Writing About Good Things

January 26, 2010

In the past few years some of the best acting has come from actors inhabiting a dark place. Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood; Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men; Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. I love a good, dark film; they strike me as much truer to life than the typical romantic comedy/feel-good story. I think feel good stories and romantic comedies face a bit of a handicap when trying to get us to suspend disbelief, though. I hope I take nothing away from those three actors when I say it is easier to play a bad person convincingly than it is to be genuinely good, and this is why, I think, we end up hailing those performances. It is so much easier to tap into that dark place inside ourselves and unleash a convincing portrayal of that darkness than it is to play a truly good person and have that come off convincingly.

I’m reminded of (nerd alert) Star Wars, when Luke asks Yoda if the Dark Side of the Force is stronger. “No, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.” Anger, rage, evil… it’s just easier to do, easier to pull off.

I think this ends up being true of writing, as well. It is difficult to write a happy story without it coming across saccharine. My mom noticed the other day that I tend to write my longest posts about things I’m angry about, and that most of my posts end up being about things that upset me. When I write about things I like the posts are embarrassingly short. A few weeks ago I endorsed M.I.A.’s Arular, and gave a review of it that was about five sentences long. Hardly enough to do the album justice. Even this post is going to end up being nowhere near as long as some of my other, more incendiary topics.

Later this week, or perhaps next week, I’ll put some posts up about some music I’ve been listening to lately that I’ve really liked. Something good to write about.

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One Response to “Writing About Good Things”

  1. Katie said

    So true! Not too long ago I read something along these lines by an author that I really admire…and I can’t for the life of me remember just who it was. Possibly Madeleine L’Engle. I know she deals with stuff like that. And she also writes believable good characters, in my opinion.

    The trick with writing or acting good characters and making them believable is, well, the fact that every single person has a great deal of darkness in them. I think the drama in our lives comes mostly from the struggle against it, and the consequences of it. Therefore if you have a “wholesome” character (or subject matter), there’s just not much to say about them!

    Anyways, those are my “I just woke up” thoughts. Looking forward to a little change-up. :)

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