coaching the modern game
Scene after scene in which writers try to squeeze life into affects they aren’t really interested in, to prop up characterisations the only purpose of which is to support the plot. In these passages of desperate over-writing, what you hear is the voice of an editor demanding motivation & relatability. But that’s not really what’s missing. What the editors don’t even really know that they want (because they have been coaching the modern game for so long they’ve lost, by erosion &/or denial, any knowledge of what makes character different from characterisation) is neither motivation nor relatability. It’s something–indeed anything–that bears the actual stamp of the human. No one at the book-doctoring level of the business has the slightest idea how to do that. They only feel the mysteriously complete loss of it at the heart of the produce-on-demand text. Still, I’d rather have generic formalism, however glib, outright, & Hitchcockian, than the equally-programmatic litfic/MFA version in which “emotional truth” is evoked as the basis of “strong storytelling” (ie, propping up a plot with affects you appear to have all the feels for).