author C.C.Cole's blog

Friday, July 5, 2013

On the Power of Devastation

"The Perfect Storm"
Red Wedding "Game of Thrones"

While I like a good laugh as much as anyone else, sometimes stories stick with me that hit me emotionally like a sledgehammer.  I do have films that are completely off limits like “Brian’s Song” (the original version, haven’t seen the remake), “Old Yeller” (the prototype) and “Where the Red Fern Grows” (no way I’m watching that).    I did watch the recent film “War Horse” and I admit it was excellent, and though it had a happy ending, I didn’t have a dry eye for at least a day.

Whether the events are fact based or fantasy, why do the ill fates of the good draw us into the story?  Many reasons:  One, for true events, I tend to see it as respect for the people lost.  In fantasy/fiction, we want to see revenge.  A few stories can be all-downers with no revenge or reconciliation and still be worthy, but for me, that is a small number. 

Sadness in stories does bring us a slice of real life.  I’ve never known anyone that’s never lost a loved one.  The feeling of loss grips a reader like nothing else can, and the pain lingers, hence so does the story.  But great pain often brings out great strength, so loss can be an essential tool that is often used to develop characters (example: Harry Potter).

To flip the coin and be fair, comedy to me is more challenging to write, and when I see interviews with famous comedians, they often comment on how difficult comedy is.  A puppy can be run over by a truck and make us sad, but the same puppy running away with a guy’s shorts is another story altogether with potential laughter with clever writing.

Readers, when writers devastate us, they are punching us in the stomach for a reason.  We are reeled in by appreciating the lost characters, and our ongoing zeal for some kind of fitting ending.  Some endings are more gratifying than others, but so is life.

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