Irrationality and empathetic appeal in fiction (and why it’s not reliable)

I can’t usually relate to other people. I can’t say I’m entirely clear on why, but if someone, be it in real life or in fiction, asks me to imagine how somebody else feels, there is an extremely low probability that I will actually be able to do so. If it has anything to do with relationships, it’s practically nil, and when creators decide to focus on scenes that feature stuff such as that, I’ll probably try to skip through it as fast as possible, since unless it is absolutely vital to the plot, I have absolutely no interest in it.

Something else that fails to appeal to me 99% of the time is “comedic” irrationality. I put comedic in quotes because I usually fail to see any real humour in non-sequitur writing, hyperbole, casual sarcasm, or similar dialogue devices. Most of the time, I perceive them as something extremely juvenile, attributed to a character to give them some sort of appeal that I cannot understand, which I see as nothing more than an attempt to develop them without actually making them significant.

However, if my experience on the internet has shown me anything, it’s that apparently there is a number of people that is both numerous and vocal to whom this sort of thing has a tremendous appeal. As puzzling as I find it, I cannot find another explanation for the success of such things as YouTube Let’s Players, Tumblr blogs, and Doctor Who episodes written by Steven Moffat.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I was entirely unappreciative of the impact of emotion in fiction. However, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, I think that in order for that to be effective, it should be handled with some degree of subtlety. If I’m watching a television show and suddenly there are eight straight minutes of unrealistic talking between characters that have repeatedly exhibited the aforementioned traits with over-dramatic music playing in the background, chances are I’ll be flailing my arms and yelling at the screen the entire time for them to get on with the plot, without feeling an ounce of emotion. And when I say that, I am also completely certain that just as there are millions who disagree, there are just as many people who share in my opinion.

So, how do I think stuff like that should be handled? I won’t expect anyone reading this to follow it, but I believe I should at least explain my own reasoning.

I am an extremely rational person. When I write, I believe fiction should make sense, or at least be intuitive, and I value the importance of ideas over that of events, which I value over that of characters. If I want to establish emotion pertaining to a character or groups of characters, I would much rather make a subtle implication and let the reader imagine what they will, without setting anything in stone, and definitely without interrupting the plot for one word longer than necessary.

Whatever your opinion is, I believe this post should at least help in clarifying my own stance on writing such as this. Now, if you are the sort of person who actually enjoys writing like that, I would very much like for you to explain why it is that you like it in the comments, since I have asked that to people before and only received one real explanation, which has been contradicted by another who shared their opinion. Thank you very much for reading, at any rate.

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About ikerrivercast

Iker Rivercast is a natural born loner with a knack for writing and programming. When he's not sleeping or otherwise putting off being productive, you'll likely find him trying something new with his written work. View all posts by ikerrivercast

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