a blog? I thought he was supposed to leave me wanting more?
How To Improve Your Comedy Writing
While I am in no place to date anyone right now, I am always looking for new life experiences, and what a better way to mine for those new experiences than online dating?
It's easy, convenient, and the only thing less sad than being the lone 43-year-old bald guy at a singles bar in clothes that may or may not have been purchased while 'Friends' was still hot.
1.) This post is COMPLETELY superficial. I debated writing it with such a bent, but let's face it: women are just as looks-oriented when it comes to this stuff as men, so please check your 'it's what's inside that counts' BS at the door;
2.) I live in San Antonio, TX, a city of champions: we make 'Fattest Cities In America' lists more than the Spurs make the playoffs; and
3.) While I have met some people on these sites, nothing has developed outside of chatting. I've made a few girls 'LOL' and 'ROTFL', but that's about it. I won't mention them by name - I choose to protect those with questionable taste.
On with the show...
I. YOUR PROFILE PIC IS EVERYTHING
Whoever said 'looks don't matter' is more full of sh*t than a port-o-potty at a refried bean festival.
Looks are ALL that matter, at least in the world of online dating, and your success in this world relies damn near entirely on your profile pic. Why?
Because that's the first (and, often, last) picture people see when perusing the site, and the ONLY picture they see when the platform tells them 'someone from Texas viewed you.' While some platforms offer the paid option to view members without them knowing you're a stalk.., er, 'viewer of their profile,' most people in this world are cheap and go with all the free options they can. Thus, within a minute or two of you looking at someone, they can see you looked at them and see just what the Hell you look like, because alongside that notification is said profile pic.
Zoosk has some pretty good advice on how to make your profile pic work to your advantage, but only as much as your busted ass mug will allow - you can take all the face-forward shots you want, but if you look like a regular at Mos Eisley... I hope you just sold your software company.
With the rare exception of a few that have apparently slipped through the algorithms of artificial unintelligence, I have very limited knowledge of what men put in their profile pics (other than cats). Thus, I will focus on the female profile pics and what seems to work (and woefully not work).
WORK: A GENUINE SMILE
A real smile, like you're genuinely happy and at peace. Seems simple enough right? NOPE.
ou know why? Because most women dating online in my age-bracket are not at peace. They seem aware that some ship has sailed, and that the man of their dreams either can't exist or did exist... but they dumped him because he wasn't exciting enough. Now they're seeing the skin around their elbows folding over, and they realize 'Oh, shit! I'd better hop online before I die alone!"
NOT WORK: EVERY OTHER SMILE
Sadly, the smile you'll see most often is that one at an angle, where she's got her chin turned toward her shoulder, her eyebrows are up, and she's got more makeup than John Wayne Gacy.
It's either that smile, or the one where they're smiling TOO hard. Maybe not fake, but like, 'Check out THESE fuggin' teeth!'
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down there, killer!
Also: why does every girl take her selfie in the car?
Dude, if aliens landed and started looking at most dating profiles, they'd think single women lived in cars. And this is San Antonio, where fertility gets doled out in surplus: don't be surprised if you see child seats in the back or even the GD child itself in the picture.
WORK: THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE
Let us (or whomever you're hoping to find) SEE you. It doesn't have to be a body shot or anything, but show us who you are through your eyes.
NOT WORK: THE WRONG PERSPECTIVE
Pumpkins are good for pies and catapults, not profile pics. Men want to see your face IN the picture, not AS the picture so move back from the lens a little.
Extend the arm, get a selfie stick... just leave SOME room on the edges so we can get a perspective on your dimensions. Men are all over the map when it comes to which facial features are attractive, but we are unified in wanting to see your face before we take the plunge into the world of rejection and possible pregnancy scares.
Remember, honest smile and evident facial dimensions: good. Psycho teeth and visible blackheads: bad.
