Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chimps Found in My Unnatural Bubble

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I just finished an online violence and weaponry class for writers taught by Rory Miller, who is so bad ass in his creditials that I'd have to kill you if I elaborated. I've written scenes here and there that required high-octane, moment by moment violence, but my latest ghostwriting project required more. Like war. Ongoing. The deep psychological place soldiers must go. For a suburban girl whose only exposure to violence is what comes in a red Netflix envelope, it was a must-take class.

The most memorable lesson he gave was one on the unnatural state of our existence. For the first time in human history, violence is essentially foreign to us. We don't raise weapons to meet our basic needs. Mass casualties are things that largely happen somewhere else. We live in a bubble of treaties and modern philosophies and shared ethics. As writers, one of the hardest things to do is get inside the head of our characters. But for a writer raised in this bubble, getting inside the head of historical characters is the greatest challenge of all. As Miller put it: "The most evil things in history made sense to someone. As an author, if you can't see that, your antagonists will be flat. As a human, if you can't see it, you can't effectively fight it."

Miller's book, Violence: A Writer's Guide, covers many of the same topics as we touched on in class and is a fantastic reference if your project requires a deep understanding about the complexities of violence.


Charles Gramlich said...

thanks for the heads up on his book. I'll definitely check it out. I'm interested in the topic, and write a lot of that kind of action myself.

Dixie said...

Certainly if I wasn't interested in this topic before, you're critique has stirred the pot of curiosity.

My only experience with violence will never be forgotten. I view reading this book as a way to have some understanding. Not that I enjoy anything more than the occasional bashing of a spider... but hey, potential is what it is.

the walking man said...

yep I have no real concept of violence.

luxury apartments buenos aires said...

Very informative! Thanks very much for sharing.

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Charles...research $$ well-spent :)

@Dixie...Understanding it might provide you a way to work through it in a constructive way.

@WM...says the spider to the fly

And for the record, I'm totally on-board with a luxury apartment in Buenos Aires ;)