I had a new experience since my last post. Somebody online got a bit aggressive in a discussion and I felt somewhat like it was a personal attack. Thankfully, it got no worse because I did not respond.
I’m well aware I may be the only person on this blog, ironically, never to have had this happen before, so I’m not going to act like it was a big deal. It is actually the topic we were discussing that bothered me, because I’ve known many people to get defensive about it.
Well, specifically, I’ve known many people to get defensive about how they like to watch horror movies, or read what I would call horror novels, though I believe they are mostly known as Young Adult Fiction. (Yeah, burn.)
Seriously, the amount of times this conversation has happened is a bit scary to me:
Me: You like to watch so and so?
Person: Yeah, I love that (show, movie, etc.)
Me: But it’s horrible.
Person: ( a little less enthusiastically) but I like it.
Me: But stuff like that leaves images in your brain…
Person: But I know it’s not real.
Me: just because it’s not real…
Person: Well, it doesn’t affect me.
It doesn’t always happen in that order, but I can almost guarantee the words “I like it”,”It’s not real”, and “It doesn’t affect me”, will come up.
I should fill in a little bit more of that online debate. See the debate was about books and writing, not movies. That’s mainly because the people I was having it with are readers, and likely not as big on movies as the people I debate movies with. I used to assume that people who were readers didn’t have the same problems (content-wise) as people who weren’t, but I have been disillusioned.
I find to my shock that many teens of about my age or younger write mainly one kind of story. You know the type if you’ve ever browsed through the Young adult section in a bookstore or library. (I avoid that section now.) It’s dramatic, it’s about teens, it usually involves mutants, vampires, zombies, or a post apocalyptic setting that might have a combination of two or all of those choices. The narration is usually in first-person. There is a lot of fear, confusion, and fighting back happening in that person’s mind, soul, or surroundings. On top of this, the person tends to be either incredibly immature, or incredibly callous and cynical. And they can be as young as 12 or as old as 16, usually.
My point being, these books are almost always garbage. Even if they are well-written, there are still several inherent problems with them.
The first one would be they are extremely dark. And that is what my debate centered on, how dark can a book be? (And still be healthy? I presume is the implied question.) Most of the people in this online thing thought it was all right to put a lot of darkness in a story, if, in the end, good overcomes it. Others cautioned against putting too much, and one or two thought it was perfectly fine to get in touch with you inner-villain and go all out on your characters.
Something you guys need to know about fiction writers: our characters become real to us.
The evil characters are not like real people to me, personally, but the ones between good and evil can be, and the good characters always develop a lot of personality.
But the good ones suffer the most, and that is why the darkness question centers on them. But it also centers on the reader. And on the movie watcher, because movies and books have this in common, they make you, the participant, part of the adventure. They have you rooting for the hero and getting upset when things turn out badly. At least this is what a movie is intended to do. A book does even more in that it can leave it up to you to judge what should have happened. A book gets your mind involved, a movie may only get your emotions. Either way, you are meant to get something out of it.
If there is a lot of darkness in a book, that is what the reader will walk away with. I once got a nightmare from such a book, and I am not a person who usually gets nightmares relating to what I read. When I read such stuff, something inside me just says “This is not right.” But personal feelings aside, I think there are biblical reasons not to focus on darkness.
Suffering, evil, and all that goes with it are a part of life. But going to great lengths in your imagination to see and create such things is unhealthy. We are not meant to live that stuff on purpose. As evidenced by the fact that actors who played too many psycho characters have committed suicide, and many bands that have music centered on darkness are not composed of very stable people.
All I am stating is common sense. If this is where darkness leads then don’t go there. But it makes people angry when I knock their favorite material. Which to me is more evidence in my favor. If someone knocks my reading and watching habits, I’m not going to get super defensive unless I personally have misgivings about it already. When I am confident it’s good, I don’t give a rip what anyone says.
But if a part of me were saying “maybe this isn’t good for me.” I would be defensive, or, I’d choose the better option of considering that this person might be right.
That’s what I ask of my readers, who may already agree with me, or maybe only read all of this because they were mad. I can’t know for certain.
But I know that this stuff is important. The fact that it is fiction only means that it represents what people will learn to expect instead of what they already have; and if you expect bad things, you will get bad things. That’s all I have to say on that. Until next time-Natasha.