Sunday, October 30, 2016
Why would ripping a song apart help our writing? Most songs don’t have time for much of an arc, if any. They do have time for pathos or an emotion we can identify with. Better songs have a clear meaning as veneer, with undercurrents to satisfy the most intellectual listener. A writer of prose can accomplish this through showing mixed with dialogue and a pinch of dissonance.
There are many great examples of songs that just get to the listeners at a gut level, and they hardly know why. They just know they love the song. One such song, poorly named, Sukiyaki, was a huge hit long ago. It’s lyrics and lyrical quality are matched by the vocalist’s efforts. “Let’s look up as we walk, so that the tears don’t spill.”
Justin Timberlake’s, Can’t Stop the Feeling is more complex but just as elemental. In the song, he sings that his dance partner knows what he’s going through because she is feeling it too. Yet he is not 100% certain she understands what is happening to them so he asks her to break it down. It need not be a dance or a trip to the supermarket. It's everyman anywhere. They’re in love, they know it and they can’t stop their feelings. Why would they want to? Well, herein lies the intrigue. Is it a case of forbidden love? Or is their love too soon for a commitment? Or is it just human nature? We the listener decide how to interpret it. One thing many know of this hit. They can’t stop loving this song. The same applies to our writing, right?
Layer your writing. If you think Justin doesn't realize he's going deep, it's possible. He may be an unconscious competent. That's creative talent, well practiced.
Justin Timberlake, Can't Stop the Feeling, 2016
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Before you run for the hills, as I know some of you are not reality TV fans, listen up. ABC Family, now called, Freeform is offering Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? on Tuesday night at 8PM.
I cannot recommend this, so obviously scripted, show to anyone who wants to check out reality TV offerings, unless you’re a diehard The Bachelor or The Bachelorette fan. Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell are so obviously in love, are so gorgeous a couple and have sdo much to offer each other, that I’ll eat my hat if any of the worries the show’s producers try to throw our way work out to be remotely “real.” If you are struggling for a definition of love or how a young couple should act, these two are the real deal.
Aside from watching fake drama, and knowing it, I can’t not watch. I never watch happily ever after the after shows or read such books, not just because they are labeled Chick Flicks or women’s fiction. As an example, on Hallmark last night, the Good Witch premiered its latest in the series. My wife and I agreed, it dragged. The plot was all too familiar, the romantic arc for the witch revolved around one line of dialogue at the end of the show, “I thought of you, last night.”
Okay, this will be my first bad review. I’m sure the show was fun for those steeped in the Witch’s lore. Call me a sap, but I like plots that revolve around happily ever afters (and many men do).
Lauren and Ben, well, you are my guilty pleasure.
Lauren and Ben, well, you are my guilty pleasure.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
I’m not going to dig deeply into religious faith, but to say, for most of us, faith is stronger or weaker at any given moment and for some nonexistent.
When our heroine and hero have faith in each other’s love, it is a beautiful thing. If only one has this faith, then it is misplaced or delusional. Most of us have insecurities that prevent us from ever being absolutely sure we are loved, like we love back. Isn’t it healthy to harbor a bit of skepticism? The return for allowing yourself to fall head over heels in love in the knowledge that your hero/heroine feels the same, is a deep sense of achievement and commitment. We are not meant to be alone so why think that way? Some say complete faith in the other is a sign of fanaticism/zealotry. Some portray a lack of complete faith by showing signs of jealousy, fear and pushing away.
It’s sometimes the arc and how the writer uses it to show growth or it can simply be a character trait. It could be that the hero or heroine sees faith in the other’s love as a mystical connection, making them greater than 1+1=2. They’ll believe in soul mates for the same reason. But, you don’t need these crutches. Yes, human beings thrive on fear. It is what keeps us alive. But don’t we aspire to more than survival? Can’t we touch the eternal truths? God blessed you if you (your character) have a love like this. If you write this type of character, your book might not be labeled inspirational, but it is damn close.
Some forms of love last forever.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
In the past, we have discussed logic and emotion as they pertain to making decisions and reached the conclusion that they balanced. NPR has recently broadcast, and various scientific communities have published, stating that emotion trumps logic. Humans are social, they contract with each other socially. They tend not to listen to a third person trying to correct something based on logic.
And when emotion is amped up, how will it affect your protagonists? Let’s take the case of exercise or sports (and there many more positive emotional situations). If the hero and heroine are finishing off a tennis match, dancing or walking out of an aerobics class, they are because of endorphins, more social, more bonded to each other. Whatever attraction there was is greater in these situations. If you write this type of scene, you may want to explore what happens to the wannabe or actual couple when they are down off their endorphin highs. How they progress, where does logic help them make decisions to move forward?
It is useful to note that heightened endorphin situations lead to sex and declarations of love. It’s hardly anything you need explain, but may want to, because not everybody gets it. I have to stop writing now, so I won’t be late for Zumba.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Rich and Columbia were lovers. They were engaged. Rich started exhibiting strange behaviors or red flags. Columbia thought he had put his prejudices behind him. I know, romances don’t usually start after a promise to marry, so let’s call this one a possible tragedy.
The trouble started when Rich complained about Columbia, a gorgeous Hispanic woman, gaining a bit of weight. He professed his love for her was based on her wit, smarts, heart, and yes, her looks. But she still looked very good. She felt ashamed and tried to live up to his wishes and was winning the battle, in spite of being influenced now by a negative image of herself.
Rich’s pat phrase when pressed scared her, “He/she/they deserve it.” Columbia, a judge, heard this in court all the time when a physical or mental abuser would try to defend himself. She wondered how she could have missed the obvious signs that first showed as simple, driven to succeed, banter. She knew there was a fine line between success at work and ignoring ethical standards. She had at times struggled herself with knotty issues. But her faith and common sense always brought her back to the golden rule. He even suggested she couldn’t be fair because of her heritage. He Apologized,, but she was rapidly becoming completely disenchanted.
Then he started to complain about minorities of all types in an unending stream of insults. Talk about fatal flaws. Can Rich reform and really love Columbia, would anybody care at this point? Yes, Rich had many friends. They still cared, thought he could be saved. Wished him well. Will he change? Will he love her? You decide.