from storyline and I didn’t care how they did it. He could have been run over by a slow moving rubbish truck or cornered in a field by a flock of maggot ridden sheep and trampled to death. I’ve always maintained that whatever the circumstances, I could never bring myself to kill anyone but…Rob must have stirred something deep in my psyche…

If this had been a novel, what would I have done? Stopped reading? Turned to the back of the book to see the ending or skipped a few pages so that I could see how the story might be trending? What I did with The Archers was to read the twitter feed and check the the full synopsis on the BBC website. All this before I dared listen to any of the episodes, and, if I thought it was going to be too horrible then I would give that one a miss.

As a writer, I do not have the same fear for my characters even though I become inextricably involved in their lives and I care about them. I get excited about what they might get up to. I don’t mind getting them into awkward situations, killing them off, having them lie, becoming murderers and all number of other horrible things. I know where they’re going and I know their motives and I can control them – to a certain extent. But, have I got the knack to move my readers to the extent that I have been moved by The Archers? Is it the acting, the script or the storyline that are pulling me apart?

I do know people who can watch/read/listen to pretty much anything fictional that’s scary/disturbing/ghastly etc., and not be concerned. ‘It’s only a story, what’s your problem?’ they say as I hide behind a cushion, run out to the bathroom at a crucial moment or distract my mind by checking my emails on my phone or making a cup of tea.

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What are you like? Do you become drawn into a story to the point of screaming at the book/screen/radio, throwing the book/TV/Radio, in total frustration even though you KNOW it’s just a story and that the people aren’t real? That’s the bit that worries me about The Archers. I know it’s all fiction but I can’t help worrying about Helen and getting exasperated with characters who can’t see any wrong in Rob and worst of all I want Rob DEAD and he’s not even properly alive! I wonder how much hate mail he has received? I’ve only written a couple of letters…

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One thought on “Note Number 4…Getting Involved with the Story…

  1. ‘Kill ’em all – God will know his own’ [Arnaud Amalric – Catholic Bishop of Citeaux – Beziers France July 1209].He didn’t mind offing a few principal characters …

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