TW: Mentions of gore and suicide.
Read the first part of this series here.
Mistakes. There is no plot without them, right? When writing, I used to think it was a simple cause and consequence process, but the Ancient Greeks seem to differ. Once again, they explained literature through a three-part sequence full of elegant words that sound more complex than they are. In contrast to the Mirroring Process, the Mistake Process does not happen to the reader. Instead, it shapes the character, and it is important to consider it when writing character arcs. Take any hero in literature, and they likely went through it too.
Continued from the previous article.
In this second-to-last line, the narrator recalls burying a handmade Batman costume in his backyard, then not being able to find it again years later. They end this stanza with the famous lines “How can something be there, and then not be there? How do we forgive ourselves for all the things we did not become?” The narrator wishes for parts of their childhood that they can no longer find; a Batman costume can represent so many things — the dreams that became overshadowed by reality, the heroes they can’t look up to anymore, the battles to protect what they loved, the exciting uncertainty of i-could-be-anything, etc.. As time passed, the protection of the costume — the ideas of innocence, of dreams, of heroes and idols, has disappeared. The other detail here is that the costume was put together with a bundle of unmatching clothings by the narrator. This disorganization could either indicate the carefreeness of childhood, or it could be that the narrator’s upbringing had been skewed in some way, so that even in their youth it took efforts to pretend to be Batman.
Continued from last week’s article. If you don’t feel like scrolling back, just see this as a “pick a quote and get a tragedy” game. Or free therapy. Or the opposite of that.
Spoiler Warning for Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin
Content Warning: This article discusses murder and sexual assault, but not explicitly. The novel does not describe the assault in detail but uses vague flashbacks, however other themes are described explicitly like murder, blood, transphobic bullying(not excused by the narrative), and a suicide attempt.
“We’re magic. I can feel it right now in the dark. We’re invisible when we need to be and then so firework-bright no one can look away. We’re patience and brilliance. We never forget. We never forgive.”
— Jade Khanjara, Foul is Fair
If there’s anything anyone should know about me, it’s that I hate spoilers. Over the years this hatred has increased to the point where I rarely read the blurbs of books or the descriptions of movies because I want everything to be a surprise. I don’t want to know what happens at the end of a story before I read it because that takes the fun and anticipation out of it. After all, what’s enjoyable about watching the inevitable unfold? If I know what is going to happen, why would I even bother with the story? I’ve already been robbed of the experience of guessing and waiting to see what happens, so I have nothing to gain from reading it…or so I thought.
You see the foreshadowing. You knew from the very beginning, from the moment you plucked it off the bookshelf, or from the second you clicked into the first chapter, that it’s a story with a bad ending. But you chose to read it. You keep waiting to get hurt, asking to be broken. Maybe you’re so drawn to tragedies because you are one in the making too.
Warning: Spoilers for the short film Shelter
Often I have spent hours watching movies or series only to be left feeling disappointed when they did not leave up to my expectations.
And then I stumbled upon a short film called Shelter. I was never really a big fan of short films, but this short film deeply moved me in a way that I never thought was possible, in a way that many longer series have failed.
I didn’t realize Victor Hugo was buried in the Panthéon when I walked by the magnificent building in Paris, which is strange for me because I’m absolutely obsessed with that city and have been trying to learn everything about it since I got back from my study abroad. His impact on literature is immeasurable and was often thought of as radical.
One story I had the opportunity to read this year was The Epic of Gilgamesh. If you weren’t aware, the Epic of Gilgamesh is labeled as the oldest written epic. Originally written in Akkadian — the language spoken in Sumer — then thousands of years later roughly translated into English. Safe to say I wasted money on a book that didn’t understand the translations either.
Anyway, I found an online version of the text, and then when I finished I was pretty impressed with myself having read the oldest recorded story, and also just satisfied since it was a good read. Now, I say all of this to warn you not to make the same mistake I did and buy a bad paper copy. But also to encourage reading older texts outside of the classroom. More important than that, a question that came to mind after I read it was, “Is Gilgamesh a tragic hero?” And it was too good to ignore so, I’m taking you with me through my thinking process because this is a debated topic.
Cw: mentions of death
It’s no secret that tragedy sells. Audiences love tragic backstories and authors love putting their characters through the most horrific incidents, all in the name of character development… supposedly. The simple truth is, character development does not have to stem from broken homes and trauma, but for some reason it's seen as the best way to become a truly realized person. Not growing emotionally, not building relationships, not overcoming a personal challenge, but instead being crushed and pushed to your absolute limit until you have been hardened into a shell of a person, who broods around, trusts no one and has a mysterious aura. Fun right?