LEST I FORGET TO MENTION THESE TWO PROFILE PIC TIPS:
You have GOT to take the picture head on. Not that angle where you hold the camera up to one side and your head's in one corner and your feet are in the lower, opposite corner.
We're stubborn, but we're not idiots: all that angle does is tell us you're hiding something. You may think you're looking sassy, but we're suspicious you're hiding 'frutt (front butt)'.
And speaking of 'sassy,' drop the GD Snap filters. Holy Hell: no man who can change a flat or fight for your honor thinks dog ears or whiskers is cute or attractive.
II. THE 'OUT HAVING FUN' PICS
The ones who get this right are the ones who travel. They're always in front of some monument or easily identifiable structure with their arms out, really seeming to embrace life.
That's attractive. Financially daunting, but attractive.
Flipside: those who post pics of them out at a bar with 'friends.'
You may recall I said men are stubborn but not stupid? Yeah, well we know that guy you've got your arm around banged you, if not within an hour after that picture was taken, then at some point around there.
'But I'm not a whore!' We know that, and will give you the benefit of the doubt time and again. But even though we may be completely wrong about that, it takes the focus off of you. We want to see more of YOU, not your 'friend' or 'coworker.' You.
Another problem I've seen with this picture is the abysmal editing: the off-center cropping, the hazy over-zoom... The only thing worse than having the pic with the guy in it is the pic where we THINK a guy is in it.
Again: it takes our attention off you. Somehow, even though you're the only one in the picture and taking up the entire frame, all we can wonder while looking at this picture is, 'She's totally with some dude. I wonder if I could take him.'
The last risk of the 'out having fun' photo: YOUR FRIENDS ARE HOTTER THAN YOU.
Comedian Steve Byrne puts it best (I'm paraphrasing):
"You will never see a bunch of guys trying to get backstage at a Britney Spears concert. 'There's a perfectly good looking girl selling tee-shirts right over there. I'll just go talk to her.' "
(Steve, if you Google Alert yourself and found this blog: big fan, man. Thanks for all the laughs.)
It's astonishing how quickly men's interests will shift from one girl to another. In the real world, we have quick fantasies, but they're harmless: yeah, the other girl may be hot, but most of us prefer the girl we're with.
Perusing an online dating profile is another thing entirely. We've got very little time invested in you, so jumping from one ship to another happens at the bat of an eyelash.
It's the same phenomenon behind our various online impulses: look at my YouTube history and you'll see I've watched a bazillion jiu-jitsu videos up to about the 35-second mark, and about four to completion.
(You can label it ADHD or whatever you want, but facts are facts, and I'm here to help.)
III. THE MIRROR PIC
Egads, the mirror pic.
How many thousands of them are there online where the girl is attractive and open and honest and... in front of a bed that's COVERED in all her sh*t?
Clothes, shoes, shelving... You moving? You cleaning out your closet? You even have a closet? Tidy up the place! It's hard to appreciate you in any capacity when right behind you is a clump of clothes still on hangers and a ruffled comforter that may or may not be hiding last night's drunken romp.
And that's only the bedroom mirror pic. The bathroom mirror pic is downright ridiculous.
"Just here, getting ready for a night out! Lulz"
"Cool! Hey, nice NuvaRing box. That an empty Valtrex bottle I see there? Well, at least you've learned your lesson."
And the ultimate San Antonio mirror selfie: THE ONE WITH THE KIDS TOYS IN THE BACKGROUND.
Good-goddamn-grief, man: leaving big plastic toys out and in your picture makes us think you've either got little ones at the house we don't want to damage, or that you actually play with those things, and in no way have as much fun with them as we would.
You may think sitting in that mini F150 is fun, but until you pedal it off a roof and into a pool, you're doing it a disservice...
I just realized, this post is a little long. I was hoping to cover more, but that'll be in the next one.
Hope you've enjoyed it, happy dating, and watch your a*s out there!
drummers vs. 'Musicians'
I love drums.
