I finished the first three seasons of Cobra Kai and can I just say I haven’t hated a villain this much since Queen Cersei in Game of Thrones. The baddie Mr Kreese is just as awful as he was in the original movie. The writers of Cobra Kai are giving us his back story now; he wasn’t the same after his beloved girlfriend died and his tour of duty in Vietnam but does that excuse his gas lighting, cruelty and sociopathy? I think not. I am fairly confident we will get a Hollywood ending to the whole series, a happily ever after to let us know that good always prevails over evil but I have lived enough life and watched enough French cinema to know that sometimes the bad guys win.
Over the last few years storytellers have realised that audiences want to hear the villain’s side of the story. Even in real life, every shared trauma has a perpetrator but often, no matter how heavy the transgression, that person sees themselves as a victim too. No one sees themselves as the villain of the piece and as the character of Alli Mills says in Cobra Kai there are three versions of every story; yours, theirs, and the truth.
HUman beings are curators. Each polishes his or her own favoured memories, arranging them in order to create a narrative that pleases. some events are repaired and buffed for display; others are deemed unworthy and cast aside, shelved below ground in the overflowing store-room of the mind. There with any luck, they are promptly forgotten. The process is not dishonest; it is the only way that people can live with themselves and the weight of their experiences.Kate Morton, The Clockmaker’s Daughter
Guilt and regret can colour how we see the past. It’s easier to view oneself as the victim than to admit any wrongdoing. I’ll admit I often behaved like an ass after my first husband died, but in my defence I was 22, and not a particularly emotionally intelligent 22 year old. I’ve done the therapy and the tapping, the hypnotherapy and the journaling, the meditation and the retreats. I’ve had about as much closure as I’m ever going to get but I’d still love to do an ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ if I could keep the lessons somehow.
I could run up quite a bill at the Eternal Sunshine clinic. I had a bit of a run-in with a family member this week over the whole selective memory thing. I said something that was a bit brutal and unnecessary, I’ll admit it. I was actually shocked at the immaturity of my own feelings on the inciting incident. I mean it’s a big one, a major trauma, but still, I like to think I’m so zen and above it all with my meditation and my journalling. Gah! How mortifying to realise that despite all the work and the therapy I’m still a soggy mush of trigger points just like everyone else on earth. How boring I am.
One thing that was different about this interaction compared with previous ones was I immediately saw that I had to deal with it differently. I have two options with this situation and one of them involves blowing everything up and making the person feel like shit or I can take the path of love. I’m not going to get anywhere for myself or them by agitating. It’s not a situation that is ever going to be resolved; there is always going to be three sides to this story, theirs, mine, and the truth.
I am not sure if I’ve mentioned this but I have re-joined the local Writers’ association. It went through a bit of a dark period, taking a detour into something that didn’t work for me, so I bowed out. I wanted a writers’ association that was about writing and some of the committee members seemed to be more publishing focussed. It’s a consideration for most writers of course, but at the end of the day a writers’ association should be first and foremost about writing! Call me old-fashioned…
Yesterday, my soul-sis and fellow #StrongFemaleProtagonist presented an excellent workshop on using personality tools to help develop complex and believable characters. She showed us how to use the VARK guide to learning styles and the Five Love Languages to give our characters real flaws and drives.
The trick is to answer the quiz questions the way our characters would.
When I first started writing, my characters were largely based on my personality as it is (Rachel from Hotel Deja Vu), or as I’d wish it to be (Alia!), or on friends and acquaintances. But the two main characters in Mimi Gets away with Murder, sisters Mimi and Nicole, are polar opposites. Mimi’s love language is a combination of Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts while her sister’s is Quality Time. Nicole’s traumatic early teens have left her unable to stand being touched and hates to be told she is beautiful, while Mimi simply can’t live without it. Mimi is a Kinaesthetic learner while Nicole is Read/Write, perfect for the woman who has a secret contraband library under her stairs.
Mimi must be nasty and damaged on the inside and shiny and perfect on the outside. She’s a true villain. I’m thinking of working out which Enneagram the sisters are although I have a sneaking suspicion Nicole is a 4 like me. Oooh, and Myers-Briggs. Mimi would be ESFP for sure. This is fun!
My second novel, Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer is featuring in a great promo this month for Romantic Comedy Reads.