1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Writing Love

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by TheCrystallineEntity, Jan 14, 2017.

  1. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    1,072
    242
    63
    There's a big difference between disagreements, spats, or other forms of confrontations that lead to a heated argument, and events that lead to people actually separating from each other.

    My parents may have had arguments every once and awhile, or got on each others nerves, but it was never to the point where they considered living separately.
     
  2. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

    144
    49
    28
    They have the healthy and for life marriages precisely because they made the decision that nothing, no matter what, could lead them to separate. If Divorce is on the table, at any point, you cannot have a healthy and for life marriage. So, yes, it is a false statement. And it is not an insult to the people who have those relationships to say that.

    That being said, let's go ahead and drop it. This has little or nothing to do with the topic, and I'm tired of this tangent.
     
  3. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    1,072
    242
    63
    I use the element of romance as another means to put people into situations where there morals/ethics are tested/questioned. Does allegiance to family and country come first? When is someone beyond being forgiven? Can the person love someone despite what they have done in the past? Is the greater good more important than the happiness of two people?

    This is more important to me than focusing intimately on the relationship between two people as the main plot. You can write an entire book that deals with the relationship dynamics that exist between two people and get to the very foundation of why they are together. This is the type of story I'm not interested in writing. Currently that is. No star-crossed lovers in the near future.
     
  4. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

    517
    197
    43
    I'm going to say one last thing before dropping the subject. Very few people go into marriage thinking they will get divorced. Even among people who get divorced, divorce was never on the table... until suddenly it was, and that spelled the end of that marriage. If it was as simple as people deciding that their marriage would be for life, divorce would be an extremely rare thing indeed.
     
    Heliotrope likes this.
  5. Russ

    Russ Istar

    2,163
    1,127
    163
    Now it appears that both sides of this discussion have decided to make some pretty radical and likely false statements.
     
    Heliotrope likes this.
  6. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,558
    1,828
    163
    Yeah, it's mindsets like that that I believe actually lead to more divorces. This idea that your marriage is supposed to be happy and perfect all the time or there is something wrong with it. Nope. Marriage takes work. Hard work. It's not pretty. It's not perfect. It gets pretty ugly. If you go into a marriage thinking it's going to be perfect forever then you are in a world of hurt IMO. However, that is neither here nor there.

    I can't believe I'm contributing to this nonsense.
     
    Russ likes this.
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    2,595
    1,742
    163
    @Helio: I think that by introducing the word "primal" in this very long thread, I induced a bit of change in its direction heh–maybe by striking a primal nerve hah!

    I think that maybe the issue for me is in whether we can "appeal to the most primal human natures" in more ways than by displaying a character going through deep, life-altering emotional and mental turbulence relating to long-held deep desires and personal life goals–or, for the sake of the topic in this thread, relating to a romantic relationship's internal stability. I think we can.

    There does seem to be a modern bias for appealing to primal human natures through creating extreme intimacy with a main character. The need to feel loved and lovable is rather primal, I think; so, let's make the MC insecure, let's have petty disagreements escalate due to that insecurity, let's have the threat of abandonment and betrayal.

    Because we want to induce change and the things change brings into our story for the reader, like uncertainty, doubt, hope, tension, curiosity, suspense....having a character's path shaken so often by insecurities, emotional buttons being pushed, her own ill-considered actions springing from these things and the results of her actions, may add those elements.

    ....But really, how big are those stakes? Bobby might not really love her, poor thing! In a romance story, this is the story, and that's a major stake.

    In a character story (a la MICE), that may be a major stake, because in a character story the movement is from "Character in one state in life but wants another state in life" to "Reaching that new state in life," and a significant portion of that change will involved a character's ability to keep from stabbing herself in the foot, in the heart, in the head–and falling back to the original state in life or something worse!

    But when Big Baddy is threatening the world...?

    The potential danger in relying on character instability as a major vehicle of change is something I'll call the "CW Network Effect." This is where the entire plot of the season could be resolved in probably 3-5 episodes, but we need 24 episodes so we're going to have the group break up, fight, hide Major Secrets from one another for self-centered reasons or because they are embarrassed or insecure, throw in love and hurt feelings and misunderstandings so these people can't work together....Basically, we have at least 19 more episodes we need to make, and we haven't really given thought to any other way to create interesting try-fail cycles involving the villain.

