I think I’m bored by movies because most offer no psychological nuance. They offer depth of character in other regards, and they show many aspects of character, but they don’t reveal character. Maybe we should add an addendum to this mentality with “uncover, don’t show and don’t tell,” which sounds like pretentious pedantry, but it implies that we can show information or we can uncover it. When I write, I uncover my character’s psychological nuances.
Spoilers?: None (considering nuanced storytelling)
Movies tend to just glance through this information.
I’m reading through Screenplay, where the author brings us through pages of questions we should ask of our characters. That’s the external approach of learning about characters. I prefer the internal approach, where I imagine the scenario from their perspective.
In this scene that’s been repeating through my head recently, John has just arrived at Trishna’s house, and is enjoying his first good meal. He’s led a childhood life strife with problems, and here, he is safe. He bites into an apple and loves the taste and sensation. Something like that, in a movie, might be revealed with a flash of his excited face before the scene continues. Within literature, we can dig into the nuance of the situation.
Sure, it makes the story drag for some, but they can watch action movies.
I want to see the inner soul of humanity, and I can usually find out what makes someone tick after a 5-minute conversation with them. I don’t need to know their thorough backstory. I don’t need to have a survey asking fifty questions about their past in order to tell their present. I just need someone to tell me something about themselves and how they overcame it. That’s usually enough to see how people, generally, approach solving their own problems, as they are the hero in their own story, so if there’s a situation like that in the future, I’ll know they’ll generally go about it in the same way.
In that scene with John, the nuance wasn’t in John’s excitement over the apple.
It was in his sort of de-escalation realization that he can lead a normal life. It would be exaggerated for film, with a bright smile, the snap of the apple, and an excited ‘yum!’ In literature, it might be a sentence or a paragraph, but it would feel more real, more like something that would actually happen. As I think about what it is that excites me about literature, I become more resolute in my resolve not to get onto the hype train of YouTube videos with 10-minute vlogs starting off with “hey guys!”
I might read my essays to have a presence, but I enjoy writing more than video production.
I’m sure it’s easier to make money doing things without nuance, and that is what I do professionally right now. Whenever I’ve thought creatively the most outside the box was whenever I received the most critical feedback advocating against thinking outside the box. My writing or editing skills are not currently appreciated professionally, so I keep throwing it out there, but until then, I do the work that’s needed while I do my own thing through the rest of the time I have available to me.
It would be difficult to capture that professional ennui in a movie.
However, in literature, I can express that through the feelings of hopelessness in contributing to the corporate cause, where I might spend the time I wrote this essay working on editing a document, only to have those edits rejected or questioned because they didn’t follow arbitrary rules, and when I would ask about those rules, I’d be told tautologies about how it is what it is. That could probably be shown in a movie scene, but more often, we want the snappiest dialogue to distract us from whatever was distracting us from thinking about our lives.
Because literature has a higher barrier of entry, it enables more nuance.
With movies, they’ve got to please everyone, be exciting, and fun. The audience is wider and the expectations are less. When I wrote my first novel, I wrote without any financial responsibilities depending on its success, so I wrote Sammohini’s story as I imagined it. There was no corporate influence, other than showing up for my unrelated job, doing my unrelated work, and doing well enough to not rock the boat. With the novel, I could explore Sammohini’s innermost thoughts, and even if I don’t earn any money from it ever, it is something that I am proud of, even if it’s too weird for a general audience.
Maybe I’m proud of it for that reason.
Rather than go the traditional route, I eschewed some of the traditional rules of literature from dialogue to character. I didn’t do a fantastic job of describing characters or scenery, but for the month I spent with the fortnight of preparation, I’m happy with the results because it has enough nuance to where you can get to know Sammohini. Or at least, I would imagine it’d be more possible than if I were to find an actress to perform the role of Sammohini on camera for a movie I would direct.
That movie might be snappier and easier to understand, but that’s not really the point.
The novel explored Sammohini’s perspective, and was told with a reliable narrator role, where we could empathize with her and trust that she’s acting in her own way. I don’t want to proclaim anything special about myself, so I’ll say that I did my best to write character nuance as I would want to read from fiction, and I feel that with its flaws and mistakes it still generally accomplished that. I will continue honing my craft over the years, and will continue learning to focus on nuance rather than convenience, when I write fiction.
When I write work stuff, I write clearly and without nuance, since I’m not paid to write anything creatively.
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium. My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: Besides the Screenplay book? It contained a bit about how in thirty seconds, you could see an entire marriage story arc in Citizen Kane, and I thought to myself, “actually, I kind of hate that about movies.” I thought deeper and I realized that was a substantial reason why I don’t like watching movies. Although I appreciate some movies, including action movies, I like knowing these characters, rather than spending thirty seconds with them…|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Picture: Generic template picture.|
|Written On: 2020 March 07 [From 1:49am to 2:14am. Gdocs.]|
|Last Edited: 2020 March 20 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]|