We read a lot of stories. Hopefully, most of them are interesting – I guess that’s why we read most of them, since the bad ones don’t get circulated that often. Either way, often, the most interesting part of a story is often what we don’t hear about.
I was struck by this when thinking about a book that Robyn Davidson wrote about a trip across the west Australian desert on camels. I haven’t read the book, but it’s also been turned into a movie recently. This is all very nice – but the big part that’s missing is the why of the whole thing; Why travel across the harsh australian desert? Why pack up from urbane Sydney and move to Alcie Springs, with no goals; I think it’s more interesting than the story of a trip, but then again, I haven’t read the book.
In fiction, the best example is of Rosencratz and Guildenstern in Hamlet: They disappear off stage, with orders to be murdered. It was such a good mystery that Tom Stoppard decided to make a play out of it, to help us with the fantasy.
I think this is usaully the most interesting part of any conversation. What people don’t talk about. Look for the mysteries.