Part of my intense annoyance with films is because I’m aromantic. The sappy stuff that normally excites everyone else bores me if it doesn’t confuse me. But a large part of that annoyance stems from a much deeper, more insidious issue. I notice it because I’m already a sinister weirdo (by sinister I mean left-handed; look it up). My brain works differently and I have no idea if anyone else even cares about this when it comes to storytelling but: WHERE IS THE COMMUNICATION?
It should be no surprise to you that I studied psychology and philosophy (Brain and Mind studies covers, like, everything you’d ever want to know about humans). Combine that with the shitty people who wanted me to keep it a secret that they treated me shittily and my desire for openness and honesty in all matters (except when it results in something hilarious. Then I’m twice the jackass I normally am) and you have yourself a person who is utterly annoyed by unnecessary miscommunication. How many plots would be resolved in minutes if the people just simply talked to one another? Is making everyone in the fictional universes socially inept the only way people know how to build conflict and tell a good story?
There’s very little talk about safe sex, or healthy communication, or emotional maturity to model oneself on. Instead we often get abusive, creepy, or simply horribly inefficient interactions. People are watching and reading and listening to all of this, daydreaming about having their significant others read their minds to know everything they want and need. Some people really seem to believe that all of the game-playing, noble suffering, and missed connections are a normal part of life and relationships (ever been in a counselor’s office? Or on the internet in general?).
Even if people realize that most of the movie interactions are malarkey, what do they have to compare it to? Even well-written sprawling and epic tales suffer from the main character turning stupid or moody whenever they see the girl they like. Maybe it truly is difficult for romantic people to sort through the chemically-induced high to communicate effectively. I don’t know.
All I know is that if I want my characters to be realistic, they have to be more than cardboard cutouts saying all of the same things or falling in love in exactly the same way. There are so many fascinating dimensions to people, emotions, and interactions. There are so many things people can do together besides make goo-goo eyes. Neurodiversity is an actual thing. So is aromanticism. Maybe making characters too realistic makes them unrelatable but that’s why I also make them ridiculous and usually not human. Um, more to the point, though, I love getting into people’s mental makeup. This means getting to the roots of their emotions, their assumptions, and their personalities in a totally Socratic way.
This does mean there tends to be more dialogue (both internal and external) between my characters and other characters or even just within their own minds. Our values, our philosophies and deepest beliefs are what make us who we are, and there are as many ways of thinking as there are human beings. Many of my characters can indeed read one another’s minds and yet they still must actually speak to each other. Thoughts aren’t simply made of words; they can be pictures, music, smells, gigantic interlocking networks of concepts. I really don’t think creative work gives enough credit to what brains do. Writers are all about making someone “smart” by having them know a lot of facts or having them be able to fix machinery or technology “like really, really good” but there are almost no emotionally intelligent (or emotionally honest) people represented anywhere on TV or in books (except if they’re sociopaths using it against someone).
We don’t get to see healthy discussions about what people actually want, we don’t get to see what informed and enthusiastic consent looks like, we don’t get to see people resolving their issues in ways that makes sense. Instead we’re treated to people behaving like toddlers who have never interacted with another human being. There’s no explanation for this; there’s no reason given for why these people can’t communicate effectively. It’s simply a plot device, thrown in to make the story more interesting. Really, characters have it bad in the media-they seem to be overwhelmingly used as plot devices. My characters should be happy that I let them fully develop while I torture them.
Anyway, for me, my characters are the story. They are what moves it. They are what the worlds revolve around. Instead of being blindly swept along by Fate, they are active participants in creating the worlds they live in, even if they fail to change it. It’s very hard for me to write flat characters. Nearly everyone I write is a dynamic character. That does leave me much less time to write about the intricate designs in the corner of the bottom right-hand back side of the couch seated in front of the dust-darkened window that let in just the tiniest sliver of refreshing and wholesome sunshine – but honestly I really don’t mind that. Most of my descriptions are of internal design and motivation and much of my writing involves discussion and communication. If elaborate descriptions are present, it’s because the character actually notices them (some of them are tactile junkies or have reactions suspiciously similar to Stendhal’s syndrome).
People may hate all of that talking and reflecting. They want to know about that damned spot on the corner of that couch because damnit, their imaginations are just empty and need to be filled. But what does that say about them? Are people really more interested in seeing 2-dimensional people with no capacity to handle or sort through their emotions be used as fodder for vastly beautiful worlds at the expense of exploring people who have depth and rich inner worlds that actually affect the worlds they live in? Maybe because I walk around with a literal vision of the entire cuilverse floating and changing and growing in my head I can’t understand why people don’t need to be…qualitatively different in creative works.
Maybe that’s just how art works. I mean, there are stereotypes and tropes for a reason. Maybe I’m too much of a rebel and that’s why no one will ever like me. Maybe left-handers really are weirdos. Maybe seeing multiple kinds of communication and neurodiversity aren’t that important to a lot of people. I just know it matters to me. I compare and contrast communication problems and solutions, I experiment with perspectives by throwing philosophically-opposed people together to follow their thoughts to their logical conclusions (note: they have a foundational opposition and are not simply oppositional on the surface or for plot purposes), I especially love writing about people whose minds work differently.
Hm, you know what; I think I just figured out what my problem is. I’m just a huge fucking nerd. A huge noetisexual nerd.