Stories are always better in black and white.
June 29, 2016
I PREFER MY STORIES in black and white.
Take movies, for example.
No special effects.
No gore for the sake of gore.
No shock for the sake of shock.
Black and white movies are real.
They are honest.
They are character driven.
I like black and white books for the same reasons.
The plots make sense.
The suspense takes your breath away.
So does a good romance.
The humor is laugh out loud funny.
The characters are believable.
You root for the hero.
But you know he can be a heel.
He’s wound tight and ready to fight.
He loves the pretty ladies.
He leaves them.
Some lady might catch him.
Some lady might keep him.
Don’t hold your breath.
He could have easily been the villain.
However, he simply came to a crossroad in life and, by chance or happenstance, turned the right way.
You hate the villain.
But he’s so charming.
He will offer a lady an umbrella in the rain.
He will buy the little waif on the street a candy bar.
He will stop and fix the flat of some damsel in distress.
But he can pull the trigger and kill a man without flinching and with no regrets.
You want him caught.
You want him convicted.
You want him behind bars.
But I feel sad when he’s hauled away in shackles and cuffs.
He’s bad but life made him that way.
He could have been the hero.
He just came to a crossroad in life and turned the wrong way.
I read too many books and see too many movies these days that rely too much on a gimmick of some kind.
The plot is weak?
Have a sex scene.
Erotica is better.
The story slows down?
Blow something up.
Have a car chase.
Tear up as many cars as you can.
Turn one into a zombie.
Or a vampire.
Or maybe a werewolf.
The suspense is boring?
Bring on a ghost.
Or a time traveler.
Someone from outer space.
Anything that goes bump in the night.
Can’t think of a clever punch line?
Use a four-letter word, preferably one that begins with F.
Use a whole string of them.
Hammer them into the story like nails in a coffin.
The devices all work, and a lot of great writers are using them while turning out a lot of great books.
I admire the authors.
I cheer for them.
We showcase their novels.
But, frankly, I would rather crawl inside the minds of good characters and follow them along no matter where they want to go.
Finely drawn characters become family.
I care about them.
I worry about them.
I lose sleep over their problems.
But I do remember the characters long after the names of the books or movies have been forgotten.
I say goodbye.
And I miss them when they’re gone.