Thursday, September 28, 2006

Shoot, Even When I'm Relaxing

OK, so Michelle celebrates with chocolate and a glass of wine and Tammy takes in a movie ... I took the hybrid approach and treated myself to chocolate chip cookies (not as good as a bag of Dove chocolates, but in a pinch, cookies'll do) and a movie.

It was supposed to be a time when I could relax and lose myself in a movie -- a thing I find very hard to do with books anymore. I availed myself of an unexpectedly a free video rental -- the video store actually -- gasp -- called me to say they'd missed me. Sheesh, I really have been in a cave!

I rented JUST MY LUCK. It looked funny, and I liked the premise. I'm a sucker for romantic comedy and thrillers -- I know, two opposite ends of the spectrum!

So off I go to lose myself ... only, I couldn't. I found myself analyzing the heroine's sympathy quotient (at first, not much ... dang, I'd hate someone that lucky). And then I found myself REALLY pulling for the hero ... great character with many layers, and the screenwriter didn't take the cliche way out and have the hero corrupted with the good life. He remembered where he came from.

But it was the black moment that got me ... that's when the conflict -- which sprang forth so organically from the way the movie was put together -- really hit me in the face. How WOULD the writers work this out?!

I got it then, again, in a new way, what conflict does for a story. (Sorry to bore you non-writers out there with writing stuff, but this is really how my puny, pathetic brain operates) It must come from the characters -- their goals, their motivation. You have to create those layers first ... and then you can threaten them with something that really scares the be-jeebers out of 'em. And it must be, uhm, not opposing, but almost (at first glance) a clear win/lose situation -- if the hero loses, the heroine wins, and vice versa ...

And THEN, to top it all off, you have to think outside the box (and this is where JUST MY LUCK fell apart for me) and create a solution to that conflict, something believable and credible, something that supports the idea that the heroine and hero will indeed be able to live happily ever after.

Any of you want to share with me when/how a lightbulb moment went off for you? Either about writing or life in general ... what and how?


tammy said...

I agree totally with you about the movie Cynthia. Saw it the other night and thought it was a really cute, fun movie - but didn't like the way they ended it at all. I think it's the writer in us - we can't JUST watch or read anything anymore without analyzing it.

My lightbulb moments are almost any time I watch good tv. I love watching programs that are done right and enjoy the "place commerical here" moment that comes after they've built and built and then duh dum - commercial. It reinforces to me how chapter hook endings should be done. The building through the chapter and then the moment when you just have to know what's going to happen next - cut to commerical - aka the next chapter. Guess that's why I'm so hooked on some tv.

MaryF said...

See, I liked the way it ended. But you're dead on about the conflict. How would they resolve it, and that kept me watching.

I do wish she'd angsted a little more about whether or not to kiss him, though.