    So to use a sports metaphor, it's like watching a championship game in which any changes in fortune are due to unforced errors. And Team X makes lots of these, almost every play. Now, if someone were to script that game, heh, he might be thinking this is going to be extremely boring for fans of Team X. So we need to make Team Y at least as bumbling, or make Team Y weak, or else keep Team Y off the field/court for most plays just so viewers don't know Team X is destined for a loss in the first third of the match–and Team X is going to make enough unforced errors while alone on the field, heh, there's no danger of the game being decided in their favor in the first third of the match.

    So for me, that's the danger. From my own reading experiences, I'd say there are a lot of bad or mediocre fantasy novels that fall into this method of creating turbulence or creating try/fail cycles and tension. This could be a case of amplification simply because those instances stuck in my craw, so take "a lot" with that grain of salt.

    But unforced errors, self-created obstacles, and so forth are not inherently bad and can create many interesting situations if applied with finesse rather than as a hammer to break up everything–in many types of stories. When I mentioned the word primal before, in context with the idea of change, I meant this kind of focus, i.e. having deep character changes and turmoil carry most of the weight of introducing "change" to the story and all the things change brings. So I've been at a bit of loss when trying to decide how to respond to your comments, because I wasn't arguing against appealing to primal human natures. (Although I think a discussion of what these comprise could be interesting. )

    BTW...Demesnedenoir had mentioned a conceit of "always something wrong beneath the surface," prompting my initial comment, and I do think a further discussion of whether starting out with a pane of glass riddled with cracks is always a great method for increasing a reader's impression of the stakes, heh. I mean, even a very tiny pebble could shatter the whole thing; is there a primal fear of pebbles? A boulder would be too obvious? Heh. Now I'm wondering whether I'd admire a couple who decides to build a house of cracked glass more than a couple who would choose sturdier stuff...Perhaps a story about either couple could be very interesting.
     
    Heliotrope likes this.
  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,558
    1,828
    163
    Damn you and your super intense posts FifthView! Now instead of making lunch for my kid I'm going to sit here for the next hour trying to unpack that ;)

    I think that maybe the issue for me is in whether we can "appeal to the most primal human natures" in more ways than by displaying a character going through deep, life-altering emotional and mental turbulence relating to long-held deep desires and personal life goals—or, for the sake of the topic in this thread, relating to a romantic relationship's internal stability. I think we can.

    There does seem to be a modern bias for appealing to primal human natures through creating extreme intimacy with a main character. The need to feel loved and lovable is rather primal, I think; so, let's make the MC insecure, let's have petty disagreements escalate due to that insecurity, let's have the threat of abandonment and betrayal.


    So I read a great book one time on writing comedy, and this was the example they used for the character of Micheal Scott. Micheal's deep "need" is to be liked. In fact, the author (who had written tv comedy for a number of years) argued that pretty much every character's deep need is "to be liked." However, they go about it in different ways. I think this comes back to that idea of "Every story is a love story" because inherently (some people believe) the core of every characters motivation is to be "loved." So they write in these insecurities so that the character is forced to act, forced to continue to maintain that equilibrium of 'being liked'. So Micheal Scott has this inner conflict of trying to run a business, but also to be liked by his staff. This is the driving force behind every episode. How does he do that? Often he can't, which causes a lot of trouble, which causes the plot to go in many hilarious directions.

    I'm not agreeing that all characters have an innate drive to be "loved" (though it is an interesting concept).. however, I do think most stories need a character that is deeply flawed in some way? A character that needs something, inside himself, in order to be whole?

    I think, maybe, I would need a concrete example of what you mean? I'm not sure I'm understanding correctly what you are saying when you say "Primal as meaning having deep character changes and turmoil carry most of the weight of introducing "change" to the story and all the things change brings"?

    I believe that characters need to be intrinsically motivated and that motivation is what leads them to make choices, and then eventually those choices lead them to having to make change. The more deeply rooted the motivator, the stronger the character? No?


