Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Rowling Keeps Me Sane

It's really hard to portray love.  It's glaringly obvious when it's done terribly.  As someone trying to be an author, a published author, who's making love a prominent theme in his story, portraying such a bond is a daunting prospect.  I keep thinking about the stilted dialogue between Anakin and Padme from Episode III.  "You're so beautiful."  "It's only because I'm so in love." I died right there.

The love I'm trying to get across in the novel is not necessarily between a man and a woman.  It's between brothers, or between a man and his obsessions.  Even that kind of love is tricky and can seem forced, or cliche.  I'm especially wary of that last word.  Cliche.

Because love as a theme in any novel is cliche right?  Everyone loves, and somehow everyone is motivated by some kind of love.  Every character, I mean.  Think about The Road's main character, The Man.  He loved his son powerfully.  He wasn't going to let go of him.  So he walks in a postapocalyptic world amidst threats to his life on every side, human and non-human.  Or East of Eden's Trask Family.  Adam Trask was powered by a deeply delusional love for his wife.  This enabled the plot to move him towards the Salinas Valley, without which the novel's other themes would never come to light.  The word timshel would mean nothing without the crazy adoration of Adam Trask. 

Each instance was developed beautifully, but over the course of the novel.  We see The Man worrying and caring for his son each night by candlelight.  Adam Trask agonizes in the shadows of his home and his soul over the devil he married.  He does this for almost half the book!

I think the one thing that's saving my mind from going ballistic over this love crap is the Harry Potter series.  Say what you will of the writing - she uses "he said" and "she said" multiple times in one paragraph!!!  HOW?! - but the woman is a brilliant storyteller, no doubt.  And love is THE central concept of the entire series.  None of Harry's story would exist without love.  And she developed that over a slow, slow burn of seven books that nigh everyone loved.  Except some New York critic looking to make a splash by being the one dark soul hell-bent on nitpicking. 

Looking at her, I find a ton of inspiration.  A few months back, I was convinced by my mother that writing to her would be a good idea.  So I wrote a really neurotic letter with bad jokes, sent it, and got a reply only a couple of weeks later.  No, she didn't read it.  But her assistant did, and she was so incredibly nice.  I'm glad my inspiration didn't turn out to be a bitch.  This non-bitchiness only reaffirmed my belief that if I just stick to what I've got going in my head, I'll turn out alright. 

So, here's a question to you, whoever reads this.  What love scene has inspired you?  Or made you think, "That's so true!"  It can be from a movie or a novel, so long as it's a love scene that has inspired you, left you with your heart aflutter and your mind racing down memory lane.  You can leave any comments below.  Until next time then.


  1. Anonymous8:49 AM

    For an inspiring scene, I'm going to go with the dance sequence from (500) Days of Summer. Sure, it's his jubilation about having sex with Summer, so not quite as romantic as you might want. However, when you're in love, that pure moment of triumph at having someone love you in return just makes you want to dance. I think the trick here is to be able to convey emotions in a believably natural way. What would your characters say or do in these situations? How would they respond? Would they dance outwardly/inwardly? Would they become so utterly conflicted that they devolve into inarticulate messes?

    Ultimately, I think you need to consider what would be appropriate for your characters. The expression of love is who we are as individuals. Look at your Anakin/Padme example. Those lines might seem romantic on paper(though really George Lucas, really?), but it's not how those characters would really act.

  2. This is going to sound SO incredibly nerdy and I know everyone has their issues with this movie... but it's Avatar. There's two scenes in this movie that show this natural, gradual progression of love that actually ISN'T the main focus of the story (and love normally is). The first is the scene where the female Na'vi is teaching the Avatar guy how to shoot with a bow and arrow. Their faces are really close and he give her the 'I want to kiss you' look. They captured that moment--I can't explain it, but I'm sure you know what I mean--where you're so close to someone and crushing really bad and you just want to kiss them. The other is when they're at the tree of soul and the girl's all, "Oh and you get to pick a mate" and she's like goading him into confessing his feelings... it was also very real. The former brought back good memories, that's for sure.

    I got to say, it's mostly music that sets my heart aflutter; I'm a girl who listens to particular lyrics and those are often the ones that get to me (though that's not unusual).

    But a literary example: A Child Called It. The love that child had for life, for his mother despite what she did to him...ah, made me ball like a baby. I was crying so hard--and barely even noticed it--that my mom actually had to take that book from me. Then there was this other book about this ballet dancer who got some terminal cancer...she loves dancing until the very end and she's such a likable character...seeing her die was one of the worst things I've ever read.

    To be honest, I can't think of a lot of examples where a love in a book didn't come off as...fake or overly dramatic or something of the like (*coughtwilightcough*... guess you'll have to change my mind, ha ha.