I think I’m learning something about my writing style. I never thought I had a style, but lately I’ve observed an undercurrent of a theme in my work. So, I guess I do have a style after all.
If you look at the progression of films I have chosen to do, you will see what I mean. My first short film, Prognosis, is a heavy drama. My second is a dark comedy short film. My third, a feature length horror film. All very different genres, yet all with a dark undercurrent to them. Even my Nine Levels script, which isn’t in any sort of pre-production at the moment, is dark and twisted, while still very funny.
I like dark. I like the dank recesses of the human brain–the parts where people’s inner secrets hide and souls cower. These dark places are what make humans tick. That’s not to say the bright, vaunted emotions like love aren’t fun to write about. They can be. But I prefer not to.
For me, I find that love as a motivator for why Husband rescues Wife from Bad Guys is boring. No, I find it far more interesting to find that Husband rescues Wife from Bad Guys because if she disappears, he will no longer have access to her Daddy’s money when Daddy kicks the bucket. I find it more interesting the motivation of Husband planning to kill Daddy then off Wifey after the money is safely inherited by Wife and willed to him. Bad Guys kidnapping Wife has messed up his plan, therefore he must Go Save Her.
I mean, if you were watching a movie or reading a book, wouldn’t you think that is a more interesting motivation than just…yawn…love?
I think fear is the common denominator in my writing. Fear of some kind–fear of failure, fear of going to hell, fear of not getting father-in-law’s money and being in the poorhouse, fear of XYZ. Perhaps it could be argued that fear is the common denominator to all writing, that fear drives us all in some way or another. I suppose that is true enough. But in my own writing, I like to see just how twisted people can be, and just what they will do in order to alleviate that fear.
That said, while I enjoy the darkness, there is one of those vaunted higher emotions that does show up in my work time and again. Hope. People go to dark depths and hope they will see the light again. People hope they will get away with murder. People hope that the monster isn’t going to eat them.
Huh? You say something? Ohhh! You thought I was going to say something like hope is the bright torch that illuminates our way to finding love and happiness, didn’t you? Well, you thought wrong!
Hope, while gilded with promise, is actually cloaked in darkness and despair. That’s why I love it so, because THAT is reality. In Hollywood, hope serves us up exactly what we wished for. In my writing, it doesn’t. In my writing, Hope is a spectacularly unhelpful bitch.
You would never know from reading this that I am an optimist at heart would you? Just call me an optimist with cynical tendencies. Perhaps my characters have no hope in order for me to find mine. Maybe they go though such hardships in order for me to get through my own more easily. Who knows? That’s for film critics to ponder once I get rich and famous.
*This is a re-post from my Walknroll blog dated Sept. 14, 2010.*