Drums are just the best, man. Whether it's Armin van Buuren mixing them at 120bpm or Rony Barrak banging on a derbeke until his fingers turn to pate, I'm a homer when it comes to the beat-keepers.
And the drummers? Hell yeah. Gimme a drummer over a guitar player or singer any day. ANY. DAY. The drummer's the one who always has the scoop on the rest of the band: why the bassist is so depressed, why lead guitar has a sleeper band on the side, and how the frontman loses sleep every night knowing that unless it's their name on the marquee, they can be replaced by any 16-year-old kid with a decent set of pipes at a moment's notice.
Bonus: drummers have the best arms.
Then you have the guitarists. Bassists seem alright, but those six-stringers... suck. Sorry, man. I know that's not a popular opinion, given they always get the long solos and a hot chick in their arms, but guitarists seem to be douchebags by nature. Like it comes with the talent package. "I just CRUSHED this barre chord, Bruh! Now I need me a girl I can smack around."
Look, if you play the guitar, good for you. That's awesome. It's an insanely detailed skill that takes years to master, and learning it is something you should be proud of.
But stop busting that thing out and playing when nobody asked, okay? It's uncomfortable. I went to a Lutheran school filled with really good people... some of whom would whip out their guitar on a moment's notice and just start strumming for The Lord.
It wasn't the irony that killed me (Jesus' own words were to worship in private), but the desperate cry for attention. "Look at me! I can play the guitar! Let's worship together! I'm in Billings 318, and my girlfriend is gone this weekend!"
Then you have the singers. Dear God, the singers. Those f*ckers that just start belting out a tune when no one gives a shit. Ugh.
You know them. You're doing some work at a coffeeshop, and some man-bitch starts howling a Pop40 tune like he's performing at Creamfields. And nobody can do a damn thing about it because you're not supposed to say anything in this world, and that selfish prick will immediately hide behind the "victim" tag if you ask him to keep it down.
Just how much G*DDAMN attention do you need to draw to yourself? Jesus, man. Shut up already.
"Well, you go onstage to tell your jokes. Don't tell me you don't like attention."
That's different. First of all, I never announce to strangers I do comedy. You'll never hear me in a deli line doing material - "What's up with delis and lines, amirite?" And if you ever see me on stage, you'll see I pretty much want off as soon as possible, but I have a job to do. Cover charges have been paid and (inflated) two drink minimums have been met - I don't make people laugh, they get robbed. It's immoral.
I'm all for self-expression, but look at the rest of the world like it's a job interview, because in reality, it is. Everywhere you go, new people are determining your worth in their lives - either as a trustworthy bystander or as someone who they want more deeply involved. When you're putting in packets of sugar at Starbucks and voice checking into the ether while I'm trying to churn out a writing project, you're basically telling me your life is more important than mine.
I get that it may be, but most of the other people within earshot don't.
Drummers never do this sh*t. Drummers may tap their pencils against the table for a second, but worse- (worst?) case scenario, they grab a couple of paint buckets and trash cans and take it outside. Yes, people gather, but no crowd has ever watched a drummer improv a set and hated it.
Meanwhile, Mr. Acoustic Cracky Acapella gets eye rolls and head shakes nearly every time, but puts that on his unwitting audience and not on himself. I say "him" because it seems like it's always guys who do it. Girls seem to understand they already garner enough attention wherever they go anyway, and singing would be a little too much.
It's not a feather display for a mate, it's idiocy. You can sing aloud in public places to your heart's content, but just know that unless they've asked you to, all the people around you hate you. And that bartender you're pining for? She has her eye on the guy with the veiny arms on the kick drums.
And on that note, long live Cowboy Mouth.
thoughts on happiness
I've been blessed my whole life, to say the least.
I've always had food to eat, a roof over my head, and (albeit non-stylish) clothes on my back. I've always had good mental health, a dog, and a motor that gets me up when most people are still in the ring with the Sandman.
