I realized last night that I have a problem. One I simply must push past. When I know bad things are coming, in a book or a movie or a tv show, I don’t want to watch it. I don’t want to continue, even when it’s a cliffhanger. For example, hubby loves The West Wing (if you haven’t watched WW, then a mild spoiler is coming — be aware!). We came to it late, so we’ve been watching it on DVD, and we just ended Season 4 about a month ago. This is where Bartlet’s daughter is kidnapped. Most people would just be dying to get to Season 5, to find out what happens.
Not me. I resisted his efforts to get me to watch the next episode until last night. And of course I loved it! I loved the resolution to the crisis, the way all these characters work together, the way the story is always told so well.
So why do I resist when I know it will be good? Maybe I’m afraid it won’t be good, that somehow they’ll disappoint me. Or maybe I’m afraid that something worse will happen and I just don’t want to know. But if I have this trouble with well-crafted stories, both print and visual, how am I to know that I’m capable of doing bad things, really bad things, to my own characters?
I think I can, but then last night I got to thinking about it when I was resisting and finally caving on WW. Why do I want to avoid the bad stuff? Do I do it when I write? Do I make bad things happen, but not bad enough? Do I need to look deeper, think harder, and make it worse?
Am I the only person with this kind of wacky problem? Do you have trouble watching the bad parts of television shows, or reading beyond the first really bad thing in a book?
I guess maybe the lesson here is that when I’m writing, I know I have to watch for this. I know I have to look doubly hard at the bad stuff and make sure it’s bad enough. Maybe it’s good to know I have this issue.
What about you? Do you have something to watch out for in your writing?