Sometime last week (I don’t remember the exact day) I watched a movie called Winter’s Tale. It was a fantastical romance about the power of love. Each person has one miracle in them, and they can use that miracle to save or alter someone’s life. Also, when people die, they go to the sky and become stars. I enjoyed the movie, but it seemed like it could have been better. The lead character was played by Colin Farrell, the villain by Russell Crowe, and the love interest by an actress I had not heard of. There was not much explanation or ‘showing’ of why the lead and the girl fell in love. They just did. And it was the love of a lifetime, except – there didn’t seem to be any chemistry between them. I don’t know if that was because of the acting or the script. Maybe the actors just didn’t care.
If it was the acting, it made me think of my work week last week. Last week was not a particularly good week for me at the workplace. I like to be precise and so I work to include all of the little details that should go into my product. My boss says that some of those little details don’t matter, which pisses me off. It shouldn’t. She’s right – in the whole scheme of things – a little missed number or something doesn’t matter. Hell, the product does not actually matter in the whole scheme of things. But if we, as a company, don’t care about our product why should our customers care? And if our customers don’t care, then why should they continue with our product?
In design class, one of the things we had to do was convince a potential employer that we were the right person for the job – and to do that, we had to care. Or at least act as if we cared. Act as if. That is a known psychological tool. There’s a great Ted Talk about acting as if (also known as fake it until you make it). I don’t remember the name of the talk but it was under some heading about changing the way you think.
In writing, the advice is often given – if you don’t care about your character, your reader wont either. If your character doesn’t do something proactive about her situation, then you have no story. Your character has to desperately want something. And the reader has to care about that character getting that something.
I have trouble generating that volume of passion some days. But maybe I need to act as if, or make my characters act as if.
It’s Monday. Act as if it’s going to be a fabulous day! (Because maybe it is)