This is your brain on memes

I am an internet citizen. Memes are out there. I see them and chuckle along with everyone else. The funny thing is that everything has become fodder for my mind these days. Why should memes be any different.

There has been one floating around for a while now and it stuck with me for a long time, because it relates to writing rules. It also relates to different ways of doing the same thing. If you're one of my regulars, you know I've been at this point before. I'm on the verge of an epiphany, but I haven't quite nailed it down. Sometimes I get clarity by writing about it.

If you stuck with me this long, I'll just jump right to it. This is the one that set me off:

I saw this a month or two ago and never gave it much thought. Last night we went to Guardians of the Galaxy II and it came screaming back into my mind. It actually took me a while to find the meme I wanted. Things on the internet don't have much of a shelf life.

Let's get the movie review out of the way, for those who expect such things… Awesome! I loved it, and so did the rest of my family. I'm sure there are hundreds of reviews in blogland, and this isn't the main purpose of my post.

This whole meme is just an extension of the DC vs Marvel thing that's gone on for generations. You know, Ford vs Chevy, Coke vs Pepsi, etc. I want to enjoy the contrast between the DC and Marvel films. The fact is, I enjoy them both. I can't wait to see the Wonder Woman movie.

This is a whole bunch like my reading habits. I bounce around in genres, and I like the tone of the stories to change from book to book. Truth is, I write this way too.

There were some lighthearted moments in Panama. The Playground had some dark moments. Practical Geology, in my last Experimental Notebook, was very dark. My first Notebook had one called The Soup Ladle of Destiny… lighthearted.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are older than the films, but it took the films to bring me to this point. Who the hell writes this stuff??? It's just batshit crazy. It's also brilliant.

Film has tools that an author doesn't have access to. I would love to have my hero walking in slow motion to a dramatic soundtrack. I'd love to use a sight gag, like when Rocket Raccoon was playing with his land mines. (Just see the film already.) As a writer, I have access to a lot of tools too. I'll just have to go about it a different way.

Last night it occurred to me. When I worry about how a story might be received, I might be holding myself back. Our world is so politically correct, so stressed about fitting within an ordained image, that it can influence our fiction.

Then it occurred to me that another internet meme could help me here:

If I put a governor on my words, I could be preventing myself from writing something brilliant. I even had this conversation with a prominent crime author last year. We discussed what a woman can write that a man cannot. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm working on it. Woman writes a grisly rape and murder scene, she's a woman and it's a serious concern. Man writes the same scene and he's a sick pervert.

She says there is no difference. I still worry about it, and I'll probably never get rid of my filter completely, but it's a great goal.

From now on, I think I'm going to daydream at the finished outline phase. I'm going to assess the insanity and darkness meters. What would a twenty percent adjustment do to the story. What if a dark story were twenty percent darker? What if a lighthearted tale were to go into insane territory? I may not write them that way, but by asking the question, I may be leveling up to a degree.

Help me out here. What do you guys think? Honey Badger might be onto something. The blog world has been kind of quiet, let's get some interaction going.


Filed under Writing

55 responses to “This is your brain on memes

  1. Amen!

    I like the lighter Marvel movies slightly more than the darker DC ones, but I’m also biased because of the actors, not the mood. That said, I like both franchises. And when Jason Momoa finally gets decent film time, my affinity for the DC line will increase substantially.

    And I agree with you… we shouldn’t filter ourselves. We should ask the tough questions and push the boundaries. I, too, am guilty of being cautious. (I disagree with you about male vs. female writers, though; I think either can write anything.) I’m going to try to keep this in mind as I tackle my next project. Maybe I’ll flop. But maybe I’ll reach new heights. We can’t know until we try, right?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Not sure where to start here. The Marvel vs DC thing that has been going on for the last year has actually soured me to the movies. Mostly the Marvel ones because I got sick of that fan-base running into every comic conversation to bash DC. This is my own issue where I can get turned off to a franchise if the fandom becomes predominantly annoying and pompous, so I can’t even really talk about it. This seems to be the norm these days too. For example, there’s a fight in the Samurai Jack fandom regarding last night’s episode. It’s ridiculous because it just drains the fun out of everything. Why can’t people simply like what they like? It isn’t like DC is going to steal Marvel’s mojo. They’re two different types of comic movie and they don’t typically go head-to-head on opening weekends.

