The Value of “Nice”

I love reading about small kindnesses. Grand gestures can have a profound impact on a reader, but I hold a deep soft spot for the little touches, the small moments of shared humanity.

Even in dark plots and darker events, moments where I can see characters do well by one another pull me more fully and happily into the story.

In my own life, it is not always the grand gestures that I remember, but the small moments where someone gave me a meal or helped me with a heavy load or explained something that confused me.

I treasure these moments in my own memories and whenever I see something like this in the story, it creates a moment of empathetic remembrance in my head.

I love writers who recognize the importance of small kindnesses and the profound or not-profound impact they can have on characters.

There is no need to dwell on these moments, and indeed they are often more powerful as a passing event.

Surely if we can fantasize about dragons and time travel and worlds without shrimp we can imagine more worlds where there are people who can gift a moment of unthinking kindness?

I enjoy stories where characters treat one another with respect, even if one of the characters comes across as foolish or silly.

While I enjoy sarcasm and witty comebacks, there is something profoundly refreshing about seeing people talk to one another as if they care about one another’s thoughts and feelings.

I do not think that fiction always needs to be a perfect model of the world we live in, although I think that fiction is tremendously valuable as a sideways mirror to our own lives and values.

However, when I escape into a world of mystery or fantasy or far-flung planets, sometimes I like to hope that the good has followed as well as the bad.

IMG_1113The strength of writing is in the blending of the imperfect and the sublime

I have a great weakness for fundamental decency. I am always looking for more stories that involve fundamentally decent characters.


I play around with kindness and its expectations and problems in my own writing. If you’d like to see those ideas, my fantasy novel,  The Guests of Honor, is available here.

 

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3 thoughts on “The Value of “Nice”

  1. Personally this has been a difficult year with one drama followed by another. What has surprised me has been who showed empathy and offered help, it wasn’t who I thought it would be. If this could translate into writing it would add the unexpected yet realism that many pieces of writing lacks.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been having difficulties. You have been a bright light in my own dark year this year.

      I am always profoundly grateful in my own life for the people who have been kind to me at the moments I needed it the most. Often they weren’t even aware of my own difficulties, but were just fundamentally decent people.

      This recognition of compassion and decency, often in people you wouldn’t necessarily expect, is something that I wish would show up more often in stories. It’s the kind of realism that I want to re-read again and again.

      • Sorry for your difficult year as well. We can welcome 2015 with open arms. I have been giving thanks every morning for the good things in my life and there are many. So next year i will focus on helping my friends like best selling author Cat Amesbury 🙂 🙂

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