That said, my good friend died in Fourth Grade from cancer, I watched Alzheimer's eat my mom's brain away, and with that motor I just talked about comes the burden of feeling that the weight of the world is on my shoulders. My wife of 10 years demanded a divorce, I had a business "deal" involving my old employer go sideways, and I get the joy of dropping off my three kids every other week to a woman who was "just not happy."
And that's what made me decide to write my thoughts on happiness.
First off, I know I'm just some two-bit chump you stumbled upon thanks to a random Google search, and I get that. You may read this and say, 'Whatever, dude. Power through (INSERT GENUINE ATROCITY HERE), and then come talk to me about happiness."
But if you are genuinely trying to get better, more optimistic, and happier in your life, and you are willing to listen to a complete turtle-chinned stranger's thoughts on how to do it, these two cents might even be worth three.
It all starts with this: NO ONE OWES IT TO YOU.
If you're looking outside yourself for happiness, I wish you all the luck in the world on your voyage, Senor Quixote. When I say no one owes it to you, I don't mean to say that everyone's a selfish prick with only their own interests in mind. Quite the contrary; several examples of extraordinary charity and selflessness are everywhere around you.
Just go to your nearest fire or police station and you'll meet the brave men and women who will throw down their life for you in exchange for $50K a year and only pretty good benefits.
When I say no one owes it to you, what I mean is nobody has time for everybody. Hell, even Ghandi had to relax from time to time! Even the strongest and most charitable of human beings has to take time every day to take care of themselves; to eat, drink, and recharge their batteries. If you are waiting on them to make you happy... what are you going to do while they're taking care of their own necessities? Wait outside in their bushes? That won't work!
Also: happiness is NOT a static state. Not by any stretch. If both the Rock and Brad Pitt have to fight depression from time to time; what chance of evading tragedy and misfortune do we mere mortals have?
Happiness comes and goes, much like my affinity for Taco Bell (a relationship I admit, is inversely proportional). It comes in fleeting, everyday moments you must train yourself to catch in order to realize an overall happier life.
It's not optimism, which is indeed a more permanent life perspective. No, happiness leads to optimism: the better you can identify and receive happiness, the more and more optimistic you will be in your life forecasting.
It's hard to stay negative knowing later the sun will turn the sky a fiery pink, your kid will run up to you and give you a hug, or you'll find out they're running a Mel Brooks marathon on Starz.
Here's what else I've noticed: learning how to be happy means doing things that are the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you would think you need to do. Happiness - true happiness - is another way of saying 'reward,' and you can't have a reward without first assuming a sacrifice. I'd even venture to say a life filled with rewards and no sacrifice leads directly to depression.
If you eat Wah Kee's General Tso Chicken every day, it eventually becomes plain chicken nuggets with a piece of broccoli.
But - even more strangely - that sacrifice you take on must be one you voluntarily assume; an involuntary sacrifice is just a tragedy, and good luck thinking you're prepared for tragedy if you can't first arm yourself with happiness.
If you play sports, you know what I"m talking about: do what the coach demands, and you'll be part of the status quo. Be the player who gets there first, does extra reps, and then shuts the lights off at the end of the day, and you'll be exceptional.
But being exceptional means you first have to sacrifice everything else: sleep, beers with friends, vacations and parties in the middle of the season... the list goes on and on.
The best example is children. What gives a person (with their head screwed on straight) more joy than their children? Watching them play, hearing their laughter, and seeing them keep chivalry alive is rewarding on an extraordinary level... but they make you lose sleep, cost insane amounts of money, and argue over the dumbest fu*king things you can imagine.
I DON'T CARE WHO HIT WHO FIRST. NOW PICK UP THAT TOOTH.
So put happiness on yourself by taking sacrifice head on and absorbing whatever happiness you feel as it comes. I mean truly absorbing it; literally stopping what you're doing when the moment hits, and fully realizing the event giving you purpose as it's happening.
That is GRATITUDE, and if there's one sure way to happiness, it's that: being thankful for what you have.
