In life, we must all admit we are not perfect. So here I go: I am not perfect. In other news, the sun is hot, it’s cold in Chicago during the winter, and I write about fucked-up shit.
But I have a point beyond trying to be funny. I use this blog partially to offer advice to writers and artists. In fact, often when I come across an artist in real life who is having a problem, I end up verbally referencing one of my own articles.
But that does not mean I possess the answers to everything in art. Far from it. And in the interest of being open, I will do the opposite of offer advice, and instead talk about a few questions I just do not know an answer to—stuff I could attempt to puzzle out, and might someday understand, but, for now, I’m basically clueless.
So, here we go! Time to admit fault. Time to eat my crow with a slice of humble pie. Time to prove I am still a dumb, dumb human—no matter how pretentious and studious an aura I may try to project.
I Have No Real Idea Exactly Why I Write What I Write
Why did I deem that character worthy to die? Why do I not try to write happy stories? Why do I have to come up with disturbing scenarios? Why is my sense of humor so damn morbid?
I have no idea. Not really. You could blame the media I consume or perhaps some intrinsic aspect of my anatomy, brain chemistry, or even my spiritual existence. But, whatever the cause, I like to write dark things—and I don’t want to stop. My characters do what they want, and if I try to move away from the progression I see in my mind, I feel as though I am forcing the story inorganically. Often the most brutal bits in my tales occurred to me as I created them. And woe is me if I try to go rogue in those moments.
Why Do We Follow the Three Act Structure?
Lord, this one. I don’t get it. I am so not a fan of standard story structure. I wish we’d break away from the rigidness. But, if I try to move away, my readers get cold. Stories not following the agreed-upon structure struggle to remain stable—unless wielded by the deftest of hands. I guess, like math, some things just contain an internal, unbreakable logic to them. But that doesn’t change the fact I don’t personally understand the reason why.
Why Do Stories That Break All the Technical Rules Still Become Popular?
As much as it annoys me that rigid structure is so innate, and hard to get away from, I am also annoyed by the sheer success of novels which break the simplest stylistic rules.
It’s not even like it’s that hard to learn. No adverb dialogue tags. Minimum use of passive voice. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Show plot data, do not constantly explain shit in paragraph-long dumps. Don’t have a character look in the mirror and narrate their physical appearance for the sake of the audience. And for the love of God, please stop saving characters by bringing back other characters we assumed were dead at the last minute.
But…yes, I break these too. I am guilty. My hands are red with writing technique crimes. But I agonize over them every time I do it. If you see me break one of those rules, it means I could not for the life of me find another way to go about it without breaking my pacing or flow.
And yet…and YET, books which do not respect the rules, which break them willy-nilly, succeed anyway. And I’ll even like a lot of them. Because the story is that good.
For these I listed, and so much more, I don’t understand. I don’t get it. The logic does not make any sense. But: c’est la vie, I suppose. We don’t get to understand the universe’s intricacies sometimes. Or…most of the time, really.
And I guess that’s okay.
Because it kind of needs to be.