Painfully Awkward Moments

You know those awkward moments in movies and books?  The scenes where someone is failing spectacularly in a social situation?

I hate those scenes.

They make me cringe and want to look away.  In my favorite movies, I fast-forward through them.  In books, I skip them.  I haven’t really written anything like that, probably because I don’t like them.

I know that there are reasons for setting characters up to fail.  I’ve even done it a time or two.  It helps develop who they are for the reader, as well as building their character (for lack of a better word) for future adventures.  This type of social failure doesn’t occur to me when I’m writing, which is probably a good thing.  It makes me uncomfortable just to watch or read, and as I feel what my characters feel, I imagine that writing something like that would be very unpleasant.

How do you react to awkward moments, on the screen or in books?

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer M Eaton
    Jan 30, 2012 @ 18:20:51

    It is important to torture your characters once in a while. It’s the making of grand conflict, and helps us to identify with a character. Everyone fails once in a while. It is reality. It might make you uncomfortable, but it is real.

    Try letting your character fail once in a while. You might find it liberating.

    Reply

  2. Ben
    Jan 30, 2012 @ 21:10:15

    My reaction is so aversive to those situations in movies and TV that I will even get up and leave in order to avoid them. Even when I tell myself that it’s fiction, these are imaginary characters, I hate the feeling of witnessing awkward situations so much that I still can’t stand to be around it. Writing them, though, is a different story– perhaps because I can dictate what will happen?

    Reply

  3. Leigh Townsend
    Jan 31, 2012 @ 19:05:47

    Jennifer – I’ve definitely tortured my characters before, just not with this particular flavor of failure, and you’re right, it does make things feel more real. Ben – I’m with you on the viewing!
    Maybe I should give it a try; it might be useful to just write a scene as practice. 🙂

    Reply

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