Like I said earlier, life for me hasn't been all peachy, but AT LEAST I'm not that guy who sleeps at the bus stop on a couple of beer cans eating cigarette butts. And at least he's not the guy who just received the news he's got six weeks to live, and at least HE'S not the guy suffering from a sex addiction and micropenis.
Gratitude keeps you grounded, for sure. Someone's always got it worse, and you can easily find / think of the one around you who has. (Which gets into a whole other thing: prayer.)
Being grateful takes just minimal effort, too: genuinely thanking someone for a service or act of kindness requires only locking eyes and smiling. What the Hell does that cost you? You have no excuse.
Gratitude begets perspective, and perspective begets gratitude.
So be thankful. Genuinely, truly thankful.
To recap: what are the five steps to happiness?
1.) It's your responsibility to be happy;
2.) Happiness is fleeting, and you must learn to catch it when it comes;
3.) Willingly take on sacrifice; and
4.) Be thankful.
The fifth step? Easy. Get a dog. Not a fish, not an iguana, not a cat.
Because they are genuinely happy to see you every time they see you. Having something (or, even better, someONE) who is honestly happy to have you around goes a long way in helping you achieve your own happiness. Dogs don't blame, they go on their own adventures and learn their own things, they'll fight for you to the death, and they WAG THEIR TAILS WHEN THEY SEE YOU.
You have anybody ever do that? Dedicate an entire body part just to saying 'Hi?' It's amazing!
I hope this wasn't too preachy, and I certainly don't mean to oversimplify or make light of your unique, genuine suffering. My dad always told me that everyone walks around with a bucket of manure hovering over their head. Sometimes the manure falls out a little at a time, and sometimes the bucket completely tips over.
If your bucket has tipped over, my sincerest of apologies, and I hope you have the resources in place to help you through that.
But most of us just get the little at a time, and should teach ourselves that the one piece will not tip the entire bucket over. If we do, when that bucket tips (and it always does), our life will lose meaning and we'll succumb to the dark side.
Thinking of you, Cindy Gomez and Barbara Muller Bowen. Hang in there...
It pains me to say this but, my oldest daughter is in Fourth Grade (FOURTH GRADE) and not a single kid in her class has seen - or even heard of - 'The Goonies.'
Think about that. You know what that means?
It means no kid in her class... KNOWS HOW TO BE A KID.
"'Adventure?' What's that? 'Adversity?' Wh... What do you mean? 'Developing friendships by keeping your word as you face a world full of back-stabbing, resentful adults who want to take your house and may (or may not) have a giant freak locked in their basement?' Why would I ever..?"
THE MOVIE STARTS WITH A CAR CHASE AND CURSE WORDS FROM A FAT KID WHO SMASHES HIS MILKSHAKE ON THE WINDOW. What more does a movie need???
The parents die in 'Frozen,' a kid's parents ban music from his house in 'Coco', and I just saw a movie about a rabbit who outsmarts a man competent enough to hold down a corporate gig for ten years.
What two things do these movies have in common? All smash hits and all dealing with DEATH.
Know what else they all have in common? No laughs. I'll admit: the rooster in 'Peter Rabbit' starts off pretty funny, but then you realize he's just a single dad who caves under the duties of responsible parenting, and it quickly devolves into you wondering if somewhere on the cutting room floor is the scene where he willingly takes a cyanide pill. It's DARK, man.
Let me ask you this: if a kid's mind is a sponge, why would you drop it in toilet water?
So what did I do to protest all this? I sat my kids (10, 7, and 5) down and made them watch 'Dumb and Dumber.'
If those other idiots in her class are that far behind in movies about being a kid ('You play ball like a XHE!'), think of how far ahead of the curve they'll be when it comes to making people laugh... if people are still allowed to laugh when my kids become adults.
Junger Is Better.
