Know Jack #49

If you want to become a writer, one of the best things you can do while engaged it stimulating studies of subject-verb agreement and the like is to develop a thick skin. Rejection, criticism, and opposition are a way of life for people putting their thoughts and ideas into the public arena. For most of the writers I know, this talent to persevere is as natural as thinking. You see we live not only with an overactive imagination, but a hyper-drive of self-criticism, and over-thinking everything. 

One thing about writing that does bother me is that writers bound to print are held to unfair standards. Despite the fact that we are writing fiction, we are required to make sense, be consistent, and be innovative in a way that screenwriters, filmmakers, and plain old folks are not. Let me share a few examples of the unjust obstacles with which writers must contend. (Like structuring this sentence so it doesn’t end with the word “with.”

My grandson, Bryan and I were watching one of those apocalyptic movies. The evil, insane preacher after terrifying and innocent family with his congregation of brainless dolts, confronted the upstanding, but rather sissified, father trying to save his family at the front door. Dad has both barrels of a 12 gauge shotgun leveled at the evil preacher’s midsection. Bryan and I are saying, “Shoot him you jackass!” But of course, he doesn’t…he’s too full of love. Of course, a matter of seconds later after the guy’s daughter is in the hands of the evil congregation and he kills everybody. Common sense and rational father thinking be damned, right? I would never get away with that crap. 

I recently wrote a scene in which the protagonist expressed belief he was being haunted and disbelief in ghosts a few lines of dialogue later. He’s being inconsistent in his beliefs and his statements. My editor called me on it and was absolutely right to do so. The unfairness lies in that if this jerk as real, he’d be on Facebook talking out of both sides of his mouth and getting a hundred likes for both stances. 

Who wants me to tell you about the clumsy woman and her twisted ankle? Yeah, it’s so old that it will premier at the movies next week. Filmmakers must not have anyone looking over their shoulder saying, “Haven’t we done that to death?” I won’t even mention the cat lurking in the trash can or suspicious box waiting for the hero to open it so it can jump out and startle the audience.

If you want to do it well writing unfair. Wouldn’t change it for the world.  

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