Why your writing is or should be like a penguin

or an oreo.

A wonderful friend sent me this on Monday and it made my entire day and really started me thinking about the duality in people and how that duality comes into play in writing.

I adore dualities, particularly the pretty and the ugly, the good and the bad, what’s right, and what’s wrong. I think that being able to play with these contrasting ideas is something that makes writing so fascinating and engrossing.
The best works of writing can walk the line between contrasting ideas and it’s something that a work needs as it builds a conflict. Perhaps it’s a character who does something horrible but the reader will still like him/her. Perhaps the city is always so loud and quiet all at once, maybe there’s a healer who is capable of both great horror and great joy, perhaps there is a moment of beauty that also brings incredible sadness.
Very little interest can be developed if a part of the story, poem, character, etc. It has you create depth and complexity. Life is rarely if ever entirely black or white, most of us exist either as a penguin (pictured above) or as a grey blob (not pictured cause blobs are uggy).
That duality is what makes life exciting and it is something that must be present in writing to make it compelling. What do you think of dualities in writing and life? Do you agree that it has to exist in a work to make it compeling?  If not, what does need to be there?


  1. randallweiss Said:

    Interesting thoughts.

  2. Laura Said:

    My professor told us that there’s only a few ways to be good, but infinite and interesting ways to be bad, along with degrees of badness (cheating on a test vs. murder). So if you’ve got a character or situation that’s mostly good, giving it an interesting flaw (or two 😉 ) can add interest and make them more like a real person. Good also gets really interesting when you throw it into a mess of bad, if that makes sense. Does it stay good? Or turn to the dark side of the penguin?! 😉

    • Judy Black Said:

      True true, flaws make the world interesting I think. Embrace the dark penguin!

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