    Never really considered that there are some things that only one gender can write. I don’t think rape is taboo for male authors though because they’ve done it a lot in the past. It really depends on the delivery and if it’s insanely gratuitous for the sake of shock. I don’t think either gender would get away with that. Again, times might be changing since everybody has to be angry about everything these days. Now, I will say that women can get away with writing romance more than men. I can’t even think of a male romance author.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I can’t really speak to Marvel vs. DC as I tend to only watch if Loki is involved. Shallow yes, and I can’t even tell you if that’s Marvel or DC. πŸ™‚

    For the most part, I think men and women authors are capable of crossing boundaries, but I think it also has to do with comfort and skill. I hate rape scenes no matter who writes them and will often skip a book if I know a rape involved. When it comes to romances, I haven’t encountered a male author who does them well. By the same token when it comes to first person POV, I prefer a male author writing from a male perspective over a female author writing from a female perspective.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Honey Badger is my idol. I think you can write what you want, and more importantly SHOULD write as you please. People are gonna feel, think, interpret, criticize and praise — it’s six of one, halfa dozen of another. Just do what you want.
    I don’t know what’s DC and what’s Marvel, but I know from the young people that I like both, and this is somehow a faux pas to certain people. I care not. It’s the honey badger in me πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 3 people

    • See, I’m like you. I like what I like, and don’t care if it’s the cool perspective or not. The popularity contests turn me off so much I haven’t voted in a decade. (Not making that comparison to you.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We all worry about this stuff. Every time I think of some weird plot I give it the test. “Would my mother approve of this?” I think it is responsible and ethical to have some kind of filter especially when you have a following who expect certain levels of behavior out of your characters.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Dude, when it comes to boundaries I am a firm believer in overinflating the tires, filling the gas tank with the blood of IRS agents, and running right over the freakin’ line with my foot to the floor and all four tires laying scratch. I’ve passed the limits of good taste and sound judgement so long ago I can’t even see them from here. I’ve written stories that read like the love child of William S. Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson–conceived after both of them were dead. I’m just not happy unless I’m making my readers uncomfortable in some way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I knew that about you. How much of this is your brand though? In other words, how would a sweet romance that you produced be received today? I like your attitude about it all. My pendulum is going that direction right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think my brand–such as it is–does owe a lot to a gonzo, over-the-top,sensibility. People have learned to expect that from me. I’m not sure I could write a sweet romance (the closest I’ve gotten is “The First Man In The World” from “All Those Shiney Worlds”) but if I did I’m sure my fans would be waiting for the story to go off the rails and would probably be disappointed if it didn’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have no doubt you’re correct. We do get pigeonholed after a while.


  7. I respect pushing the envelope. The opening chapter of The Playground, the kids being experimented on and then discarded… disturbing, yes, but it was an excellent opening. I use so many filters when I write, I sometimes wonder what I could produce if I turned them all off!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t think writers should have any boundaries. I for one, am leaning towards the Honey Badger mindset…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Honey badgers rule! As for Marvel vs DC, frankly, I really don’t care which franchise it is; for me, it’s the characters. Although, I wish they’d stop trying to reboot Spiderman already. Sheesh! I think as writers we have the freedom to write what we want, and we should, no matter what others say, just like any other artist. If we didn’t, how would we know what works and what doesn’t? Honey badgers unite! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can tell from visual and intellectual experience that,, pound for pound, honey badgers are the most vicious and tenacious creatures on the planet. Bar none. Once they bite, you stay bitten.
    They are also great parents and a prodigious digger of underground fortresses. In Zoos they have to have reinforced concrete walls and foundations ‘cos wire just doesn’t cut it. At all.
    A great model for a kickass anti-hero! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think you’ve discussed something we all face from time to time. I have to admit that as the world gets darker and bleaker (why doesn’t the media give us a daily dose of something uplifting?), I tend to like lighter, funnier better – especially since reading and movies are an escape mechanism for many.
    With regard to Marvel vs DC movies, I don’t like the dark, scarred, misfit heroes (aniheroes?) Guardians of the Galaxy on the other hand, tickled my funny bone and entertained.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I think that most people like moderation or balance if you prefer that term. So, if you are writing for the average person it is best not to go to dark for example or your plot/story will appeal to a much narrower audience. Even movies are like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You know what I think. If you hold back, you are stifling your creativity. Go for it, Craig. If Patterson and King can get away with it, then so can you. Some readers may not like it, but the ones who do, will love you for the no-hold-bars approach.

    Liked by 1 person

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