Saturday, April 10, 2010

I is for Illogical Behaviors: What Can't You Write?

MJ and I watched Rambo last night. You know the one, where Sylvester Stallone sneers through an entire 110 minute movie (please see image below for summary)?
Rambo (Widescreen Edition)
Oh, did that fail to clarify for you? Well, this was the new one, circa 2008, with the aging Stallone. And besides from laughing about the sneering and the cheesy dialogue, it was painful to watch. The violence in this movie is really graphic. Scenes of genocide, torture, child soldiers, and implied rape perpetrated against the Karen people of Burma are portrayed. Watching Rambo kill is abstract enough to me, as killing is usually abstract in action movies (which is certainly a psychological point that can be discussed for years to come).

But the ethnic cleansing portrayed in the movie was vivid and pointless -- the exact sort of thing I find hard to shake after watching. And it's the kind of thing I can't write about, either.

The Sociopath Next DoorI can't write sociopathic and psychopathic behaviors. Why? Because they honestly don't make sense. I believe that 2% of the population is sociopathic, generally not serial killers, but completely amoral people who are manipulative, abusive when given the opportunity, cruel. I read an interesting book a while back titled The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, which gave me the 2% statistic. You've probably met a sociopath, maybe had one as a teacher, lived next door to one, dated one, worked for one.  It's an interesting premise.

The Dead GirlBut what's the point of writing someone who may be cruel for the sake of being cruel, when there's no other motive to serve them? There's no actual motivation, no deeper personality to plum. They just suck. I watched an interesting, although not particularly enjoyable, movie called The Dead Girl (amazing acting by Brittany Murphy) which is a series of vignettes about a girl murdered by a serial killer, and I loved how it didn't focus on the stupid psychopath that ended her life.  Because really, how interesting is a serial killer? It's the people whose lives ended that were actually interesting and relatable.

I can't write people with no real motivation for their cruelty, whose behavior is illogical. I don't want to write oversimplistic characters. Even if some people are.

What's hard for you to write?


Kittie Howard said...

Thru the years I've encountered people who've had a manipulative, cruel streak and was happy to move on. Just creepy.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh, I agreeeeeeeee! I think most rotten behaviors have some sort of motivation behind them. It doesn't excuse it, but generally, I think it goes deeper than just some miswiring in the brain from birth. It does exist, but that's boring and utterly horrigying.

And doesn't Rambo sneer through all his movies? ;)

Loved your profile. Very cute. Drew me in. Now a follower ;)

Donna Hole said...

Rambo was a B-movie to me. Good concept but poorly played out.

Some behaviors do seem illogical - cruelty for cruelty's sake - but I think the reason we just don't understand it is because we don't think that way, so would never act that way.

I do like your logic though. And there are plenty of people in the world that write about sociopaths (sorry; I like to read about them and have tried to write one or two).

What's important is that you write what appeals to you; something you're passionate about. That passion will come through in the voice of the story, and will draw people in.

You have a lovely writing voice Guin.


Guinevere said...

Kittie, me too. That book was a fascinating read, but I hope I can avoid getting to know any more sociopathic types in person!

Aw thanks Caroline! I'm glad you've stopped by... I love meeting other bloggers, and I'm a big fan of your blog too!

Donna, I used to like reading about them too, actually. My sentiments changed during my year in Iraq, where my tolerance for imagined violence decreased dramatically. But I can certainly understand the fascination with these "others" who walk among us but don't have the same sense of humanity we do. I love the idea is that passion is what matters! Thanks for sharing that thought today, and for the wonderful compliment. :)

Aubrie said...

These subjects would all be hard for me to write as well. I'll add anything historical to the list, too. :)

I don't think I could sit through Rambo, although he does sneer very well.

Shelley Sly said...

I agree! That's a tough thing to write about. I don't think I could ever have a sociopathic main character who does things for no logical reason. It's so much more fun to develop a backstory showing why characters act the way they do, not just be cheap and say, "Well, he doesn't think straight, so anything goes." Just my two cents.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I've never seen any of the Rambo movies- I refuse to give up that many hours of my life for something I've heard such bad stuff about.

I'd stay away from any crimes against children. I can barely read any scenes where kids get hurt- having my daughter has made me a softy. I certainly couldn't write anything like that.

E. Elle said...

I would like to write a thriller in the future but I know that it will take a lot. I have trouble writing genuinely evil characters because I am not evil (well, not VERY evil, anyway). I can't get myself into the position of an evil person. Plus, I know there'd be a lot of research if the police got involved, forensics, firearms... ugh, it's a web of intricacies.

So, in short, I can't write evil, even though it's all around us.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I've read that book and it opened my eyes to someone that was messing with me just for the fun of it. I was horrified when I learned from other people what they had been telling them I said and did...none of it true. Needless to say, that is hard for me to write about also, because I just can't get there mentally. Great post.

Jen said...

love scenes I see everyone else write them and even though I have love in my life for some reason I can't write about it! Weird huh?!