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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doing It the Hard Way

There are more than one way to skin a cat (who invented this phrase?). Most people would choose the path of least resistance --- Not that there's anything wrong with it, nor am I in any position to criticize anyone for it, as I am the queen of shortcuts. Still, I sometimes admire people who intentionally, voluntarily choose to do things the hard way. No, they are not masochists. They are truly good at what they do and have confidence in their abilities. The easy ways do not interest them much. That's why they choose to do things the hard way.

I thought of this after seeing the movie "Argo." The extreme difficulty --- or at least one of them --- lies in the tone. It could have easily turned into exploitation, or jingoistic propaganda, or sensationalism. Affleck handed it deftly, except a bit of an action overkill near the end. The movie was not a complete and total success, but I very much admire his nerves to do such a difficult project.

Another recent example that I can think of is "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. Every mystery writer knows it is nearly impossible to write suspense from the point of view of the murderer/criminal/culprit/whatever. Either you give away too much early on, or you make the reader feel like you're hiding too much from them, and the reader does not like that. Yet ... yet! Flynn made it work, and so well. As the reader, I was deceived, and deceived again, and again, but I did not mind and could not stop. I'm completely in awe.

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