Season XV – Alphaday 10

Hi Alphas,

Welcome to Alphaday 10, Season XV. We’re ready for another full Alphaday with all the writerly treats you’ve come to expect, and I’m confident you’ll enjoy every part of it. From now on, and until the end of this season, however, some of our items will appear for the last time until after the lengthy summer break. This is the case with this season’s last regular challenge that you’ll receive the brief for today. Make the most of it and give it your all; you’ll come to miss the challenges before September and the new season come round.

Our ever-willing Alphas have once more been busy concocting today’s Alphaday menu. We’ve all done our bit for the various slots and those in charge have sorted out our contributions and prepared them in an appetising way for our consumption.

The agenda is as follows:

  • This bulletin from me
  • The results of the tourist article challenge from Sally
  • The collated entries for the newspaper headline challenge from Zena
  • The brief for Challenge 8 from Phil
  • Your Log 5 news from Sally

What more could you possibly want?

I’m happy to leave it to Sally to deliver any news from individual Alpha members in the Log. I’m sure you’ve all got plenty of writerly excitement to share with the group.

General news.

There’s one topic I’m not even going to mention! Instead I’ve looked at whatever has happened in the lofty realms of culture and the arts. The death of Agnès Varda brought back the atmosphere of wonder that La Nouvelle Vague – the New Wave – introduced into the seventh art during the last half of the last century. That sounds as if it belongs to ancient history. I think those films are still remarkably fresh.

Agnès Varda said that despite the fact that she and a number of equally brilliant (mainly) French film directors were credited for having created the Nouvelle Vague, they had nothing in common – no particular style, no programme. All they wanted was individual change to something new. Somebody said that they were ‘the opposite of formulaic’. That, I thought, sounds perfect. Throw out stereotypes like John Wayne: virile, tough, macho, righteous. And Marilyn Monroe: vulnerable, sexy, fragile. Hollywood movies were exactly that: ‘formulaic’. La Nouvelle Vague is about real contemporary people and they have a lingering, slow focus on the personal rather than some ideal.

‘Hold on a minute!’ I then thought. What’s wrong with ‘formulaic’ in the wider sense? Fairy tales are superbly formulaic with their princesses and princes – and so are westerns and crime novels. Novels have heroes and heroines. Aren’t they just princes and princesses? Novels are supposed to have a structure, a story arc etc. Doesn’t that make them formulaic?

‘The opposite of formulaic’ is an admirable concept. Personally I’d hate my writing to be labelled ‘formulaic’. That sounds like an insult. However, when you consider the art of storytelling in a cosmic light there are certain conventions that underpin a good story in a basic, primitive way.

Agnès Varda brought a fresh, feminine input to film making. A new way of telling a good story.


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