Thursday, February 24, 2011

Random Thoughts on Writing

In addition to yarn craft and Lego models, one of my other hobbies is writing stories. I have this vague idea for a series of books which will probably never see the light of day because I find it much more enjoyable to imagine different scenarios for the characters in my mind, and then write kind of a rough draft down. Jason and I (along with my brother Johnny, sometimes) are writing a Star Trek crack-fic. For those not "in the know" on fanfiction terms, a crack-fic is a specific type of story where all of the characters act like they are on crack. Or possibly that the writers were on crack when they wrote it. Anyway, what it boils down to is insanity. Some of the highlights so far include:
-Captain Picard ordering Riker to wear a tutu
-Wesley Crusher being ordered thrown out of the airlock
-Riker "dating" Tasha Yar (or, specifically, her cryo-preserved body)
-Troi singing the theme song from "The Huntsman" (we found Freakazoid! on DVD at the library)

Maybe it makes sense if the reader is on crack...

On another note, I have noticed that relationships in romance stories can usually be divided into three categories. Some stories fit into more than one, but so far I have not been able to think of any that could not fit into at least one.

The first cagegory is "Love at first sight." The characters meet, and there is an instant attraction between them. Their relationship is never really developed beyond that point; the audience is supposed to understand that this is "true love" even if the only thing they have in common is hotness. The rest of the story is spent separating and then trying to reunite the two lovers; the relationship is pretty much used as a MacGuffin for why the hero needs to go on his quest. This is quite common in Disney movies--off the top of my head, I can think of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and The Little Mermaid. Romeo and Juliet is another notable example, which is often held up as an ideal. These people have apparently forgotten that (a) their story ended badly and (b) both of the main characters are kind of idiots.

The next category is pretty much the opposite: "Hate at first sight." The characters meet and immediately clash. As they get to know each other, however, they realize that the other person has redeeming qualities after all. The rest of the story is spent developing their relationship as the characters grow. This leads to a much more believable connection between the two people, and a more honest relationship. A classic example would by Pride and Prejudice. Today, this one is common in romantic comedies. Disney's Beauty and the Beast fits here as well.

The third category is "Friendship becoming love." The two characters may have known each other for a long time, or they might meet at the beginning of the story. They began as "just friends," but now are ready to be more. Often, the two people involved are the last to realize that they belong together. The story is mostly spent trying to get the two characters together. Sometimes, this will involve one character (or even both) realizing the person they are currently dating is not "the one." Like "hate at first sight," this is a growing, changing relationship that is often quite believable. This type of relationship accounts for the other half of romantic comedies. Disney's Mulan also falls into this category.

Things get more complicated (and, when done well, more interesting) when the categories get mixed together. Unrequited love happens when only one character experiences love at first sight, or friendship becoming love. Their potential partner ignores them, hates them, or does not want their friendship to become anything else.

Some stories may follow more than one formula. Twilight is a unique example. It begins as "hate at first sight": Bella and Edward's first meeting is tense and edgy at best. Then they quickly (and unrealistically) realize their true love, and it follows the "love at first sight" formula, completely skipping over any type of character development. Bella also goes through "friendship becoming love" with Jacob, but this more believable development is dumped when Eddy comes back into the picture. This was one thing that frustrated me even when I was sort of a fan of the series.

Speaking of Twilight, there is some evidence that the author is confused about what makes a healthy relationship and what is abusive. The rushed development of Edward and Bella's relationship is one example: once they realize their true love, Edward's controlling behavior is completely ignored. An even more disturbing example is with Bella and Jacob. Jacob is in love with Bella, but she denies being in love with him. He forcefully kisses her after she tells him not to, which in a YA series like Twilight I figured would be treated similar to rape. Bella tries to punch him and ends up getting hurt because he is so muscular. Her father, who up until this point has been levelheaded and the voice of reason, takes Jacob's side and laughs when Bella complains. Obviously Bella is in love with Jacob! He just had to show her! The series is actually full of dysfunctional relationships passing as "true love." Despite all that, I do not feel that Twilight will be the downfall of society. Sometimes, a book is just a book. Hopefully it will fade into obscurity soon, with nothing left but the people who decided to name their daughters Renesmee.

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