The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Lazy

There’s nothing quite as lazy as criticising a writer for being lazy. I mean, I’m sure many writers are lazy. Working from home, you put in as a few hours as you like, you get up when you want, you can type horizontally upon a cushion. But when I read reviews that accuse the writer of laziness... that’s just such lazy. Such lazy journalism, if the person is a journalist. Glib, facile, knee-jerk. It’s almost – almost but not quite – as irritating as people condemning a show for having ‘canned laughter’ when it has a studio audience laughter track. But I shall explode about that later; I can feel it building.

Thing is, the stuff that falls under the umbrella of ‘lazy’ tends to be one of two things. Writers rarely get accused of laziness for writing functional dialogue. They don’t get accused of laziness for writing purple, flowery dialogue, because clearly effort has been taken, polishing the words for that lilac hue.

No, ‘laziness’ is demonstrated either in a) the apparent existence of a plot hole or b) a predictable joke.

a) first. You know that plot hole you so cleverly spotted? The writer spotted it months ago. They agonised about it, found a credible solution to it, but after hours of weighing up alternatives, decided not to include it. Whether they were right or wrong is immaterial; point is, they weren’t lazy.

Regarding b). People laugh at predictable jokes. Predictable jokes – even a guy slipping on a banana skin – can be funny even if you spot them a mile off. The biggest laughs tend to be from big, obvious things – chandeliers falling, silly dances, public nudity. There’s nothing intrinsically lazy about trying to write big jokes; as in writing songs, ‘simple’ can be hardest thing to get right.

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