Francine - harvest
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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Hmm -- when is fic art?


For me, I mean. A neurotic ramble that I was going to post as a reply to wesleysgirl's comment on byrne's lj -- but LJ is being a beeyotch, so I'll post it here instead. It was tangential anyway, and concidentally prompted by a chat with benaresq as well.



When I write stories, I see them as art (with a couple of specific exceptions where I let myself be too close to the story, and really can't distance myself from it). Not in the "hang it on the wall, ha, I have created Art" sense. I don't see them as *good* art, necessarily. I just mean that I see them as something that I'm *trying* to make good, to use the right words, to provoke a specific reaction. To make something people will think is pretty.

When I read them, I don't think of [most] stories as art. Unless I know going in that I'm not deeply into the characters or don't like them, and it's going to be all about the language, or I'm beta-reading or otherwise purposely acting as editor/critic. When I read stories for me, they're a) entertainment b)escape c) an emotional experience. I'm reading to get into the characters' heads and have an adventure - be it an actual rip-rollicking swinging through the woods on vines adventure, or a falling in love and fighting about who last changed the cat litter adventure. If I *like* the characters, enough to get into it, then I become the POV characters. That's not art, for me; it's living.

And thus when something happens in the story that may be great art -- the death of a main character, the realization that not all love stories work out -- it not only dumps me badly out of the story, but hits me where it hurts, because I've let the characters into my head. I've let them become me -- or at least a part of me -- and I can't look at it on a critical level and say "Wow, what a brave/brilliant/heartwrenching thing to do."

Yet I'm actually willing to write a story where a character dies; even the main character. Have, at least co-written. A) because it wasn't a character whom I identify with from the original media source (i.e. - I can kill Riley in a story because I'm neutral about him. I can't kill Xander because the show has already made him one of the characters whose eyes I can see through) and B) because I'm writing. I'm co-writing a story with zort where a main character eventually dies and another is devastated by it -- I can -- just -- handle this because we're *making* the story.

If I were reading a similar story, with the same characters being affected the same way? I would be horribly disturbed and wouldn't be able to think of it as just effective art. I get angry and sad, that someone would do such things to the characters I love, and to an extent, to me, insofar as I identify with the POV character and am experiencing the events of the story. And frustrated because I know objectively that I have no right to be angry at the author for doing these things, but I am -- at least temporarily. *

And *then* I go looking for things that are artistically wrong with the story, for my own peace of mind, so that I can prove to myself "See, that would never have happened, and this character never did feel right, therefore the bad events in the story weren't real." On that mental Heinlein scale of fictional reality, where every real person is fictional somewhere and vice versa -- or just on a completely subjective emotional feeling of realness.

So -- I'm very bad at talking about stories that affect me deeply, as art -- because I can't look at them as a thing, to be admired. If there's an incredibly well-placed dramatic death that ttally fucks with the reader's mind, and I say "Your story left me devastated and angry and heartbroken" and the author says "Hooray! That's what I was going for!" I find myself very glad that I'm not in range of throwing things at them. [edit see footnote 2] Because I don't *want* to be devastated and angry and heartbroken. I can be entertained by watching it happen to other people, characters I'm not so attached to, or by experiencing it and having the main character learn to deal with it -- but when the story ends with badness, when the point of the story is that badness happens and sometimes we can't do anything about it... I lose all concept of it as art. It's just a horrible experience that I didn't enjoy going through, and don't particularly like the idea that it *pleases* someone that I went through it.

Which is why I avoid character death stories like the plague, for the most part -- this was all about me and how I react to things, not about an author's responsibility to protect me. Yet, like I said -- as a writer -- I'm participating in a story that could affect other people in exactly the same way. Because it's art. Because I can. Because trying to evoke those emotions in other people (though hopefully only people who *like* having those emotions evoked in them, whereas I don't) makes me feel accomplished, if it works.

___

* And yet, I know there are writers who, when the bad things happen in their stories, aren't doing it to be true to Capital-A Art, but to be true to the story that's being told. People who have the characters living in *their* heads too. And man, that has *got* to suck - -when you don't want the characters to be unhappy, yet that's the way they *are*. I've done that a few times, and pulled them out of it, but there are situations where I'm afraid to write much more, for fear I'll do it again and not be able to fix it.

