6 hours ago
24 September 2009
The Power of What We Say
On Tuesday, we talked about the power of advice in our lives, how certain words spoken at specific times were so appropriate, helpful, and encouraging that we remembered them and possibly changed how we lived or wrote because of them. Since we're all writers, we're all aware of the power of words. What we say (and write) has profound impact on those around us and ultimately, the world.
Today, I'm turning the question around on you. What's the best advice you have for any writer (if it's different from the one you shared on Tuesday)?
This week I'm ever more aware of the power of Story on our culture and how it really can impact everything from normal life to legislation. An incredible example of this will be on ABC primetime tonight--season premiere of Grey's Anatomy.
I watch a lot of tv, not to veg out but simply because I learn so much about life and storycrafting from it. It's a story in an hour, something that can really feed my creative side. I was a huge ER fan, so when Grey's first came on I refused to watch. Unfortunately, ER got stupid, so I gave Meredith a shot. Though I was late to the soap opera-ish dramatic backstory, I've picked up a lot. Most of all, I've been amazed at how the show speaks so clearly of the issues facing our nation today.
The final episodes of last season dealt with two primary issues: marriage and the illness of a primary character. The writers of the show went at the issue of marriage in two different ways. One, they continued to depict a growing lesbian relationship between two primary characters. Two, they reduced the marriage ceremony of the two main characters to a post-it note, vows written in private and sealed with a kiss that no one witnessed. Just like that, they considered themselves married. (Hopefully I'm not spoiling this for anyone, since it aired in May and then again last week).
I was just amazed, being that a huge issue in our nation right now is marriage: what constitutes a marriage, how is it defined, and who is allowed to get married?
If you watch the show, did you see how subtly they worked this issue? Or did it slide past in all the romance? I understand the characters of Meredith and Derek, of why they would choose something private and non-traditional. It's just that the argument the writers made (the one most of Hollywood supports) was so deftly constructed that I wanted to applaud their skills. The writer in me was inspired.
That finale was one of the most powerful I've ever seen, also because of the amazing cliff hanger at the end. I actually guessed it, which was pretty cool. And throughout the summer, I've thought back to that show and wondered what would happen in September. Tonight, I'll be on the couch, happy with the Story elements once again.
We have that same power that Hollywood does, to make an argument for what we believe and weave it so beautifully in our plots that readers can't help but notice. We have the power to shape our culture, just as the writers of Grey's Anatomy do. How are we using it? Are we willing to step out and take such a risk, or are we choosing the safe storylines?
I never want to be safe. What about you?
Happy watching tonight!