Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It is Better to Have Loved and Lost -- Eve

…than to never have loved at all. Isn’t that the way it goes? I never really agreed with this saying when it applies to real life. I mean, losing love really sucks, and if you’ve never been in love, you don’t know what you’re missing. Right?

But I do agree with this saying when applied to books and movies. After watching Atonement the other night, I realized that all the big, great love stories end tragically. Does anyone ever really get the girl (or guy) in a drama? I went through a quick list of classics: Casablanca, Romeo and Juliet, Endless Love, Out of Africa, The English Patient, Love Story, Brokeback Mountain, Ghost, Titanic. I guess star-crossed lovers only end up together in romantic comedies.

Which, of course, brings me to my current YA work-in-progress. Yes, the same one I’ve been working on for over a year. The love story. Yes, that one. It’s strange to think about the two lovers not ending up together. After all, they adore each other, they overcome tremendous obstacles, and I really, really love them! They must be together or the world will stop spinning! But, I also know that the tone and theme of the story may call for them to go their separate ways. Waaahhh! I know, so sad, right?

In the end, maybe it’s the longing for the love that can never be that touches readers more than the acquisition of that love. I mean, I was really happy when Harry and Sally finally kissed on New Year’s Eve, and promised to stay together forever. But when Francesca decided to stay in her truck on that rainy afternoon and let Robert Kincaid drive away from the Madison County bridges forever, knowing she would never set eyes on him again…well, that image still haunts me at night. And I read the book 14 years ago!

Maybe “having loved and lost” is the key to a good romance. I looked up the word romantic in the dictionary. It says: involving a relationship that is idealized, exciting, intense, and impractical. Impractical? Hmm... Interesting. I guess that’s why we don’t see romance movies where Harry and Sally or Robert and Francesca are arguing over paying bills, or trading in their convertible for a minivan, or saving for their kids’ college fund, or folding laundry together. Practical? Sure. Romantic? Not so much.

- Eve


Katie said...

Eve - I would not have agreed with you until recently, but yes I think you are right. The love that can not possibly work out is the one that seems to mean the most.

So I think you should use this theory in your book. Interesting post. I love that Bridges of Madison County....and at the time I thought it was so dumb that they didn't end up together. but I guess since I'm older I can relate better.

You nailed it.

Katie said...

I just realized that the lovebirds did not end up together in Stargirl, Looking for Alaska, 13RW, Twilight, I Heart you, You Haunt Me, what else? what else? I've gotta go make breakfast....Think of some teen books.

This is the key to getting published!!!

Don't let the guy get the girl!

Eve, you're brilliant!

Colorado Writer said...

You know what else is definately, not romantic? Shampooing chocolate barf out of the carpet at 4 am, while your kids are crying and your husband is heaving.

Also not romantic: new babies. A new baby=barf, poo and no sleep.

Have you ever noticed that there is a always a chase scene at the end of the romantic comedy? The dumb bell who decides at the last minute that he is in love after all, has to hurry across town, country or world to get to his love before she gets married, gets on a train or gets over him.

Disco Mermaids said...

Katie, you're right. I hadn't thought too much about the teen books where the guy and girl don't end up together. In my opinion, the teen years are ALL about heartbreak in one form or another. So, I guess it makes sense.

CW, funny! In a sick way. I've never had a new baby, but I'll trust you on that! Yeah, I guess if Robert and Francesca had ended up together, the romance would soon be lost when new babies and spouse barf entered the story.

Good points.


Disco Mermaids said...

I had never really realized that all romantic comedies end with boy gets girl (except for that one with Jennifer Anniston where she tries to get with her gay best friend. What was she thinking!?)

Nor had I realized that "spouse barf" was such a funny word.

Thanks, Eve!
Wuv you,

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with CW here and say that new babies are positively yummy! (barf and all)

But hard....yes very hard.

and I just thought of a fantabulous romance that is not a comedy AND the guy gets the girl...

Pride and Predjudice!! Also very yummy. Mmmmm


Disco Mermaids said...

Think about this! At most, unless we're polygamous, it's only possible to have one love which lasts "till death do us part." So every other romantic relationship in our lives, at some point, must end.

Meaning? Ratio-wise, literature (and movies) simply reflects reality. There are just a lot more story ideas to draw from failed relationships than happily ever after ones.

- Jay

booklady said...

I've read several books in which the two people go their separate ways, and in most of those cases it seems right. Bittersweet and beautiful. But sometimes it seems contrived, just as sometimes bringing the hero and heroine together can seem contrived simply because that's what you do in a romance. It has to be right for that book and those characters. So good for you for writing what you think is right instead of just what you think is expected--or unexpected.

Colorado Writer said...

Failed relationships give us more angst. Plus, humans always want what we can't have.

I never said babies aren't cute. They are. Why do you think I've had three? :)

Yee-Lum said...

Pride and Prejudice... mmmmm. Yes. Fantabulous romance indeed.

But Mr. Darcy belongs to me. Not you. Not Lizzie Bennet. Me. =]

(Side note: Other girls my age obsess over Edward Cullen. Me? Fitzwilliam Darcy. What does that tell you?)

@Katie: Twilight? They don't end up together in Twilight? Are we talking about the same Twilight? =]

I hate it when people end up together that really shouldn't end up together. It seems forced and stiff and not perfect at all. So it's a balance between what your readers want to see (everybody together with their perfect person), what you as the author can do with your characters (sometimes, they really just can't end up together, and there's nothing you can do about it) and what will work best regardless of what everybody thinks, characters, authors, and readers alike.

Adaora A. said...

But I think you can have romance and practically if you really want to. People have to put effort into everything, but they don't. We put all the effort in the world towards work, and in the outside world but it seems people are indifferent to matters of the heart - at home. You know what I mean Eve?