** 2: I think what I mean here is actually that if I say in my 5 year old voice: "I hate, you, bad mean author, you broke my Xander" in my head, then I see the author in some other forum, like LJ or onlist discussion or such, say "Yay, people were heartbroken!" then I feel like throwing things. I don't actually engage directly with an author or *try* to be critical in any way, at a point when I know I'm not ready to be rational about the story. Which does not mean that I have *never* done this. There's always a test case. It also doesn't mean that evil awkwardness doesn't arise when the 'bad mean author' is a friend, and I *can't* just go away and not talk about the story til I can be not upset, because they're actually sitting there asking me what I thought of it. Then I start looking for the escape pod and hiding under the desk. Someday I will learn to listen to the voice that says "Amy, don't read that story -- no, it doesn't matter who wrote it, don't read it. You will be mad and angry and sad and even small children and sad-faced mimes will laugh at you."


stakebait

2003-04-25 08:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Now you made me ramble about why I do like that kind of thing. Damn you & your thought provoking essays! :)

And yet, I know there are writers who, when the bad things happen in their stories, aren't doing it to be true to Capital-A Art, but to be true to the story that's being told.

Huh. I don't get the "but", there. For me that's "and". Or maybe "because"? To me, art=true. Yeah, there's pretty things to do with words, & pretty is good, but pretty without true is like gilded garbage. They don't always come off, but I don't set out to tell any stories that don't ring true to me.

I don't detach from art when I'm reading it either (or watching it, or looking at it, or whatever.) If art doesn't move me emotionally, I don't much care how technically perfect it is -- it's got nothing to say, or nothing I can hear. To me, making it part of me is the proof that it works. If I'm not living it, it's dead, as far as I'm concerned.

(I'm exaggerating for effect here. In my youth I had a hard on for Brecht's Threepenny Opera, so I swallowed a lot of his theories about remind the viewer of the artificiality of the medium, detach critique detach. Also because they'd have allowed me to smoke in the theatre. But in the end, to me, that's about realism versus what I guess you might call impressionism. Either way, I still have to care, & I still need the artist to care.)

And god knows I have the characters living in my head. (Shut up in there, I'm writing to MP!) But I don't always want or need a happy ending for them. Or maybe I just don't mean the same thing by a happy ending. I want the characters to be themselves. I want them to grow & change & get stronger & wiser. I want them to confront & know & accept themselves, even the unpalatable parts. I want them to make, in the end, the right choices. To me that *is* a happy ending.

And if it's pain that's the catalyst which makes that happen -- and it often is -- I'm okay with that. That's the good pain to me, the bitter that makes the sweet sweeter. Even if they die or lose their loves or their friends or whatever was precious to them. Its the Angelus & Buffy conversation -- "What's left? Me." You don't find that out until you lose everything else. And it's worth it.

At least, to me as a reader & a writer it is. As a character, I want a nice boring story where we all get everything we want & settle down to enjoy it. (This is, incidentally, why the idea of God as artist is one of the few that doesn't make me want to bitch slap the guy. But that's another ramble and shall be told another time.)

I guess part of it for me is -- I *do* want to be devastated & angry & heartbroken. Or rather, I want to be *vicariously* devastated & angry & heartbroken, I want to be a *little* devastated & angry & heartbroken, and then go home for tea. Which is not something that works as well by going out and offering my actual heart to someone who doesn't particularly want it or know what to do with it.

I want to believe that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger, I want to believe in the power of that booby prize the Learning Experience, I want to survive terrible trials & become the sort of person who has looked on beauty & terror & been unafraid. But actually I'm the sort of person who looks on computer screens, & occasionally my cat.

So I want to look on other people's beauty & terror, & see if I can cheat & empathize my way in to a grander, sadder, more tragic & heroic universe than the one I actually live in. And sometimes that means pain. I wouldn't love LOTR so much if it were all the Shire, you know? I wouldn't love Aragorn, or Wesley, or Spike so much if they didn't hurt so hard. I want them to triumph over that, but I don't want to take it away.

The only stories I've read that disturb me the way it sounds like you're disturbed are the ones where I feel like the characters themselves, not just their lives and surroundings, are destroyed; that they're not themselves any more, not because they're OOC to start with, but because the author started them in character & then broke them & scattered the peices so the phoenix couldn't rise. There's a Buffy/Wesley, I wish I could remember the author or the name, that did that to me. But it's rare.

