C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

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The “I Want to Watch You Suffer” Rant

Sure, I don’t like you. In fact, sometimes I hate your guts. Sometimes I want to stab you in the eye with a Number 2 pencil and then slit you open with an Exacto knife, take a blow torch to your pancreas and, while you’re thinking about that, slowly strangle you with loops of your own intestines. Look up the word decerebrate. That’s what’s next. (Yes, I’m talking about your characters.)

The many reasons I despise you make you more interesting, so I’ll be glad to read about you or watch you on-screen. Gee whiz, I sure hope I get to watch you suffer! As somebody pithy said, “TV allows you to have people in your livingroom you’d never want in your livingroom.” Writers are often told that it’s important your protagonist is a likeable character. Ahem. Fiction is full of people, heroes and anti-heroes, who have traits that are unappealing. I want to read about people dealing with complications who are full of doubt–just like me. Their flaws make them believable. I prefer psychotic Batman to the perfect, impervious boy scout that is Superman.  Superman’s too hard to kill. Shoot Batman in the face and he’s dead. (Why don’t they just shoot him in the face? He’s more vulnerable so he’s more interesting.)

I haven’t seen a better illustration of this than the anti-hero bound for quasi-redemption in District 9. Here’s a guy who is a nerdy bureaucrat who gleefully kills little alien babies. <SPOILER ALERT> You don’t actually make it all the way to liking him, but amid the action you begin to feel sorry for him as he literally becomes his victim.

But what do I know? All through Star Wars I was cheering for Darth Vader to cut that simpering Jedi school dropout Luke Skywalker into light saber-diced cheese. Or is it really Mark Hamill I loathe?


Is your book a happy story? Those tend to suck.

Filed under: publishing, Rant, rules of writing, , ,

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