This past weekend I found myself at the end of my friends’ wedding ceremony, shirtless, with ripped suit pants, and a GoPro strapped to my head. There’s a story behind that description, but I’m not telling it here. However, I will discuss why this state of affairs makes me feel as if I behaved as any good writer should.
It’s always all about the story. So when the groom asked if I would use his GoPro to record the wedding, I was thrilled. Often, wedding videos are a third-person narration of the event, and are not as intimate as the genuine experience. That’s not to say the jarring and boisterous images I caught are worthy of cinematography, but the first-person narration they are is much more close to the reality of what it was like to be on top of the mountain, in the ballroom and especially on the dance floor. That aspect is the same in writing. I’ve read hundreds of third person point of view novels, and there is nothing inherently wrong with the narrative decision, but I always find myself wondering how the story would sound from the inside, not from the onlooker’s perspective. I hope my recording accurately depicts what is what like from within.
Every good story has an excellent cast of characters. Weddings are a wellspring for watching human nature interact in its myriad forms. Therefore, capturing not only the bride and groom––the main characters––but the family, friends, and colleagues is equally vital. What do they say? How do they act? How awesome do they dance? They are a beautiful microcosm trying to make the evening work for the two people they are all in attendance for. I did my best to tell their stories as well, seeing what they saw, understanding the bride and groom as they know them. It’s the same with my characters. I care equally for them and try to make their existence as interesting as possible while remembering how much their depth adds to the story as a whole.
The last important piece of storytelling is being open to the organic way in which the story unfolds. Many weddings follow a familiar script, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t deviation. At this wedding there was no DJ, but a rock band. There wasn’t a wedding cake, but homemade pies. There were no bridesmaids or groomsmen, just friends and family supporting. This was how their story was supposed to be, for them, and it worked, in part because of how the dance floor stuck to the script, by becoming a focus: would people get up and get down, or would they sit it out at the table? I think if you paid attention to my introduction, you know the answer: we rocked it. And the stories from there abound, and will continue to be told again, and again, unfolding for those both in, and not in attendance, creating a story of a story––legend.
What more could a storyteller want?
Thanks, Anna and Gordon. May all of your stories have a happy ending.