Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Emotional Adventures

photoshopping together two of my own photos

There is no genre of books that does not have some within that deserve a bad rap. Published or self-published, the fact is not all books are of good quality. Top sales don't guarantee quality writing.

Romances though get the bad rap partly because of some of the silly stuff that has been in them where the dialogue makes a person laugh unless maybe they are truly into the genre. It's a joke in Romancing the Stone where the romance writing heroine is concluding one of her stories and crying with how emotional it is while we, the viewers, are laughing

Recently, Farm Boss and I started to watch Gone with the Wind, and at the risk of offending aficionados of the film, I couldn't stand the dialogue and contrivances. Yes, it is a romance even if someone wants to think being a classic moves it out of that realm. It also has ridiculous and very unrealistic dialogue.

I think flowery language, unbelievable plots, and painting all romances with the same brush is part of why the books have been so disdained, but despite that, more of them are purchased than any other genre. there must be a reason for their popularity. Unfortunately though the rap leads many avid readers to not even give them a chance.

Some time back I began to look for a better descriptive title for romances as the name seems to suggest Valentine's Day, flowers and candy. I came up with emotional adventures because that is what the best romances are-- except then romance readers would never find them. The best romances are a roller coaster ride of ups and downs with the swish of speed but the knowledge that at the end you will be safely on the ground again. The best romances take their readers on an emotional journey where life and death, loss and gain are side by side-- as they so frequently are in life.

If someone dislikes reading about the love between two people of the sexual sort, then it makes sense they'd not favor romances. Even though there are diverse types within the genre, in the end, romances are about mated love. Used to be all of them were of the male female type but that's no longer true. Generally romances are not tragedies although Brokeback Mountain was. I would not say Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe was a tragedy even though one of the lovers died early. Some would say, oh those cannot be romances! Yes, they can because the dominant relationship was of mated love.

image purchased from CanStock

Most romances have sex-- either in them or implied for the future. Sex is, however, not their core or they are erotica. If sex is the most important part of the story, it isn't a romance. In my mind, romances should be about the emotional connection between two people and that often does involve sex. It's not all. It's about the challenge of relationship as much as love with how two people can get together -- or not. Phony reasons to keep them apart are lazy writing.

For the books I read or write, I want a hero and heroine I can like. There has to be a believable obstacle and a real way they can overcome it-- something that actually works in human relationships. Romances can teach and inspire-- like that's a bad thing?

To write about the romance which is really about a hero and heroine, I learned the most from Joseph Campbell books, like The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Mythologies can teach a lot about motivations, consequences, plots and characterizations.

wolf image purchased from CanStock and put into one of my photos

I tried to decide if my Christmas novella, A Montana Christmas was actually a romance; and although there is a couple who are married, and another who might become lovers, it's really more about ranch life and trying to bring a family together. It probably would disappoint a huge fan of romances but won't be found by someone who is not. Because it is an extension (although it stands alone) of From Here to There, which was a romance an emotional adventure, I think it still qualifies.

One of the problems a writer has, in terms of marketing, is not fitting a genre. There isn't much you can do about it because writers write what comes to them. What comes to me are stories of lovers which I then set into situations that interest me, and I really enjoy the process.

When I typed 'the end' to the one I wrote in January and February, it reminded me how much fun it is. I like creating these characters and knowing, despite what they will go through, a happy ending awaits. Reading and writing them is going on an emotional adventure-- whatever the books are called.

Finally, after I finished this blog, I came across a review of the film Argo, which said what I think is true for the good novel/movie and decided to include some of it.
Argo isn’t a documentary; it’s a historical drama. The opening sequence features a title card that reads “Based on a True Story” – which is entirely accurate – but the film makes no promises about having every little fact straight or being a perfect recreation of the events ...

Truth is not as important as good storytelling, and that’s what the feature film industry is about. ... What matters is that it respects the spirit of the reality while also being worth paying $10 to see.

Disregarding strict truth in sacrifice of entertainment doesn’t merit a Best Picture award, but what does is pulling it off so spectacularly well. Screenwriter Chris Terrio’s script works on all levels and brilliantly pairs with the actor cum director’s style and ability to balance both the comedic and deadly serious tones. Despite the fact that you know the story has a happy ending, the film takes the audience on one hell of ride to get there, filled with thrills, laughs, high tension and sex jokes.

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