Above is Paperman, a short animated movie void of any script. In my final experiment, I wrote a sequel, and to contrast the lack of script in Paperman, I wrote Sans Paper void of any script. In an unusual twist, I decided not to engage with the dark side, and actually try and write something kind of nice. I think my main motivation to do that was to actually challenge the views that get my so riled up in Boy, rather than to just repeat those views.
Her: “Oh, you’re here early. I wasn’t prepared.”
Him: “Yeah...sorry about that.”
Her: “Aw, don’t apologise. Come here. Mmm...”
Him: “Huh...I could get used to a greeting like that.”
Her: “Well, come on. I haven’t finished cleaning up, so the place is a bit messy.”
Him: “Oh, no, not at all. Actually, it looks great in here...ahem...like...you...?”
Her: “Haha...oh, that’s so cheesy. Here, let me show you around. Oh, just take your shoes off – Taylor gets pretty uptight about that.”
Him: “Oh, sorry.”
Her: “You don’t have to keep apologising, it’s okay.”
Him: “I’m sorry.”
Her: “Hehe. So, this is the living room. We do living in it.”
Him: “That’s a beautiful painting. How’d you come by it?”
Her: “It was a housewarming present from my parents. I asked how they got it and a very long, boring story followed. After a half hour monologue...monologue? Dialogue? They were both speaking. I wasn’t speaking. Anyway, after a half hour somethingalogue, I think the conclusion was that they bought it at the shops.”
Him: “Wow, that is exciting!”
Her: “Riveting! Here’s the kitchen. We kitch in it. Bathroom’s down there.”
Him: “Whatever you’ve got cooking smells amazing. Mmm, I smell garlic...rosemary...and definitely some kind of roast. Beef?”
Together: “...you had some news?”
Her: “Oh, awkward turtle.”
Together: “You go—
Him: “Mmm-no-no-no-no-no. We’re not doing that cliché.”
Her: “Okay then. I’ll go. So...I got the job.”
Him: “That’s great!”
Her: “Thankyou. After that third interview, I really wasn’t sure I’d get it. The interviewer seemed really cold. But I’m so glad they accepted me.”
Him: “The third interview...that’s the one when I was...heh...trying to paper plane you?”
Her: “Mmm, that one.”
Him: “When do you start?”
Her: “Four weeks from now. That gives me plenty of time to hand in my notice at work. Oooh, I’m so looking forward to it!”
Him: “That’s really great. I’m so happy for you.”
Her: “Uh—urgh, you’re crushing me!”
Him: “Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to...hm.”
Her: “You...don’t look very happy.”
Him: “...I just...I hope I’ll have news like yours soon. Very soon.”
Her: “I didn’t know you were looking to change jobs.”
Him: “Well, I wasn’t looking, but...apparently – who knew? – throwing all your paperwork out the window and abandoning work halfway through the day is a career-limiting move.”
Her: “O, oh...aww, come here.”
Him: “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Her: “Hey, there are plenty of jobs out there. You’ll be fine.”
Him: “That’s comforting, but I don’t think the world works that easily.”
Her: “You know what? This isn’t the end. This is the beginning of a new story. You told me that you wished for something more meaningful than stamping paperwork. This is your chance to do that.”
Him: “Do what?”
Her: “Change directions. Those paper planes led you to me. I think, maybe, they’re leading you to wherever you need to go. And wherever that is, it’s not where you were two weeks ago. Let’s make one more paper plane and throw it out the window. Wherever it lands, that’s your new job.”
Reflection of Sans Paper
Paperman is a short film without script. Inspired by it, Sans Paper is a short story featuring only script. Using only the characters’ spoken words produces significant gaps and silences, challenging the reader to use intertextuality to fill in the missing information. Likewise, as the writer I found it particularly challenging to allude towards certain actions and scenery without overtly describing it. By developing stories that highlight the gaps and silences, students learn how to evoke meaning through minimalistic language while gaining awareness of their own reading practices and use of intertextuality.
Sans Paper is a continuation set shortly after Paperman. While Paperman provides representation for two people meeting under paranormal circumstances, Sans Paper provides representation of the possible ramifications of the two meeting and beginning to know each other. Experimenting with continuations prompts students to think outside the box. In fiction, stories traditionally have a beginning, middle and end, however by practicing continuations students are encouraged to consider how people are affected beyond the immediate circumstance, which may help them to be mindful of their own decisions.
Contrary to popular gender roles in which the male is the hero and the female needs saving, in Sans Paper I have positioned the female as successful and able to help. Meanwhile, the male, as a direct result of his actions in Paperman, has recently lost his means for living and is in need of the female’s help. Instead of reinforcing a paradigm in which women are dependent on men without men depending on women, challenging gender roles in this way gives students insight into a world of interdependence.
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