Saturday, January 30, 2010


Rented myself a truck and plan on heading out of town for a few days.

I always stress trips like this until I'm on the road. Being me, I run through every scenario, make sure I have everything I need, and try not to be jittery. The road getting somewhere is always longer the first time, while it seems to go by too quickly on the return trip. Here I sit, generally pissed off for no reason hoping tomorrow goes well.

Everything I've written lately screams of ultra-violence and I've been thinking my SS System needs some tweaks to bring it up to the proper level. When I sit and think about combat and the powerlessness everyone involved in a gunfight has relative to the circumstances, mechanical reinforcement within a fictional setting seems to romanticize that violence. When a character is fighting for their life in the story, I marvel at how often it is portrayed casually, as though the outcome were certain.

Even in stories where the bad guys often win, the formula is often designed to satisfy the audience's desire for a sort of flawed justice. Even in my own readings I'm drawn to crime stories where there are consequences for the antagonists and the protagonists for every action they take to thwart or outdo the other. The visceral, frantic, dirty, panicked movements of real life combat are often completely lost in fictional representations.

Take all that and add it to a modern audience already heavily desensitized to graphic violence.

- Protagonist is forced into action by Antagonist by some means.
- Protagonist swears to acquire vengeance, justice, resolution.
- Protagonist exchange physical blows and snappy catch phrases.
- At some point the Protagonist will have to walk toward the camera with an explosion or burning structure in the background.
- Protagonist and Antagonist clash in a mighty final battle with one forgone conclusion.

So tired of this canned crap approach to stories with violence.

Captain Sunshine vs. Doctor Evilpants type stuff has its place in camp, but not when talking about a serious story of conflict where it is regular folks risking their lives which make the difference.

I really dig...

... protagonists who find violence abhorrent, using it as a last resort, fighting when there is no other choice.

... when the Antagonist is someone the audience (me) can empathize with and even mourn if defeated.

... stories that approach conflict as though they were tragedies that give Protagonist and Antagonist pause for introspection in the aftermath.

... everyman heroes who made the choice to confront injustice for its own sake.

... villains that could be anyone, utterly lacking manufactured or contrived circumstances for their motivations.

... supporting characters that grant the story and everything in it a separate perspective that forces me to reconsider everything happening in the story at regular intervals.

I should print this out to remind me as I continue down the road of developing characters and locations for my works. This is something my Dad does all the time, makes lists to remind himself.

I'll add these to the list just for good measure:

Learn to relax.

Love yourself.

Seek Solace.

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