Last night I once again watched the movie “Stranger Than Fiction”. The movie is really great and one I especially enjoy as a writer.
In the movie, Harold Frick, played by Will Farrell, starts hearing a narrators voice in his head pretty much narrating what he is doing/thinking as she types away on her novel. Unbeknownst to the author, Harold is actually real and what she writes about him is actually playing out in his life.
Finally realizing he isn’t really crazy, Harold tries to find out what is going on and eventually comes to find out he is unwittingly part of the authors novel and that she always kills off her hero/heroine. Harold finally meets up with the author and asks her not to kill him off. Undecided, she hands him a copy of her draft to read. The English professor Harold has sought help from (Dustin Hoffman), after reading her draft of the book convinces Harold he must die as the work is a masterpiece.
Harold eventually accepts his fate and tells the author he is willing to die and that he loves her novel. In the end, the author changes he mind and re-writes her ending even though she knows it lessens the greatness of her work. She does so because she just can not kill someone who is “so noble”.
As an author I have killed off a number of my characters (not the hero). Even though they are fictional, after spending so much time with them they almost become real. As such it is painful to kill them off even the dastardly ones.
But what if they were truly real? Could we kill them off even though we know that doing so makes for a great read and that not doing so could keep us from writing the next greatest American novel?
I know I couldn’t. The truth is, once we get to know someone our feelings about them will often change and generally for the better even if our opinion of the person was very poor before hand.
There was a musical group back in the sixties called Friend and Lover. Their cover song was “Reach out in the Darkness”. My favorite line in the song started out something like, “I knew a man that I did not care for, and then one day this man gave me a call. We sat and talked about things on our mind and now this man he is a friend of mine”.
I find that sentiment to be so true. We can never know enough about someone until we sit down and talk with them. It is so easy to pass judgement on people we don’t really know and to demonize them.
All too often I hear and read people’s remarks to the effect that “I wish that person would die” or “someone ought to kill that person”. Whether serious or not such comments are sad. Sure some people and their actions can definitely infuriate us, but I think what we should do is comment on the actions of the individual that we don’t like rather than demonizing the individual and to want them to die.
Bottom line, I absolutely couldn’t kill a character off if I knew they were real. It’s tough enough even when I know they aren’t.
Thanks for checking in this week, pray for peace and hope we all try to get closer to someone we have either become a stranger to or been too critical of.