Friday, May 30, 2014

So Misunderstood

Day One of my writing retreat was rather successful. I managed more than 5,000 words. I'd like to top that today, but I have some thinking/brainstorming to do. I've reached a part of the story where I know what the outcome needs to be, but I'm still fuzzy on the details of exactly how it will happen. Now I need specifics, both in actions and in the sense of what it will look like. I've been looking forward to this part of the story for ages, so I'm eager to see it play out, while also a little nervous about it living up to my expectations.

I've already done the grocery shopping, and I resisted the urge to buy snack foods. I don't need that, even if it is fun. Instead, I can make popcorn if I need food for thought. If I'm really desperate, I can make brownies.

This kind of productivity as I near the end is pretty much my process. I can spend months on the first half of a book, then write the last half in a week.

However, I may not be entirely coherent at the end of that week.

I was slightly tempted by the opening of Maleficent this weekend, but the newspaper review used the word "misunderstood," and that dampened my enthusiasm. I'm so tired of the villain who's really just misunderstood. Yes, that does sometimes happen, where people fear things they don't understand, and that worked very well in Frozen. But is there possibly any good but "misunderstood" motivation for cursing a newborn infant? I really, really hate it when they make it so that it's the good guy's fault that the bad guy is evil, and often the writers are so unaware of what they're doing that they undermine their own premise, so that the good guy suffers just as much as the bad guy without turning into a psychopath, and yet we're supposed to feel sorry for the bad guy for making really bad choices in response to his/her suffering.

Any writer who claims that the villains are more fun/easier to write and that writing good characters is boring is a lazy writer. The good characters can be far more interesting and complex if you're doing it right because it's easy to have someone respond badly to bad events. To me, there's a lot more meat to work with in exploring how and why someone uses a bad event as an opportunity to turn things around and get even better. I read an interesting psychology book a couple of years ago about how the emphasis on PTSD has had some backlash because now people expect to have problems after trauma. But it's actually more common for people to use trauma as a means of getting better, stronger or more compassionate, and yet no one hears about this. When they started talking about this possibility with combat veterans, their outcomes improved significantly because they realized they didn't have to be victims of their experiences. Yes, there's trauma, and that needs to be acknowledged and treated, but the outcome doesn't have to be negative. So, to me, exploring the psyche of a person who's had negative experiences and made positive choices in response to them is more interesting than delving into someone who uses negative experiences as an excuse for bad behavior.

Now to go figure out what happens next.

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