this movie for a while now, and had the chance to do so this weekend via iTunes. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I want to do a full post on it, but for today, it fuels the next post in my character development Workshop Wednesday lineup.
For me, character development is the most important component of fiction. That's what elevates a novel from a story to a slice of truth. Character development is emotional; romance is emotional, the very definition of the word an emphasis on the emotional connection as superior to the physical. The physical is important too, but it's the emotional that enables characters (and readers) to connect to one another; the emotional and the physical feed off one another. The challenge for any writer is to create a romance that is grounded in a plane beyond the purely physical. The writer has to establish a deep, many-leveled connection between the characters, hitting all the notes that make it feel real: accepting, charming, nurturing, chastising, when necessary. All the visceral heat in the world can be overshadowed by a plasticized, disconnected state in which the characters don't know one another at all, and that final "I love you" of the novel feels like some forced note that needed to be hit in order to squeeze into some framework.
What I so enjoy about Only Lovers Left Alive is the string of small moments that highlight personality and compatibility. The true chemistry and intimacy. The subtle, ordinary moments, the ones that in our real lives have such impact, and have to be brought into love stories to in fact make them love stories.
There's countless ways to write a love story; so many framings and situations and possibilities. And to each artist, different models appeal. This is my terribly humble list of things to think about when writing romance, and they are just personal, not professional:
-- Nothing about modern dating rituals is romantic. All that "I just can't be tied down, bro. I'm too awesome." Not cute. Today's world of checklist dating is anything but romantic, tabulating compatibility through lists. Ugh. Can't stand it. There's no room for wonder or infatuation anymore. That's something I seek to correct through writing, not perpetuate.
-- Jane Austen believed that the best romances were accentuated by strong friendships between the two parties. I agree with this personally, but more importantly, I think that underlying friendship makes for a more intimate, heartfelt romance on paper.
-- The emphasis should not center on the man or the woman (or whomever) as an individual, but on both parties. I want both characters to be dynamic, intriguing, strong and valuable in their own ways.
-- It isn't so much about opposites, but about complements.
-- It's important to understand what the characters love and value about one another, so you can translate that to the audience. A deeper, more emotional connection will leave a more endearing, lasting impression on the readers.
I still get that question that plagues all romance writers: "Oh, so you write romance?" And the questioner always says the word like it tastes bad. The answer is, Why yes, I do. So did Shakespeare. Every story is a love story of some sort. Some girls get to live them, and some girls write them. I'll happily hold the pen.