Life comes with double-edged swords.
A child prodigy is talented beyond his/her years, but the road to performance might mean a loss of playtime or peer socialization because of the rigorous studies necessary. A demanding profession might mean missing family dinners, school performances & teacher conferences, and just “time” spent parenting.
Since I’ve started writing, I’ve loved the knowledge gained from studying the craft. I’ve learned about goal, motivation, & conflict, character development, description, POV, well, you get the picture. Of course, learning and applying to a satisfactory end is another story. It’s a process that I continue to perfect.
The writer’s double-edge sword often means reading books or watching movies and studying them even if you try to let yourself go and just enjoy the experience. Before I began writing, perhaps I didn’t like the same amount of books or movies, but couldn’t articulate the reasons. I don’t know.
I do know what doesn’t work for me is because of what I’ve learned.
This summer, a writer friend and I went to a movie that had a lot of pre-release hype. We had history with the subject and couldn’t wait to be swept into that world again. The lights dimmed and the movie began. When the lights lifted, we looked at each other, silent for a moment. Then, one of us (I can’t remember which) said, “I didn’t like it.” The other, “Me, either.”
We then critiqued the movie and decided that the main reason was that it started in the wrong place. The director spent too much time on backstory that could have been threaded in later or even left out. There were other points, but this very slow start seemed to be the main flaw. Would we have realized that had we not been writers? Again, I don’t know.
We then went to another movie taken from a bestselling novel. It hadn’t gotten very good reviews but we both liked the premise. The lights dimmed. The lights lifted.
“I loved it.”
We discussed the hero’s ordinary world, the call to adventure, the refusal of the call, and on through the Hero’s Journey. I got almost as much enjoyment over discussing the fine points as watching the movie itself. I couldn’t have experienced that if I wasn’t a writer. It was a wonderful night.
Turning to books, I also know that I don’t enjoy them as much as I used to because of what I know about craft. That saddens me. But, I am more thankful when I find a great book because of what I’ve learned.
A double-edged sword.
Have you found your opinions on books and movies have changed since you began writing? What other double-edged swords have you found when applied to writing?