Just as my seven years of college don't translate into a Doctorate (barely even a Bachelor's), your lifetime of meeting with and engaging new people does not mean you can effortlessly articulate those experiences into words people would care to read.
You've got to hit your readers with new characters... they already know.
Let me explain:
In hopes of making my own writing better, I went on a psychology binge trying to find out WHY people do what they do and say what they say (in writing and acting terms, I was trying to figure out their motivations).
It was in this pursuit I came across Carl Jung.
Quick backstory, he was a cohort and friend of Sigmund Freud (Mr. Id-Ego-Superego) who parted ways with the guy because he thought Freud was too steeped in his own BS to see his theories had flaws in them. In the world of psychology, this was a breakup of Bert-and-Ernie proportions, and Jung went off to become the founding father of what is today known as analytical psychology. Freud... I don't know what he did after that. I think he just languished in his own sorrow and started playing with morphine, which is how most of us handle breakups, amirite?
Jung said all people have conscious and unconscious minds. Now, there are literally TONS of books written about what these things are, but for our purposes - to improve our characters and dialogue - we'll focus on the unconscious, particularly the part Jung called the 'COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS.'
Basically, the collective unconscious is a set of images (archetypes) shared by every human being since the dawn of time. A good example is the hero archetype: if you show the 'Harry Potter' movie to a Yanomamo tribesman, he'll identify Harry as the hero just as quickly and as easily as the lead scientist at the large hadron collider will.
Can that tribesman collide particles or complete a course in Differential Equations? No, but neither can the scientist grasp hunting monkeys as a protein source.
The point is, peoples' backgrounds and upbringings don't matter - the collective unconscious is something we ALL share (hence, 'collective').
"Okay, Nick. You're losing me. What the Hell does all this have to do with improving my writing?"
Glad you asked...
Jung broke the archetypes into three groups:
It is in understanding each of these three groups that your (our) writing will improve, so let's get down to it.
1.) The Shadow:
Of the three archetypes, the shadow is the easiest to understand, and thus, the easiest to incorporate into your character and their dialogue.
In real life, we all wear a mask called the persona. It is basically the guy that goes out with us when we leave our parent's basem... er, when we leave our "office" to go out and face the world. It is what we WANT people to think we are: compassionate, caring, kind... whatever.
However, sometimes we wear that mask so much, we begin to believe it. "Look at me NOT kicking this three-legged dog for fun! Man, I AM SO KIND!" Or, "I left an eighty-nine cent tip to the barista at Starbucks today! Sure, I could have kept it, but that'd be selfish..."
And that's where The Shadow comes in.
Just because you THINK you're wonderful, you're shadow reminds you that you're not. Using the examples above, the Shadow is what reminds you that you WANTED to kick that dog and that you WANTED to keep your change after buying that tall Pike Place (the worst coffee they serve, but all that's available after 2pm).
Oversimplifying things, The Shadow is everything that goes against your persona; that nagging voice that says "If they ever discovered the truth about me..."
It's your darkest secrets, your most deviant desires... and it's in all of us.
So develop your character's Shadow. Have him / her be confronted by it and study / embrace / repel it. If the protagonist is a supermodel, that fat kid inside them is always there; do a reveal where they're alone, in the dark, hammering away at a chocolate pie. Even better, have them crying while doing it. They can't stop - The Shadow's taken control.
2.) The Anima (an archetype):
Call this, 'The S-MOTHER-ING.' The projection that leads to it, anyway...
We all know boys love their mommies. Right from birth, the mother becomes the ideal woman, and the boy strives to please her in every way possible. (Yes, even THAT way.) She offers him complete protection and attention, so much so that a boy may never even become a man - why face the hardships and banality of the real world when your mother is willing to give you all you'll ever need?
And momma ain't no saint, either. She's busy trying to make the boy into the ideal man SHE wants and is hoping that when she completes this twisted project, the boy will stick around and never leave her side.