    And yes, I do think starting out with a pane of glass riddled with cracks is the better method of increasing the reader's impression fo the stakes. If you (and we are speaking hypothetically right?) show the couple building the home of already shattered glass then the reader knows it is fragile. It could be easily broken. If they like the couple and want the couple to be okay then they will be riveted, because they know that even the tiniest pebble could destroy the home. It is not the fear of the pebble that is primal, it is the fear of the couple not making it that is primal. The fact that it is so fragile adds to the tension and the hope they will be okay in the end.

    This is why typically we see a lot of irony in the characters used for certain roles in fiction. Was Tolkien not "building a house of shattered glass" when he used Frodo, the Dwarves, the Elves, and the men as the fellowship to deliver the ring? He could have used battle hardened warriors (A sturdy, bullet proof house) but where is the fun in that? Where is the story in that?
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
    FifthView likes this.
  9. Russ

    Russ Istar

    2,163
    1,127
    163
    A couple that decides to build a house of cracked glass I don't think would be admirable because they fall into the TSTL category. If you have a choice the sturdy house is always better.

    But characters (unlike writers) often don't have a choice. They are who they are and have to work with what they have. I do think readers are happy to invest in characters who are willing and able to rise above the fact that they have been handed a cracked glass house.
     
  10. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    2,595
    1,742
    163
    Decades ago, I saw or listened to an interview of someone whose life's work was helping the terminally ill, and this included often being with them in their final days, hours, moments. He said that the most common deep questions/concerns they voiced at those times were not about, oh, a business continuing or whatever, but two: "Have I loved (well) enough?" and "Have I been/Am I loved?" I don't remember who said it, but this has always stayed with me. When everything else is stripped away, all those other drives, motivations etc. — Like, Gotta find a good job! Gotta look my best every Sunday for church! Gotta order the next book in series X! — this deeper concern came to the fore.

    You had mentioned appealing to primal human nature, and so in the part you quoted I wasn't talking about every character's nature, per se, but about real human beings' nature. I.e, I wasn't saying "characters have an innate drive to be 'loved,'" I was giving an example of a real human need or desire. I mean, if you are appealing to something....gotta be something off the page, right? Also, unlike Michael Scott's desire to be liked, this need to be loved may not include "by everyone" in it.

    I think that maybe our difference in looking at this may actually be quite germane to this conversation, because your example of Micheal Scott is focused on how it shaped his interpersonal actions. I.e., no putative "primal desire" is worth considering if it can't be used to explain everything a person does, be a driver and better yet, THE driver. So....

    ^This really goes back to the start of this line of dialogue, my comment to Demesnedenoir. The driving force behind every episode. No heist involving stealing an evil king's magical bauble can be interesting enough, moving enough, entertaining enough if the theft isn't intimately tied to that thief's deepest, darkest, strongest primal need. Possible ultimate result: The heist story is not really a heist story; that's a veneer for showing 20 weeks' worth of notes from a psychiatrists' sessions in treating that thief. And maybe if this is a character story, that's what it should be.

    Ok, so let's look at the opposite, by looking at the opposite of My 20-Week Treatment of the Legendary Thief Rygaf, by Dr. Phil.

    Guardians of the Galaxy. Why was Peter Quill stealing that infinity stone at the beginning of the movie? Was it his deep desire to have his mother back alive? Well, who knows. We didn't get an inside track on his motivation for stealing it. But that theft wasn't the whole movie. I think that in the whole of the movie, we can only plausibly associate his actions with a deeply held desire in one area, and that's in his relationship with women; but we have to surmise this by adding some knowledge we bring to the movie, and it's only a guess. He's finding "substitutes," which is why he's promiscuous, until he meets Gamora and then it's a little more serious. (Putting on my Dr. Phil hat here.)

    Drax is certainly motivated by a deep desire/need. He's out for revenge against the movie's villain(s). Gamora, also, given her past and consequent hatred of Thanos and desire to leave his control. But Quill?

