Last week, I spent an entire day painting my deck and pergola. (Pergola is a fancy word for an area with a freestanding roof.) The task was exhausting, but the results were worth the effort. During my delightful task, I let my thoughts drift.
At one point, I got upset while applying masking tape to hold up the protective plastic. Unfortunately, my body angle was in an awkward position, and the tape did not stick to the wall. As my tumultuous thoughts swirled, they centered on a former girlfriend. I enjoyed being around her, but she had many issues. The central problem was that she hated her specialized medical job and had no hope of a different job because she spent years in school and needed to work to pay off massive loans.
One day, she ended our relationship. In the conversation, she confessed to requiring a man that “could take me away from all this.” The loss saddened and confused me.
This event happened years ago, and I am now married to a wonderful woman. While struggling with the tape, I began thinking how great my life is and how fortunate it was that this prior relationship had ended when it did.
However, the positive mental image was insufficient to get me out of my funk. Suddenly I smiled through my protective face mask (for paint fumes and not covid). I began thinking that the guy who ended up with my former girlfriend was probably miserable at that very moment. I felt great because I had the last laugh. Yay!
Are such “immoral thoughts” good, ethical, or wise? Who cares! Our thoughts are our thoughts. People’s actions make them good or bad. We do what in our own mind to get through the day only belongs to us. In my case, the painting became a little less difficult by adding an “immoral” thought.
Enough! What’s really going on? Do we secretly desire to watch people who have hurt us fail? Umm, sometimes. What about a great person? Can they think about revenge? For a mentally healthy person, exploring all aspects of a topic and using any thoughts to mentally balance ourselves is essential. Granted, it is unhealthy to dwell on the negatives.
But what about my former girlfriend? Am I being fair to her because I made a “mean gesture?” No, I only had a “mean thought.” Well… It was until this blog.
What does petty mental revenge have to do with writing? Ahh, there is another aspect to this incident. Confronting my sadness allowed me to close the loop. Each time I think about my sad feelings of the past, I can lessen their impact (hold over my positive life). However, in writing, we must close this loop quickly. How quick? Things better get resolved before the end of the book!
Characters have a compressed timeline, meaning they must immediately confront their issues. Why? Readers dislike unresolved elements of the plot or characters. So, in almost every case, the characters get the last laugh.
If my example was in a book, the character would find somebody else immediately after the breakup and begin dating a cheerful person. As a result, their pain would disappear, allowing them to have the last laugh. “I am happy now.” They might even remark, “Hey, I bet the guy who ends up with her will be miserable!” And that is how the character closes the emotional loop and satisfies readers. Hey, this allows one more thing. Now, my four blog readers can have the last laugh.
You’re the best -Bill
November 16, 2022
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