At any rate, time does what it does, and eventually the boy enters adulthood. He projects (psychologically throws) onto every girl he meets the personal image of his 'perfect' mother (this is making me VERY uncomfortable), and when she inevitably falls short, the man gets all wound up and irritated.
That woman ain't no chump, so she stands her ground and they get into an argument.
BUT: while he's projecting the image of his mother onto her, when he gets a rush of anima, he's no longer doing that. He's actually doing his impression of the ideal woman.
What a tool! (As I forcefully refuse to believe I ever do this.)
Here's where that can help your dialogue:
Every Hall has its Oates, so your male characters MUST have something that balances them (or tries to, anyway). By nature, men have a stronger logos than women, so they take pride in and strive for thoughts of reason and objectivity.
Well, that all comes crashing down when the woman they're arguing with starts going all 'animus' on him (see below). During a heated exchange, the man will revert to arguing for the sake of preserving his vanity - he wants to 'save face' and protect his fragile ego.
Now women get flooded with...
3.) The Animus:
Where the Anima is an injection of the female eros into a man, the Animus is the (sometimes lethal) injection of the logos into the woman during an argument.
Consisting of opinions that are completely independent of experience, the logos believes its opinions are ABSOLUTE TRUTHS and, thus, a woman flushed with animus fights for a position of power.
Why? Because she's doing the same thing he's doing, but instead of impersonating the ideal woman, she's acting out the archetype of ideal man.
So now you've got the man pretending to be the perfect woman and a woman pretending to be the perfect man. What the Hell?
In the end, the man is resentful and the woman is ready to break all ties with him. (Probably because she knows she can find another man and start a whole new life by the time he wipes his first tear, but Jung is Jung and I'm just me, so take that with a grain of salt.)
So keep that in mind when writing dialogue - the collision of the anima and animus. If it's comedy, have this deep, dark, collective fact come to life over something stupid, like him not picking up his socks:
"You're gonna leave your socks right there on the floor?"
"I'll get 'em later."
"But... why can't you just get them now?"
"Because I'm eating dinner."
"FUNIONS... are NOT DINNER, Gary."
"When you're trying to save money for a wedding, they are!"
"You honestly think I want to marry a guy with a weight problem who eats Funions with his socks on the floor?"
Etc. Etc. The argument repeated millions of times a day around the globe escalates into the nonsensical, and the pining guy has to go win the apathetic girl back again and again until they both die alone in separate homes, not even remembering each others' name. (Life sucks sometimes, man.)
1.) Have your characters explore their dark sides, either through exposition or dialogue. That dark side's in all of us (The Shadow), and it's all the urges we've had to repress that are demanding to be liberated and incorporated into our behavior.
Your character the vegan president of PETA? Have them hit a deer on the road and, while pulling over to render it aid, have them accidentally run over a squirrel that came out to see what was going on. Now your character's got to make the choice: help the deer or the squirrel. Even better: they now have to come to terms with the fact that they've actually been the one to hurt animals. Boom.
2.) Men fall in love with women who best personify or help them relive the love their mom gave them. When that inevitably goes to pot, they start mimicking the perfect female (they're flushed with the Anima).
Why? You got me!
Doesn't matter, though. Women seem to find love the exact same way, and when that image is shattered, they start pretending to be the perfect man (they're flushed with the Animus).
So you've got two characters playing their biological opposites in front of each other in a situation of blinding rage.
Why that is, I have no idea. But for the sake of writing better characters and dialogue, just know that IT IS.
Now that you know, go out and do.
I'm Nick. I've never been afraid of getting in over my head, and I've survived every resulting injury from doing so. Played college football in the SEC while running a 5.1 forty at 200lbs, got booed off stage in front of 1,000 people at a 'Latino Laff Nite (I'm not Latino),' rolled with BJJ Black Belts, and got TKO'd by a Golden Gloves boxing champion during a fundraiser for MDA. The closest I ever got to being a real man was when my mom cut me off on the way to the Marine Recruiter's office - in the parking lot.