Mer

mpoetess

2003-04-25 09:32 am (UTC) (Link)

And yet, I know there are writers who, when the bad things happen in their stories, aren't doing it to be true to Capital-A Art, but to be true to the story that's being told.

Huh. I don't get the "but", there. For me that's "and". Or maybe "because"? To me, art=true. Yeah, there's pretty things to do with words, & pretty is good, but pretty without true is like gilded garbage. They don't always come off, but I don't set out to tell any stories that don't ring true to me.

I guess what I mean is, there are writers who are more about telling the story (or listening to the characters) as it appears in their head, because it's a compulsion, and they do personally care about the characters and what happens to them, perhaps as much or more than I the reader do.

Vs. writers who are excellent crafters of stories, but come in with the *intent* of writing a story that does this and this and this to the reader. They can use the characters beautifully to achieve that end, and they understand the motivations and emotions of the characters, but they're not being pushed and pulled and torn apart by them. I know writers (coughbyrnecough) of the first sort, and I do it myself with certain stories. I've seen stories that I suspect are by writers of the second sort, and read commentary about writing that seems to reflect that frame of mind -- and again, I do it myself on stories where the characters aren't the ones who are as near and dear to my heart as others.


___

The only stories I've read that disturb me the way it sounds like you're disturbed are the ones where I feel like the characters themselves, not just their lives and surroundings, are destroyed; that they're not themselves any more, not because they're OOC to start with, but because the author started them in character & then broke them & scattered the peices so the phoenix couldn't rise.

Those are the ones that get to me the most. Where they're just left shattered. I'll accept a lot for the sort of learning experiences you're talking about -- but when the only learning experience at the very end is "Life sucks and then you die" -- then I lose it.

I think maybe my lines of where that's the main message are just different from (more self-defensive than, possibly) yours. I tend to hate stories about appreciating the beauty of that one moment -- Spike letting Xander grow old and die because his humanity is so much a part of him that Spike couldn't take it away (not talking evil soulless Xander as a result, just "Xander would never want to be a vampire so I won't even bring it up") and it's all the more sweet for being temporary... bleh! That reads to me as "Life sucks, teases you with moments of happiness then takes them away, and then you die. Or live forever unhappy."

I think when I say I hate death and unhappy-ending stories, I seem more self-sheltering than I am. I'll watch the characters I care about go through *all* sorts of soul-destroying crap. As long as they can recover from it; as long as there's hope.

djinanna

2003-04-25 09:41 am (UTC) (Link)

>>I think when I say I hate death and unhappy-ending stories, I seem more self-sheltering than I am. I'll watch the characters I care about go through *all* sorts of soul-destroying crap. As long as they can recover from it; as long as there's hope.<<

*nods* See, there's that brain-sharing thing again.

Or maybe we're just hooked into the same over-brain. (And suddenly I get Matrix-like imagery and flashes of really old scifi books with similar plugged-in humans -- *creepy*)

stakebait

2003-04-25 10:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Vs. writers who are excellent crafters of stories, but come in with the *intent* of writing a story that does this and this and this to the reader. They can use the characters beautifully to achieve that end, and they understand the motivations and emotions of the characters, but they're not being pushed and pulled and torn apart by them.

I dunno, I guess you're right that for some people it is one or the other, but emotionally that still feels like an "and" to me. Because I've been called that kind of writer before, and its not wrong. I certainly do get happy when people react strongly to my angsty stories, because it means they have power. (And I tend to assume people wouldn't keep reading if they didn't like angst, so I honestly never considered that they'd be mad at me for doing it, any more than people get mad when horror movies are scary.)

But I've also been called the other kind of writer before, and its not wrong either. I've been known to stay up all night crying because Inner Buffy was feeling bereft. (No, just the once. Yeah, there were extenuating circumstances. No, I don't usually tell that story, lest people call the men with the butterfly nets.)

They don't feel antithetical to me. They feel complimentary. The characters move me and I move the characters and it's simultaneously a process of discovering the inevitable, method acting, and deliberate crafting to produce the desired effect. I definitely want the reader to be shocked or saddened or see someone in a whole new light. I have an agenda, and I polish the dialogue and the narrative voice to achieve it. But at the same time, I don't just decide "I want to make people sad today" and then pull the characters to do it with out of a hat. I find out the story from the characters, and then I realize how it made me feel when I realized what it had to be, and then I go and sharpen the words until it makes other people feel the same.

