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Standing on my soapbox
July 30th, 2017 by Coral

Okay, it’s time for real talk.

Why am I doing this? Why am I a writer? Why am I dedicating so much of my life to this?

Well, I’ll tell you.  Of course there are the obvious reasons, I find writing fun and I just enjoy it for the sake of writing, but that’s not why I’ve chosen it as my career and my life’s work. I have something bigger in mind.

I think the world deserves better. Some of the entertainment out there now-no, a LOT of the entertainment out there now is just embarrassing. So many people have been led to believe that your story can’t be interesting or exciting without major profanity or filthy sexual content. That’s consumers and writers that have started to believe this!

Well, I’m here to tell you, that is not true!

In fact, it’s a sign of good writing when you DON’T have those kinds of things in there to distract from your story. I’m serious.

Swearing doesn’t make your characters sound smarter, or funnier, or more likable. These kinds of things can be seriously detrimental to your story, it’s really best just to stay away from them.

Now, handling this obviously differs whether you’re writing a book, or for the screen, or something else, but it is always possible to write and create good, wholesome content that is compelling and engaging. There is a huge difference between this kind of content, and the kind that wants to be “more gritty and real” by adding those things in. When an audience is watching or reading, consuming basically, entertainment, there is a large percentage that will be offended, jarred out of the story, or simply enjoy it less because of things like profanity, sexual content, or other immorality. They may even avoid it completely once they find out what it contains.

On the flip side, how many people are going to watch a show and then, at the end, say “Wow, it was really good, but I wish there had been more cussing”? Yeah, not a lot, if any at all. The same goes for other other filthy content. While it drives away a part of your audience to include it, excluding it does not have the same effect! If they would watch it with the cussing and sex, they will still watch it without it. Write for the story, for the characters and communicating your message, that’s what the consumers will enjoy, ultimately.

“But,” you might be saying, “what if the story really does call for it? Like in movie adaptations of books? Or historical documentaries?”

Okay, let’s address the first one. Does the story call for it? Does it really? Well, it may call for those things to happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it in a way that drives off a portion of your audience. The story may call for many things, but if you work at it you can do it in a way that is not only still friendly to your audience, but this will actually make your story better. Putting more work into it shows that you care and will give you better results.

For example, let’s tackle the movie adaptations of books question. I’m going to use The Hunger Games franchise as my prime example.

If you have read the books, you know that there is plenty of content that, while fine for a reader, would not necessarily be fine to watch on the big screen. There’s violence, and lots of it, we’re talking children murdering each other on a televised game. That’s pretty intense. Keeping with the plot and events of the book, the movie makers could have easily used a lot of content that would have made the movie Rated R, which in the case of these books, decimates the audience. The target demographic for these books was young adults and teenagers. Junior high and high school students. Making these movies Rated R would have seriously hindered their ability to turn a profit on the movie, and a lot of us would never have gotten to see the genius of the movie vs book.

But the movie makers knew that, they knew that would be harmful to them, and so they worked hard and, in my opinion, hit the nail on the head.  The events from the book still happen, people are still dying and murdering and all of those things. It is done in such a way, however, that it does not severely limit the audience. I think it is all the better for this. We still get the feel of what is going on, the horrifying truth of this world that has to sacrifice children to keep the peace, and then there is the terrible reality of war and everything that goes with it, physical, emotional, and psychological trauma. Betrayal, suffering, and the question of what really is right.

 

In the area of historical documentaries, well, they have a little more room. I understand that portraying something like the Holocaust, or other horrific world events like that, that is going to be difficult to do in a family friendly way. This may simply be because the events weren’t family friendly, and they were real. I still believe we can make portrayals of them that are welcoming to a wider audience, but I won’t condemn the documentaries that go a little deeper. I don’t really plan on making documentaries either, and this issue is a bit different for me than entertainment films.

If your movie or book, just your work, is fictional and for entertainment purposes, even if you have the strongest “moral of the story” that ever was, there is just no excuse for cutting your audience down to fractions by including filthy, profane content. We can keep the cussing, the sex, and graphic violence away from the audience without diminishing the story or characters. It will just mean we have to work harder, but I am not afraid of working hard.  This is my life, and if I’m going to succeed, I expect to work hard.

I know that a lot of people don’t agree with me on this, in fact, many people have tried to talk me out of this, my cause that I have chosen. They make excuses for the filthy content we see today. But I will not accept it. I believe we can do better, and since I’m going to be in this industry for the rest of my life, I have to stick with what I believe. Some people are afraid that it will be hard for me, or that I will face criticism, or that I’m just wrong and movies won’t be fun anymore. But I don’t care if it’s hard, I’ll still do it. People can criticize me all they want, it won’t deter me. And I’ve just spent the rest of this post explaining why the last concern is pretty invalid.

This is my soapbox, I stand for better entertainment for everyone, and I plan on standing here for a very long time.


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