    The Guardians are all motivated by friendship more and more as the story progresses, and this may certainly appeal to our primal desires. And they want to save a planet and the galaxy. These things might spring from deep desires within them and inform the story and their actions as well as motivate them, even drive them at some point, so it's not as if I'm advocating for the use of characters with no characterization, heh. They even bicker, have disagreements, sometimes due to insecurities (drunk Rocket.) But the catalyst for these particular changes comes from without, the infinity stone and Ronan. If Ronan hadn't been out for the stone, Quill would have easily sold it at that shop and End of Story.

    To the degree that a desire for friendship, saving friends and the galaxy became motivators, these were only tweaked, brought to life, through introduction of the exterior threat. The arc of change for the whole story is "Threat to me/friend/galaxy appears" .... "Threat removed." It's basically an Event movie (MICE). Most of the changes in the movie can be broken down similarly. Each of the Guardians are antagonists to one another after that shop scene; so "threat appears.....threat disappears." They have common threat after that (imprisonment) which they work together to remove. They then decide to go sell the stone, either out of greed (not one of those deep, dark, life-long dream sort of motivators) or, in the case of Drax and Gamora because they have ulterior plans relating to a deep motivator. An exterior catalyst causes some more change—the Collector's assistant blows up the shop. And then, yes, change comes from "within," when Drax calls Ronan; but then Ronan becomes the Threat that must be removed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
  11. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,558
    1,828
    163
    I think I see what you are saying... so no deep intrinsic messed up psychological motivators there... except...

    Not to die.

    Which is a pretty primal motivator. lol. So Quill is being hunted by a genocide happy maniac and creates a team to stop him from taking over the universe. Seems pretty primal to me. in an "Event" story the motivator typically is "not to die", in which case one does not need a file with Dr. Phil as a prerequisite to be motivated into action.
     
    FifthView likes this.
  12. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

    144
    49
    28
    Just because I say putting divorce on the table makes for a weak marriage doesn't imply I think it's rainbows and unicorns farts. It means I think leaving divorce as an option means you have an easy out when it gets difficult. Making that a non option at the start, varying extreme situations such as adultery or abuse, makes you far more likely to work through the issue since you're "locked in."
     
  13. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,558
    1,828
    163
    Are you married?
     
  14. I'm not, but I'm not even in the discussion soooo :p
     
  15. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    2,595
    1,742
    163
    Yeah, I wanted to mention death a few times and probably wrote way too many words about it before deleting them and writing way too many words anyway, going in a different direction.:D

    But again, if we are going to appeal to the most primal human natures, or provoke responses from readers, there are plenty of ways to do that besides having, say, Quill's inner thoughts about imminent death written out on the page. Seeing him in action, for instance, or the look on his face–or the look on another's face, a witness to the danger. Not to mention the visual expression of the danger itself. Cinema has this advantage of being able to show exact human expressions, heh, and other things like the swelling musical score, the close-up, the slo-mo, the explosion...These approaches have analogues in writing; but sometimes maybe it's easier to appeal by having that running inner dialogue of doubt, fear, etc.
     
    Heliotrope likes this.
  16. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,558
    1,828
    163
    Yes, but this is the difference between cinema and narrative. Depending on the type of narrative used you could spend a quite a bit of time in Quill's head running through death scenarios, or you could just show his desire not to die in his actions. It comes down to what sort of a writer you are. I tend to be a warm writer and favor first person or close third narrative where I can really get into the deep underlying emotions in my characters. Another author may be cooler (I use Clive Cussler a lot) and not get too deep into psychological factors... however, Clive Cussler almost always uses 'imminent death" as the motivator for his books.

    However, I think this is simply covered in "show don't tell", as in, don't just have the MC sitting around talking about how afraid he is of dying (obviously), though I do think there is value in narrative in that we ARE more intimate with the character than in a film. That is the whole point of narrative. That is the biggest underlying difference between writing fiction and writing screenplays. I think reader wants to have a deeper connection to a character in a book.

    Side note: I have noticed that in the past "event" stories seem to be more prevalent. I was talking about Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Carouso and Treasure Island with my boy tonight... all "event" stories, all using "death (starvation/walking the plank/being killed by savage natives)" as motivating factors. It seems that at some point in the late 70's people started to get bored with that and wanted to explore deeper/darker parts of the psyche (except maybe Poe who always seemed interested in deep dark parts of the psyche).
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
    FifthView likes this.
  17. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    2,595
    1,742
    163
    Yeah, I was also thinking about the rise of close, intimate third corresponding with this ... hah, bias. The word I used way, way up there^.

