I’ve been hosting a writing workshop recently where we talk about ways to improve writing technique. While I have a lot of fun teaching this class, there are always topics that get away – There are only so many hours in a day, you know?
With that in mind, I’d like to take the time to reinforce a short, seemingly simple lesson: Good writing has consequences, or rather, good writing has the sense of consequence. Let’s dive in:
You know, I’m going to stop doubting Pixar when it comes to Toy Story movies. After 2, I was skeptical of 3, and after 3 – man did I not think 4 was going to be anything special. Somehow, however, Pixar has managed to defy the law of diminishing returns and Toy Story 4 is as amazing (if not more so) than its predecessors. From its characters to its dialogue to its unbelievable sense of self-awareness, Toy Story 4 is an unexpected gem.
But there’s one thing in particular I want to focus on: Walking out of the theater, I got the sense that the story was more familiar than I had initially thought. I’m not calling Toy Story 4 a rip-off, not by a long shot…but it definitely takes a lot of inspiration from a very unlikely source. When I call Toy Story 4 Pixar’s version of Frankenstein, please know that I’m not talking about Forky – well, not just about Forky.
Okay…since I’m watching the ending of Game of Thrones (season 8) every weekend, I naturally have a lot of thoughts on it. Without getting into too much – I don’t like it. Kudos to you if you do, but I personally feel like there is a lot lacking in Game of Thrones – and really that there has been a lot lacking for a while – now it’s just all coming to a head.
One of the aspects I miss the most: character writing. Concluding character arcs is very difficult, especially if it’s over the course of multiple novels or several years of television. Even when you’re on point, there are certain character developments that require extra time and care to make sure they’re done well. Mental illness is one such issue. When executed poorly, creating mental illness in a character can be seen as lazy – a contrivance for plot rather than a natural character evolution. In the worst cases, it can be really offensive to those out there who are actually suffering.
Mental illness is one of the most challenging characters arcs to create well. So – how do you do it?