The Bad Storyteller will tell you that good things happen to bad people. And bad things happen to good people. And we believe them. Because we posit goodness and badness everyday. Because we judge who belongs on either side of the good vs evil divide, and have done so from the very first time we felt betrayed. And this is just a rudimentary way of looking at a more complex world while neglecting the real problem. It is the inner world of the bad storyteller that is the crux of the problem.
From the inner world of the bad storyteller, they like to ask us why, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
And I always respond the same, “Define good things and bad things.” And, “While you’re at it, define bad people and good people.” And, “While you’re at it, shut the hell up.”
Something you posited as being good happened to someone you judged as being bad and you’re all bent out of shape about it. So, you defined the person. You created the thing. And you developed the outcome. This has nothing to do with anyone else. And it is not a reflection of the real world. You are just being a bad storyteller.
You have reduced the story world to good people and bad people and then decided that everything else is random. When it’s the characters that are grey but their actions that are black and white. Their motivations are nuanced but the consequences are black and white. And you’ve just thrown all of that away to have your anti-hero extinguish his cigar on another man’s face because it sounded like a cool thing for him to do.
It’s because the stories that you grew up on were shit. They didn’t tell you everything. They left out morality in exchange for a dark ending. They weren’t tales about real people, they were tales about bad ideas and the deluded belief that crime pays. That ambition creates its own consequence. And that happiness is something you can trade.
But the truth of the matter has always been that everything exists in harmony with its outcome. That the present and the future are the same moment. Including bad actions.
Greed is a strong desire for what you don’t have but it is accompanied by a fear of losing the things that you do have.
Lust is an overblown desire for human sexual contact but it leads to dehumanization. Destroying the very thing that it desires.
Wrath is a response to pain but pain is the solution, the outcome and the product of wrath. Wrath creates more pain which creates more wrath which creates more. It’s like stomping your foot because you stubbed your toe.
Gluttony is a waste of resources to an excess but it leads to poverty and to having nothing, because, you know, you wasted it.
Sloth, on the other hand, is a total waste of time so what it leads to is the complete absence of time. We call that death.
Pride is an overconfidence in ones abilities. An overconfidence that leads to the failure of those same abilities.
And… Envy, the granddaddy of the bad storyteller, the belief that someone else has cheated or lied or stolen their way to having happiness. Well, it leads to never being satisfied with what you have no matter what you get. Like getting everything you want but never being happy with it.
That’s screwed up right?
I’m not making this stuff up. It is a constant. It is true. every. single. time. So why do we abandon the truth? Because it’s become boring. It’s now a cliché for you to tell an honest story with an honest outcome. But I still strongly believe that it is a necessity. It is necessary to have what we used to call a moral to your story otherwise it’s just a lie..
I still believe that storytellers are the molders of reality. That they are the makers of fashion. The creators of myth and the new religion. So spread the words:
I still believe.
I still believe that a story can be dark without being morally bankrupt. Can still be original without pretending it’s the only story that’s every been told.
I still believe.
I still believe in the difference between Ayn Rand and George Orwell.
Between Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury.
Orson Scott Card and Arthur C. Clarke
L. Ron Hubbard
and Philip K. Dick.
I still believe.
I still believe in morality. I still believe in the beauty of words and ideas. And in the boundless creativity of unrestrained self-awareness.
So sure, your big bad anti-hero can pull off the heist. Make the killing. Cheating, lying, stealing and torturing their way to your story’s end. But if you leave out the consequence, continually omit the well-earned punishment for their evil actions, were they characters in the real world, it’s not only bad writing, its neglectful. It’s inhumane. It’s insulting.
For the world is full of stories. Some for real. Some for fantasy. Some are fiction. Some are fictionalized. And so-called non-fiction. And every time you finish a story, close a screenplay or a book with those big black beautiful bold words; THE END at the bottom of a page, you add to the outside world of stories from your inner world. You create life and affect lives. As the wheel turns, showing life imitates art imitates life imitates art imitates life imitates art, ad infinitum.
So won’t you please stop giving us false tales of false people with false emotions because it warps the wheel. And because you are a Storyteller (with a capital s). You provide an emotional experience to people without them having to have lived that experience. You give us an emotional cushion without the emotional scars. And that’s amazing.
So stop lying.
This is your story. You’re the storyteller. But you do not have to be a BAD storyteller.
The truth is… The truth has always been… you can be better.
Thanks for listening.