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Tricks Authors Use: perhaps we should reexamine these

It’s been a long while since I wrote about Fiction writing in the abstract.

I was visiting at the home of a friend, and stayed overnight.  In the morning, I came into their television room, to find a particularly violent episode of a TV series playing.  I had seen earlier episodes of this series in another location, and I began to think about how TV writers become successful.

Success in TV series writing comes when a TV series grabs the viewers’ attention over several episodes, ideally an entire season.  How does one do that?

Increasingly frequently, at least some writers seem to be using hate as a tool.  How?  They create a character, or an incident, calculated to trigger intense indignation or anger in the viewers.  Of course, this has been a time-honored ploy in literature: you always make a favorite character have to suffer something really horrible, and that drives the plot along.  But now, with scores of writers competing for the attention of a fickle audience, the less talented among them must invent increasingly horrible things to happen to their heroes, in order to keep their viewers angry enough to tune in to the next episode.  On top of everything, drugs, crime and violence in reality seem to compete with fiction to be each more horrible than the other, so what with life out-horrifying art, TV viewers are seeing an fearsome volume of harshness and cruelty on the small screen, and inevitably, the audience becomes jaded, and inured to cruelty.

I, myself, have never been able to create a truly despicable villain.  This probably accounts for how little success I have achieved!  Still, I despise this whole business of calculatedly creating a villain in order to make a piece of fiction successful.  I think a story in which the cruelty is incidental is superior to one in which the cruelty or horror is calculated to arouse the desire to see retribution within the audience.

So, if there are authors among you readers, please consider toning down your imagination for horror, and deliberate cruelty, or ruthlessness.  It is a tough assignment, especially in these days when ruthless criminals are a dime a dozen; we almost have to invent a super-ruthless criminal to make any headway.  But don’t; the cost is too high.  My heart quails to imagine what psychic damage must result in a young person who sees senseless cruelty day after day.


This post first appeared on Fiction From K Brown, please read the originial post: here

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Tricks Authors Use: perhaps we should reexamine these


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