Thursday, 25 February 2021

Trust Between Authors and Audience

This post has spoilers for Wandavision.

I've found myself thinking a lot lately about the trust that exists between authors and their audience, whether they write books, TV, or movies.

There are some authors that I will trust to take me to hell and back.  No matter how dark the story is and how impossible it seems, I know there is a point to the bad stuff and it will be worth it in the end.  Gena Showalter, Jenna Black, and J. Michael Strazynski are a few of the examples that immediately spring to mind.

Then there are other authors who seem to insist on making their characters suffer for no reason other than to glory in their pain (cough - Ronald D. Moore - cough).  It won't take much for me to bail out of their stories because I no longer trust them to see me through to the other side.

This ties in with genre expectations, but goes beyond them as well.  Yes, if I'm reading something marketed as a mystery, I expect the murder to be solved.  If I'm reading a book marketed as a romance, I expect there to be a central love story and a happy ending.  If I'm watching a movie marketed as a disaster action film, I expect the tornado footage to last more than two minutes total (yes, that's a specific example - Into The Storm, I don't recommend it).

I started thinking about this as I've been watching
Wandavision.  After the fourth episode, I was tempted to bail, even though I'd really been enjoying the writing and the chemistry between Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda) and Paul Bettany (Vision).  As a comic geek, I know that Wanda, aka The Scarlet Witch, is usually a villain.  I didn't want to watch another five episodes of her descending into grief and losing everything all over.  I didn't want to watch her be broken and become one of the bad guys.  That's not a story that I want to have inside my head.

I really loved the relationship between Wanda and Vision in the MCU movies.  I **hated** that they killed him off in Infinity War and that he didn't get to come back in Endgame.  But I wasn't surprised.  It's the one part of comics that I dislike: relationships almost always end in misery.  And for a genre that constantly brings characters back from the dead, their inability to imagine people being both in love and in exciting adventures is kind of disappointing.

I didn't want to watch Wanda's heart break all over again, but I stuck with it.  Because the MCU has delivered on its promise to tell nuanced stories where characters may go through bad times, but they don't suffer unnecessarily.  Heroes might be tempted down a dark path but they don't stay there.

This week's episode (7) proved I was right to trust them.  She's not the villain.  She's not broken.  And it's a relief that's renewed my excitement for the rest of the series.

Stories need tension to be interesting.  Some stories have light tension with low stakes and they can be quite enjoyable.  Some stories have a lot of tension with very high stakes and that is where trust in the author becomes essential.

Just putting characters in horrible situation creates tension, but it's the way they get out of it that makes a story satisfying.  Making horrible things happen to them just to have them in pain, that's not satisfying.  Or at least, not to me.

And that's why, while my stories deal with dark subject matter such as assault, trauma, addiction, and prejudice, they are there because I want to show people coming out of that darkness.  I want to show that those things don't preclude finding love and happiness in life later on.  There's a reason, and there's a satisfying outcome.  That's why my readers know they can trust me.

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Thursday, 18 February 2021

Reclaiming My HEA: New Plan

 Reclaiming My HEA is a monthly feature where I share my progress through my separation and divorce.  It also includes snippets of a therapy exercise where I imagine myself in a healthy relationship.  The purpose is to remind myself of what a supportive, caring partner would be like, to try and offset the effects of over a decade without one.

Dating sites take awhile, especially when we're still in the middle of a pandemic, which makes physically meeting new people difficult.  I'm still moving ahead, but I'm also trying to take a more comprehensive approach.

After some careful self-reflection, I've realized that one of the reasons that I've been so uncomfortable with moving forward is because I'm afraid of failing to recognize the signs of another bad relationship.  I'm working on that, but I also decided to tackle one of the underlying causes: touch deprivation.

In the 1960's, an
experiment with baby monkeys showed how crucial touch can be.  It is just as critical as the need for food.  One of the issues with my former relationship was a complete lack of physical contact.  As this pandemic has carried on, I've been unable to meet up with friends which has meant no hugs or other contact.  I've always been a cuddly person and I think that deprivation has affected me more than I realized.

One of the things I've been thinking about for the past year is whether or not I wanted to get myself a pet of my own.  My boys each have a pet.  The 16yo has a service dog, Lynyrd, and the 13yo has a cat, Neelix.  Both pets enjoy being around their people but aren't really cuddlers.  This suits the boys perfectly, since they aren't cuddlers either.

But I am.  And I'd love to have a pet to cuddle with.  I think it might help me more than I realize.

So I've decided to pursue adopting/rescuing a cat of my own.  It will have to be a young cat, in order for it to adapt to the household.

Maybe this will be the first step toward becoming a crazy cat lady... or maybe it's going to be the start of a path that will lead to me being happier.  Only time will tell.

Previous Reclaiming My HEA: Finding My Courage

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Monday, 8 February 2021

Valentine's Day Special - Part Two (HEA Match)

 Time for part 2 of my Valentine's Day special.  Everyone has an HEA match!

Honestly, this is why I love writing romance.  I love helping people to find their happiness, even fictional people.  (Maybe especially fictional people, since its so much easier than the real life versions.)

Previous blogpost: Valentine's Day Special - Part One (Choose Your HEA Hottie)

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