Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dreams, Romance, and Study Notes

In the fourth grade, Eric Walters visited my school as part of the Silver Birch Reading Guild, presenting his nominated title, Camp X. I hadn't read the book, and I still haven't to this day, but it was that book, that visit, that day, that changed my entire life. It was that moment that I decided I had to be Eric Walters. I wanted to be a teacher and a writer, just like him. I thought it would be a perfect life. 

Of course, as I grew up, I abandoned this idea. It was silly. I'm not a writer. And I couldn't be a teacher. And I hadn't even read his book! I can't base my entire life on a writer I've never even read! But now, more than eight years later, here I am, about to graduate from high school, about to go to college, majoring in english and education, setting myself up to become a writer and a teacher just like Eric Walters. Apparently, I still think this would be the perfect life. 

Having realized I wanted to do these things, I decided it might be a good idea to actually try my hand at writing. The first step was the blog, which I started over a year ago, and thoroughly enjoyed up to this day. Now, I think it's time to actually try and write a story. I'll be finished exams in a little over two weeks, and, after that, I'll have more than three months off, to do whatever I want. It seems like the perfect opportunity to give writing a go. Now I just need a story. 

So many people say that you have to write something that you would want to read. Well, for me, I love reading great romances with really great characters. So, that's what I'm going to write. And I'm sure the story is going to suck. But I'll learn from, and I'll enjoy writing it. There won't be any pressure. It'll just be for fun. I'm very excited. 

As I'm planning and plotting and developing characters and relationships in my head (and in my word document), I've come to realize that a little research is necessary. If I want to write a good story, and if I want to learn about writing, I really need to examine what goes into a good romance, a good character. I've decided to do this in a somewhat scientific system, making a list of all my favourite couples of all time, and examining why I love them so much and what I can learn from them. To prevent this post from getting too ridiculously long, I've decided to just start with the tv couples. I'll cover the book and movie couples another day, I promise. Anyway, here's the list, and the study notes:

Cappie and Casey, Greek

Why I love their relationship:

-I love Cappie, as a character. He is so adorable, so funny and goofy, and so real. I wish I knew him. He's easily my favourite character on the show. I know his endless devotion to Casey probably isn't realistic, but I love him for it anyway. He dates Rebecca, and she dates Evan and Max, but he never moves on from her, never forgets her. He is a cool and confident guy, and a really great friend and leader, but he is also so vulnerable. He has weaknesses. He is not an idealized guy. He is incredibly immature, which can be really awesome, but also really awful. He is a great character--with so many strengths, as well as a few important weaknesses. I suppose this may be a benefit from being a tv show character and not a book character, but I think it has to be noted how well rounded Cappie is. In so many young adult books we see the world from the girl's perspective, and we only see the guy in relation to the girl. So much of Cappie is in relation to Casey, but so much is not. He has his friendship with Rusty, and Rebecca, and Evan, and, of course, the KT house. He loves Casey more than the whole world, but he still has his own world too.

-I like Casey a lot. I know some people hate her, but I don't. I admit she has limits, but I like her. I don't love her like love Cappie, but I can appreciate her, let's say. And, much like Cap, she has a whole world beyond the romance, with her great relationship with Ashleigh and her tumultuous relationship with Rusty, and her academic journey.

-I love how realistic their relationship is. Or, at least, how realistic is by tv standards, especially teen tv standards. Cappie and Casey are not fated to be together. It's not love at first sight. And it's not the easiest love. They each have their individual strengths and weaknesses, and their own interests and passions. They compliment each other, but they also contrast each other. Their relationship is not perfect and they specifically acknowledge that at many points. Cappie knows Casey is controlling, and Casey knows Cappie is immature and afraid of the future. But they both know that their love is big enough, important enough to overcome those weaknesses. They know that they are worth it. All together, it is a well developed, realistic relationship between two well developed, realistic characters, that I could not stop myself from falling for.

What I can learn from them:

-If you want people to love the romance, you have to make them love the characters. The most important thing in writing romance is not the steamy kisses or the sexual tension (though those things certainly help!), but a well constructed relationship between two well developed characters who compliment each other, and also contrast each other. It is all about character development--as always!

-You have to expand your characters. Their romance is important, but so is the rest of their lives! They need real friends, not just placeholders. They need parents and back stories and goals and dreams and strengths and weaknesses. They need to be real people!

-No relationship is perfect. Everyone has faults, and every relationship has faults. In order for people to fall in love with your love story you need to explore the limits of relationship, and you need to let the relationship grow and change, just as the character's do.

Booth and Brennan, Bones

Why I love their relationship: 

-I love Booth. I am crazily attracted to Booth (David Boreanaz). But beyond that, I love how manly he is. That's not normally something I would like. But I can appreciate it in him. I love how protective he is, how honourable and genuinely nice and strong he is. In a show full of scientists, I love how different he is. I love everyone in this show, which brings me to my next point...

-I love Brennan. She has limitations, of course. Brennan is terribly flawed, but in ways that you can't help but love her. And she's brilliant. And she always tries to do the right thing and tries not to hurt anyone, if she can. She's a good person, though she may not always realize what that means. And she is willing to change. She wants to change. Like she said in the amazing elevator episode, she used to be an impervious substance. Now she is a strong substance. There's a difference, and she knows that, and she continues to work on herself, and her relationship with Booth.