I tend to hate stories about appreciating the beauty of that one moment -- Spike letting Xander grow old and die because his humanity is so much a part of him that Spike couldn't take it away (not talking evil soulless Xander as a result, just "Xander would never want to be a vampire so I won't even bring it up") and it's all the more sweet for being temporary... bleh! That reads to me as "Life sucks, teases you with moments of happiness then takes them away, and then you die. Or live forever unhappy."

Ah, see I love those. Not necessarily Spike and Xander, because it's Spike and Xander and not my kink. But I'm all about the beauty of the one moment.

Maybe it's a life philosophy thing? That is, more or less, what I believe, and it doesn't make me unhappy. So seeing it in fic doesn't make me unhappy either. Maybe not quite so negatively phrased, though. More like -- "Life is what it is, a bunch of moments that end, with no meaning but what we give them. So it's all the more important to give them meaning. Some moments suck and some are beautiful, and the key to being happy is to appreciate the beauty on its own terms for as long as it lasts, let it fill you and anchor in your soul and become a quiet chapel in the woods that you can return to in memory when you need solace or a touchstone." That and "You can't have joy without pain, and joy is worth pain, always." Which last, I realize, is unprovable. It's just an article of faith -- one of the very few I have.

Mer

wesleysgirl

2003-04-25 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)

/me looks suspiciously at Mer, who appears to have the brain (or possibly the heart) today.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Me too. To everything you've said.

That and "You can't have joy without pain, and joy is worth pain, always." Which last, I realize, is unprovable. It's just an article of faith -- one of the very few I have.

Especially this.

mpoetess

2003-04-25 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)

I dunno, I guess you're right that for some people it is one or the other, but emotionally that still feels like an "and" to me.

It is -- like I said, I've done both too, with different stories and situations. That "or" was just there to acknowledge that when I say I want to throw things at people who are glad their devastating ending made me hurt and feel like crap, I do know there are people who write devastating endings because they *must*, not just because they can.

And I tend to assume people wouldn't keep reading if they didn't like angst, so I honestly never considered that they'd be mad at me for doing it, any more than people get mad when horror movies are scary

I think for me, it's only when stories have a chance of going either way, and they go the depressing way -- when I don't start out knowing for sure that the angst is going to remain angsty and there's not going to be what I'd consider a hopeful ending -- that I get mad at the writer/story. You know going in that a horror movie is going to be scary. You know going in that a certain story is going to be angsty. But you don't necessarily know the resolution of that angst -- whether it's going to be, to me personally, worth the angst on the other side.

If I said "I read deathfic that's labeled as deathfic and get mad when the characters die," I'd be a loon, I think. But when the story could go either way, and the way it happens to go is unhappy for the characters, then it's not so much a knowing ahead of time. I *do* try to avoid fiction that is likely to go that way; or if I read it, I come in knowing that, and mentally protect myself accordingly. Detach from the characters and try to view it only as craft, or pick stories where I'm not *already* attached to the characters. And I recognise that when I get mad at an author, it's not rational; there's no blame on the writer's part, and I back away from the story and deal with it my own way.

The only times when it actually makes me truly angry at the writer are when I feel like the author is tricking me. Implying a hopeful resolution and then switching it for a devastating one because it's more dramatic, not because it's the only way the story could work out. Or having a story that I know from the get-go is going to be depressing, but seems to be about characters I'm not attached to, suddenly turn out through slight of hand to be about a character I *do* care for. There's almost nothing I get more upset about than a surprise-ending death story of either sort. "You thought it was Angel, whom you only care peripherially about, and would just be melancholy over, but wait! It's really Xander who's dead!" or "But ha! He's talking to the tombstone! Buffy has been dead for a century!" They're very clever, when done right. They're highly effective, and can be artistically beautiful. And I feel like they exist for the sheer purpose of luring me out of my own personal reading limits, then smacking me with something that I set up those reading limits in the first place to avoid having to deal with.

stakebait

2003-04-25 11:12 am (UTC) (Link)

That "or" was just there to acknowledge that when I say I want to throw things at people who are glad their devastating ending made me hurt and feel like crap, I do know there are people who write devastating endings because they *must*, not just because they can.

OIC. Makes sense.

