So what's the difference between sympathetic and simply pathetic? We've already said it may be in the eyes or mind of the beholder -- at least to some degree. Today I want to share the kinds of stories I love to read, and the sorts I want to write:
- I like stories with heart, stories with emotion. Not for me the Transformers II sort of tale that tends to be "like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Come to think of it, that "tale told by an idiot" may sometimes be a bit too apt.
- I like stories about real (or at least realistic) people who find themselves in unusual circumstances and either rise to the challenge or find crumble beneath its weight. For me, one of the hallmarks of the Harry Potter series was the fact that, magic or no, the characters there still had to make the same kinds of difficult choices, face the same sorts of physical and psychological threats, and deal with the same character challenges that many real, historical, non-magical folks have dealt with over the years, and especially in times of war. Were my parents any less threatened by the spectre of Adolph Hitler than the students at Hogwart's were threatened by Voldemort? Was either bad guy any less a megliomaniac?
- I love a story of deep, sometimes shattering (but real, please?) emotions -- love, hate, pleasure, pain, greed, lust, altruism. Old Testament tales and Shakespeare's sagas shared in plays have nothing on the good storytellers of our day.
- I want the good guys to win. Yes, they may well go through a metaphysical underworld before they come out on the hilltop, but if the bad guys win, what was the point of telling that story at all? (P.S. - I absolutely hated the movie "The Perfect Storm." Why get me caring about all those people if not a single one of them was going to make it in the end?) Sorry about the spoiler.
- I love the kind of story where people overcome challenges that seem much larger than themselves. Perhaps that's why I admire Scarlett O'Hara despite some of the maddeningly selfish decisions she made. She lived through war, hunger and devastation and not only survived, but thrived. Now, if she'd only been kinder to the people around her . . .