-I love how they click. She is the scientist, who only cares about facts and figures, and never accounts for feelings. His emotions drive him. He is the believer, the lover, such a very human character. Their friendship, and hopefully, their eventual romance, forces them to grow together. They push each other. He makes her grow, makes her expand outside herself and her little bubble. And he understands her. As many, many characters have noted over the years, Brennan can come off as abrasive and mean and just kind of awful. But Booth knows that that is not Brennan's intent. He knows that she's really a good person, which other people can't recognize sometimes because she has so many problems communicating.

-I love how mature they are. They are both smart people, and they both acknowledge their feelings for each other. But they also know that any romantic relationship they would have would be hard. They know they have to be ready for it.

-I love their little moments. By this point, it's pretty much become routine. The case ends. There's a scene with Cam and whoever or Daisy and Sweets, or Angela and Hodgins, or whatever. Then, the last scene is always saved for Booth and Brennan, usually in the bar, sometimes in the lab (earlier seasons), where they talk about the case, and about what they've learned that day. They laugh and grow closer, and just enjoy each other. I know it's becoming a little tired, like the parties that end every episode of Gossip Girl, but I always love these moments. I love being able to just enjoy them, being themselves, just appreciating each other. To me, that's true tv love.

What I can learn from them:

-Again, a good romance is about good characters. And unique and memorable characters. Not in an annoying, overly quirky way, but in a real way. Brennan is unique because of the way she communicates with people, the way she sees the world. Booth is unique in a less obvious way--he is hilarious and a man's man and just so him. If you want to write a good romance, you have write good characters that people like, and that people are going to remember.

-Once you get people to love your characters, you should really give them something for it. You may know your characters, every thing they think and feel and whatever. But the audience doesn't. Throw them a bone. Sometimes, give them a scene, a moment where the characters are just enjoying each other. Every moment doesn't have to be huge and dramatic. In fact, your book will be more realistic if they aren't. Let your characters breath.

-Ask yourself: Why does he love her? Why does she love him? Why do they hate each other sometimes?  If you can't answer those questions (which, surely, could be answered about Booth and Brennan), don't write the story.

Chuck and Blair, Gossip Girl

Why I love their relationship*:

*This one's a little more difficult than it would normally be, since we pretty reached a point of no return this week with Chuck's (SPOILER ALERT) attempted rape and window breaking. For the sake of the list, let's just forget the ending of the episode, and remember Chuck and Blair at their best, not at their worst, like they've been lately.

-I can't hate them. They can't hate each other. On any either show I would both of these people. I would hate Chuck for being such a slut and such a freaking idiot all the time. And I would HATE Blair, I mean HATE Blair for how awful she is to everyone, with all her scheming, and how valueless she is. But on this show, I love them most of all. This is probably in part because all the rest of the characters suck so much worse (ugly hair, no personality Nate, creepy, stalker Vanessa, self-obsessed and awful Serena). But it's also because they are just so ridiculous--which makes them so hilarious. I should hate them, but I don't. I love them. I love how unique they are, and I just laugh at their shenanigans (you know, when they ruin people's lives or whatever. No big deal). They are both so evil, and corrupted, except to each other.

-They need each other. They depend on each other. They sacrifice for each other. They love each other so much. And this produces such great moments. Just search Chuck and Blair on Youtube, and watch the scenes from each episode, especially season 3, and even season 4. They have so many little moments, testing their relationship, testing each other, leaning on each other. They are weak apart and strong together. And they love each other, and they will never stop. No matter how much Blair wants to marry the prince.

What I can learn from them:

-You characters and your romance has to fit in with the setting and atmosphere, and general world in which your story takes place. Characters like Chuck and Blair only work in the heightened reality that is the Upper East Side. They wouldn't work on a show like Bones or Greek--they would be so out of tune with rest of the show. You have to think about what type of story you want, what world you want to create, and you have to make sure your characters live within those limits.

-We all want to needed. Chuck needs Blair whenever drama with his dad comes up. Blair needs Chuck whenever she has drama with Serena or any other non-existent friends. This is part of what binds them together. When do your characters need each other?

Luke and Lorelai, Gilmore Girls

Why I love their relationship:

-I am always a sucker for the love-her-from-a-far storyline. I like almost any variation of it--best friend, best friend's brother, ex-boyfriend, what have you. And Luke and Lorelai are a pretty great example of this type of romance. He always loves her. He keeps the horoscope all those years! He gets jealous when she's dating Max! He waited for her, and once he decided he wanted her, he went and got her. And he so sure that he wants her, forever. I love them! I love them! I love them!

-I love Lorelai. She's an amazing character, played by an amazing actress, Lauren Graham. I love how great a mother she is to Rory. I love how independent she is. I love how funny and special she is. I just love her. She deserves a man like Luke, who's such a good guy.

What I can learn from them:

-Ultimately, it comes to a strong main character. Lorelai was so strong, so well developed, so adorable. Develop your main character! Make her vulnerable and real, and make people love her!!!

-Maybe, just maybe, write a love-from-a-far story. You're supposed to write something you would want to read. This is your favourite kind of romance! It's worth exploring.


Part one done, folks. Look for part two whenever I have another extended study break, which will be never, or May 23, whichever comes first.

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