I get the rest of it. But I personally adore plot twists, in stories and in canon, so I'd be sad if people stopped doing it, or even labeled it in such a way that it spoiled the ending. I guess, for me, I feel like they exist to get under my defenses -- but I *want* them under my defenses. They shake up my brain and my heart and make me get outside my preconceptions about various characters and relationships, like those weird drawings of two faces that turn out to be a vase.

Mer

wolfling

2003-04-25 11:10 am (UTC) (Link)

I'm definitely over in MP's camp on this issue.

I can read well written death stories and unhappy ending stories and appreciate them from a writer's pov, as a well crafted and put together story. But I don't like these stories and I don't read them when certain characters that I identify more strongly with than others are involved.

I tend to be the same for both writing and reading: I can put characters through angst and hurt and all of that, but I need to give them a happy, or at least a hopeful ending. This desire for me is so strong that I have occasionally written "fixit" fics for other people's stories (with permission) that did leave the characters in an unhappy place. I've been guilty of, when writing a story, seeing a way that it could end that would strong and breathtaking and painful but instead twisting the story so I can give them a happy ending. I just couldn't do that to the characters, even if it might have been a stronger story for the unhappy ending.

Yes, in real life, loss and death and tragedy and unhappiness are all realities and we have to deal with them and live with them, perhaps even as the ultimate outcome. But it's not something I want to read about. I'd much rather read a story about Spike and Xander finding a way to stay together regardless than a story about "that perfect moment when Spike lets Xander die." To me, that's not a perfect moment. It's Xander dying. It's loss and grief and even if there was no other choice, it's hurt. Especially in a situation with a vampire and a human, who we're not sure are going to the same afterlife place (especially pre souled Spike) and so this is ending is forever.

It may be real, but I don't want to read it.

And it doesn't matter how much other people love those kind of stories or want to experience vicariously that kind of pain. They can state their opinions and how gorgeously it's told and how real and how pretty it hurts. It's not going to make me suddenly like to read these kind of stories.

I certainly won't be writing them; there's always going to be hope at the end of my stories for the characters if not out and out happiness. I don't think that makes me any less of a reader or a writer. It's just a preference, and one that isn't going to change, or that I see a need to change.

stakebait

2003-04-25 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)

I don't think that makes me any less of a reader or a writer. It's just a preference, and one that isn't going to change, or that I see a need to change.

Oh, dear. I certainly didn't mean to say that it did. I don't think any of this means that anybody is less of anything. I was just talking about why I felt differently -- I didn't mean to imply that y'all should too.

Mer


wolfling

2003-04-25 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

That last paragraph of my post wasn't really directed at you specifically; more an assertment that's come out of having this discussion before and the attitude that had been directed towards me and others with my opinion to that kind of angst/unhappy endings that somehow we're lesser readers, or unable to handle reality or some such rot.

I do think this kind of thing is totally just preference and not something that any amount of discussion can change a person's view on. I understand intellectually that there are some people who like death stories, who even seek them out, who like seeing the characters put through the wringer and don't care if they're put back together afterwards.

But emotionally? I just can't get into their shoes. I think maybe because I identify too closely with the characters, get too far into their heads. To me, reading a death story about a character I'm that close to, such as Giles in Buffy fandom, would be like reading a death story about a friend. It's just... icky.

stakebait

2003-04-25 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

*phew* That's a relief. I worried, because you seemed offended, and I do try not to insult my friends. Particularly when I agree with them. It's preference, not precedence. Why should you read what you don't like? I'm not going to make assumptions about what you can't handle -- and I wouldn't say you were lesser even if you couldn't. Fic's not an endurance contest.

And I don't suppose any amount of discussion *would* change anyone's views, but then I'm not trying to. I just like to know why people think what they think, and I like to talk about what I think that's different, 'cause sometimes it helps me understand me better.

I just figured, since MP had the no side well in hand, that I'd say a few words for yes as my own preference. I don't want the characters to suffer, and yet I love them in part for how they bear up under suffering, and so I tend to enjoy reading it. And watching it, for that matter. I wouldn't care for the Buffy characters half so much as I do if it weren't for how I've watched them pay the price for saving the world over and over.

I dunno how I'd feel about angst in a fandom where the canon itself was less angsty -- I can't imagine anything more disturbing than a Rugrats deathfic -- but in this one since its such a big part of what I like about the show, I like it in the fanfic too.

