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Offbeat Advice

Life Truths I Have Learned From Scripts and a Screenwriter

I have a long-time neighbor and friend who is also an award-winning screenwriter. He has written screenplays that deal with murder, motherhood, loneliness, lust, insecurity, empathy, being a black sheep, being a fish out of water. While he can write horror and sci-fi, the majority of his scripts are realistic and showcase the thrills, chills, wonder, and weirdness that occurs in real life. Thus, reading his scripts — most for the screen — has brought me some revelations about life offscreen. (In the case of screenplays, art not only imitates life, it examines and evaluates and influences it.) A few things I have learned:

Conclusion does not necessarily bring closure. Situations — an unsolved crime, a family dispute, an illness — may come to an end, but that ending does not necessarily bring any answers or comfort to anyone. The killer gets caught but the victims’ families still grieve. The lonely guy makes a friend but still doesn’t find love. The alcoholic makes peace with his past mistakes but cannot stop drinking. The war is over but the winner is broke. The end of bad times may bring relief but not resolution. An ending — even one with revenge — rarely heals any wounds. This is true in movies and in real life. People may celebrate the end of a bad scene for a bit, but usually they just pick up and move on (and clean up).

When someone is horrible and you wonder what happened to make them that way, the answer is often NOTHING. Or at least nothing extraordinary. While there are people killing children or setting houses on fire due to one very traumatic event, most people are the way they are due to how they learned to handle the ordinary ups and downs in their lives. For every person who is shooting at cars on the freeway and points to a lousy childhood or some injustice or mistreatment of some sort … well, there is a successful business owner or a great teacher or other well-adjusted person who had a lousy childhood, grew up poor, and was picked on and does not rob people or melt down in public. Of course, they don’t get any press. The serial killer is way more interesting than the guy who owns the shoe store, If you scratch the surface, however, you may find they ain’t all that much different other than the store owner chose to take a more constructive path.

More on this subject at a later date … in the meantime, go to the movies!

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