    For me this goes back to the Still waters run deep metaphor. I've also begun to think it relates to our old conversation about being "on-the-nose" vs not being on-the-nose.

    Just because a character's innermost, deepest motivators, history, desires aren't being churned up to the top of the narrative, driving it and the plot, doesn't mean those things don't exist and can't inform the narrative or appeal to the reader, I think.

    A lot of the bad or mediocre writing I've encountered has seemed too "on-the-nose" in its approach toward dealing with these character depths.

    This is oddly relevant to the intimate third vs omniscient third discussion we had, when Chessie quoted Marcy Kennedy talking about closeness vs distance for narrative voice. That way of thinking about narrative, closeness vs distance, broke a conceptual logjam for me, and I find myself thinking of limited third and omniscient through that lens every time now. (It's not that one is always close and the other always distant, at two extremes, however, since there's a continuum within each approach...) So...keeping those character depths hidden, way down under all that still water, may seem to describe this "distance." Plunging way down into those depths to where all the turbulence is or, perhaps, bringing that turbulence to the top of the narrative may seem to describe that "closeness."

    But I think that would be an oversimplification, because we can write intimate third without plunging so far down–not all characters are neurotics, and in fact many may not be incredibly introspective or tied in to their own desires and deepest motivators. Similarly, a more distant narrative approach does not mean that those depths remain utterly hidden or even greatly hidden, having little effect on the actions of the characters, the narrative–or the reader!

    So...this topic of ours began as a result of the suggestion that a married couple as primary MCs could be rather boring if there's no turbulence in the marriage. I.e., if their relationship as described and shown on the page didn't dredge up a froth from their inner depths. (Hope I'm not oversimplifying that point of view by use of this metaphor.) And then, through various steps, it led to this idea of appealing to primal human natures. I think that these "primal human natures" are automatically brought to the narrative by the readers, they are numerous (so fear of abandonment, loss of relationship is not the only avenue into a reader's interest, heart, whathaveyou), and can be provoked in many ways not requiring so deep a submersion into the MC's psyche.

    I'm not saying that deep submersion is an auto-fail, not at all (although I do think there are dangers in it, as there would be for a too-distant narrative approach that results in walking cardboard, depthless characters.) But only that there are other ways of going about it, heh.


     
    Heliotrope likes this.
  18. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,558
    1,828
    163
    Ahhhhhhh...

    Ok, so my take on it is this:

    IF you are writing (or reading) an "Event" story, in which the married couple are lost at sea, or in an airplane crash, or have to solve a crime, or have to save the world, then no, it does not matter if they are the most boring, loving, happy couple in the world. They could have little to no turbulance in the relationship and in fact could have a very solid relationship and still have a very good story.

    Again, I'll use Clive Cussler as the example. He has a husband/wife series out called the "Sam and Remi Fargo Adventures." In these books the man/wife team solve mysteries all over the world. They have a wonderful marriage, are true to each other, love each other. Zero turbulance. I own quite a few of the books and love how the two play off of each other to solve each mystery. The change in each story is how the world is different before the mystery, and after the mystery is solved. There is no change in Sam and Remi's relationship because that is not the point of the story.

    However, if a book is written specifically as a romance, then the focus of the change needs to be on the relationship. So, you start with a rocky relationship and you show how they make it better. There needs to be turbulance in a romance because the entire point of the story is to show how the couple overcomes the turbulance and becomes stronger by the end.
     
  19. ^Thaaaaaat's what I was waiting for someone to say!!

    A relationship in a story, even a relationship that forms the centerpiece of the story, need not have instability in it. But if the story is ABOUT the relationship, and the conflict isn't coming from any outside source, the conflict has to come from within. Which, I guess, means the stakes should ideally be very high.
     
    Christopher Michael likes this.
  20. Christopher Michael

    Christopher Michael Troubadour

    144
    49
    28
    As previously mentioned, yes.
     
Loading...

Share This Page