Then again, my favorite Shakespeare Play is King Lear and my favorite fantasy novel, at the moment anyway, is Tigana, and they both have some serious body counts. It's possible I'm just a morbid little fuck.

Mer

mpoetess

2003-04-25 11:17 am (UTC) (Link)

More :-)

Some moments suck and some are beautiful, and the key to being happy is to appreciate the beauty on its own terms for as long as it lasts, let it fill you and anchor in your soul and become a quiet chapel in the woods that you can return to in memory when you need solace or a touchstone."

That may be an issue for me because I'm *always* thinking ahead. Part of the nature of my depression when I get really down is that even happy moments make me feel bad because I know they're going to end. I haven't been that down in a few years, but reading fiction that reinforces that feeling does nasty things to my brain. The only way I got over (if you can call it that; it's still there, just muted) my massive year and a half of obssession with "We are all going to die someday. I am going to die someday. What if it all ends? What if I become nothing? I don't want to end. I don't want to be afraid of this. Nothing is good or right because it's all going to end and die and what happens then?" was a) deciding there's an afterlife of some sort and doing everything I can to convince myself it's so because otherwise I will go absolutely stark raving crazy and b) going lalalalalalala really loudly and covering my ears whenever I start having those thoughts again.

Which includes avoiding deathfic and really depressing stories about characters I identify strongly with, unless they have a resolution that gives me hope. AKA -- deathfic where the twist at the end is that he's been talking to a ghost all along? Fine with me. Breakup stories where there's understated hope for the parties I care about to be happy again? Fine with me. Actually, most death-related things in the Buffyverse that don't seem to have forgotten that hey, there *is* a canonical afterlife, you know.. I'm pretty ok with.


That and "You can't have joy without pain, and joy is worth pain, always." Which last, I realize, is unprovable. It's just an article of faith -- one of the very few I have.


I think joy is absolutely worth pain -- but it tears me apart when the joy comes first and the pain comes last. In fiction and in life. The idea that there's joy, and then there's nothing... is what I've spent the last 4 years or so desperately trying to convince myself isn't so.


stakebait

2003-04-25 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)

*hugs* That makes sense. In life I almost prefer joy first, pain after, on the "eat dessert first" sort of principle. In stories I'm pretty neutral, but I can see why it would bother you.

And as you say, there's a canonical afterlife in the Jossverse.

And I'm an atheist, and an existentialist, and oddly cheerful about it, so I won't say any more about that, alright? I haven't got the least bit of evidence for it, and I don't like depressing my friends.

Mer

zortified

2003-04-25 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)

I find it interesting that you say you want to see characters making the right choice. I've pondered this in my own fic, because I realise I tend towards the idealised side of this in making my characters know what needs to be known, and say and do the right things. I'm trying to allow my characters to be real, rather than right, and that means making bad choices and bad decisions and moving on from that.

But that is, I think, the sort of unhappy story that would make MP pout at me. (Other than the "poorly written, angst for angst-sake regardless of how out of character or how illogical or inconsistent to the plot it is).

I still like it when the characters end up happy, but what fascinates me about writing is trying to remain true to the character as best I can within the situation I've created. Sometimes that means the characters do things I don't want them to. But it's like getting more canon, when fanfic is in character - and canon is still my fav. (Except for the slashy smut. Canon slashy smut would be delightful.)

stakebait

2003-04-25 10:10 am (UTC) (Link)

[nods] That makes sense, and I agree with you, real is better than right, but right is tempting, in a wish fulfillment way, so it's hard to fight against.

I guess I should say I want to see them making the right choice in the end. I'm more than fine with seeing them make bad decisions along the way, because that's what makes them human and three-dimensional and interesting, but I want them to learn and grow and realize something from it. At which point they can go on to make new mistakes. :)

And sometimes the realization can be that you can't fix the past, you can only go on to make the best of it. That to me still counts as a happy ending, so long as you actually do.

What I don't like is seeing characters making the same mistake over and over and over and over without learning anything from it. I know it happens in real life sometimes, but it gives me the screaming heebie jeebies like the time loop episode of Buffy. And I don't like to see characters who are always wrong. That doesn't feel any more realistic to me than always right, and its painful and boring for me to watch. (Buffy season 6, Connor, we're looking at you.)

I think my favorite kind of conflicts are the ones where everyone's right, from their own point of view. That feels like Greek tragedy, inevitable and poignant.

Mer