And Another Thing…

So yesterday’s post was about why you shouldn’t be a writer. And despite what some people seemed to think, I was kinda-sorta serious about it. I think there would be less heartache in your lives if more people realized how painful and unpleasant writing can be. Also, there would be less competition for me.

But today I realized I left out another big reason you should eschew the way of the writer.

See, when you become a writer, you start out by reading a lot of books about the craft, about writing smooth prose and getting your structure right. And then, when you write your mind refers back to what you’ve learned and measures it against what you’re creating. And pretty soon, you’ve got this tiny little editor that lives in your brain, and his job is to tell you whether a particular story is working or not.

This little guy is important. He keeps you on the straight and narrow, and he helps to keep you on the straight and narrow with your story. But there’s one problem.

He never shuts up.

I’m not kidding. You will never be able to watch a movie or read a book again without this guy popping up and saying, “Holy cow, can we tone it back on the exposition people? Work some of that information into the story. You’re ruining a perfectly good narrative with your infodumps!”

“But Ethelbert,” you say (all good inner-editors are named Ethelbert) “I just want to read this book. Can’t we save the analysis for another time?”

But Ethelbert just glares at you and keeps going. “Do they think this is good writing? Do they? Did the author apply these adverbs with a trowel?”

And the worst thing is, Ethelbert generally has a point. And since Ethelbert is in your head it only makes sense that you tell someone what Ethelbert it saying.

“That movie failed as a narrative because the protagonist didn’t have any clearly defined goals to accomplish,” you tell your date as your walking out of the theatre. “Also, the villain would have been far more effective if she had been shown to actually care about the protagonist, rather than just being in it for her own good.”

Your date is not impressed.

Seriously. Every time me and my wife get into a movie or TV series I always have to discuss why we like it. I think I spent just as much time talking to my wife about Dexter as I did watching it. I spent hours whining about how annoying and pointless the Lila story arc was, and she’s just nodding going, “Yeah. Uhuh. Whatever.”

I’m boring her to tears and it’s all Ethelbert’s fault.

So again, take my advice. Become an accountant or something. Accountants are way more interesting.

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11 responses to “And Another Thing…

  1. Lol! Could you recommend some books on writing? For someone who is definitely not interested in becoming a writer of course.

  2. So true! But I’ve always been super-analytical of everything. One of my favoritist memories is my music theory teacher telling me years ago, “You have a very analytical mind.”

    I warn my family and friends not to ask me questions on certain topics because I get all excited and over-explain everything until they tear their ears off.

    The bestest friends are the ones who love to analyze with you. Or at least don’t mind smiling and nodding.

  3. Hmmm…I’m a writer and my husband is an accountant. I may have to argue with you a bit on this one.

  4. You are funny Albert, and interesting thoughts though 🙂

  5. I often dream of becoming an accountant when the writing isn’t working the way I think it should.

    And you’re right: Ethelbert is one seriously evil guy. It wouldn’t be nearly so bad if he would EVER shut up!

    Great posts 🙂

  6. This post was amusing to me because my husband taught me the word “exposition” a few years ago, and ever since then I can’t watch a television program or film without hearing exposition and thinking, “Exposition!”.
    I notice when it is done smoothly and I notice when it is clumsy.

    I have noticed that it works especially well in shows about characters with amnesia.

    I liked a few other posts as well, so I subscribed. I have a “Three Hits, You’re In” rule.

  7. My brother took a semester of film. Basically, all they do is analyze film. Being a writer on the other hand gives me an idea of what makes a good story.

    Whenever we go out as a family to watch movie it ends up like this.

    Mom and Dad: The movie’s so good!

    Brother and I: Nah. We don’t like it because it’s lacking something.

    Maybe it’s just me and my brother having the same taste in films. Still, we agree on what sucks most of the time.

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