Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crazy Stupid Love


Sometimes we read and write about characters so immersed in love that in essence, they lose themselves. And that's so easy to do in adolescence because that first time feeling is like, WHOA, euphoric and indescribable and like a rabid animal clawing inside your chest.


For you I undress down to the sheaths of my nerves.
I remove my jewelry and set it on the nightstand.
I unhook my ribs, spread my lungs flat on a chair.
I dissolve like a remedy in water, in wine.
I spill without staining, and leave without stirring the air.
I do it for love. For love, I disappear.

(by Kim Addonizio)

But we also know that being consumed by another human being is not all it's cracked up to be. As adults, we've learned that you have to hold true to yourself or you'll jeopardize things. Relationships, values, pride and self-worth.


But how important is this to point out in a novel? Do we need to show character growth or is it okay to  leave it be for the sake of the story?

Many say this is what happened to Bella throughout the Twilight books. She got lost in a boy and turned into a vampire for him. Others see it as a beautiful, eternal love story.(side note: no matter how you view it, it's a crime that this series is scrutinized so viciously. I'd better hope that my first novel isn't ripped to shreds like this one is--it's a damn shame. Move on to the other thousands of novels out there. End of rant.)

Is the author responsible for teaching a lesson or telling a compelling story?

I recently beta read a (soon-to-be-published) book where the story was not happily resolved. It left me raw and bleeding as I held onto hope that there would be some redemption. It was so shocking that it punched me square in the gut and kept me thinking for DAYS.

Isn't that enough? Your thoughts...

(poem creditimageimage)

20 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

I tend to prefer sad, shocking, or tragic endings. Happy endings are just not that realistic. Actually, over both, I prefer somewhat ambiguous endings.

Lydia Sharp said...

Love is such a delicate topic. I believe there are certain things an author should *show*, but all of it has to be realistic for that particular character, not necessarily for *every* person who reads it.

Because every reader is coming from a different place. Love isn't something that we all experience in the same way or even at the same time during our lives.

So there is so much dependent upon the reader as to how the romance of a book is going to be digested, that it's almost silly to try and cater to anyone but yourself while writing... and then hope that you find a reader who connects.

Christina Lee said...

Matt, I like it all three ways *grin*. Isn't it great that we have a selection?

Lydia, LOVE that answer!

Christine Danek said...

Sometimes the endings that leave me that way (punched in the gut) are the books I love the most. They may even make me angry, but happy endings are nice too. It depends on the book. I'm with you on the rant. I've been reading some feedback on a few books that are coming out in the next few months, and it amazes me how harsh some people can be. It's scary.
I love the photos in your posts. Beautiful.

Joanne said...

I enjoy endings where the author leads you to what will happen next, but doesn't actually go there and spell it out. There's something left to the reader's imagination.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Even though sad, tragic endings often upset me or even make me mad ... I tend to remember those books longer.

On some level, I like a happy ending, but I know it's not realistic. Nothing is ever completely happily ever after.

As for YA books where the female protagonist loses herself completely in the guy ... I don't like them, but there are plenty of adult books just like that. I think we used to call them bodice-rippers ...

LisaDay said...

I don't mind a book that doesn't have a happy ending, but I HATE a movie that doesn't. That's why I didn't like that Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston movie.

lisaDay

Slamdunk said...

I prefer variety so I am ok with either the realisitic or fantasy endings. I am more concerned about character development and the appeal of the story--making me a journey reader rather than a destination.

Maddy said...

Love comes in all different forms. I'm glad that there are books out there that cover the entire spectrum :) As for Twilight, I read it as an adult, and though enjoyable, I can see where parents/teachers have issue with how it portrays love to such a young audience, especially since a lot of them haven't experienced the real thing. I would hate for my own daughter to think she would have to change who she is in order to be with the love of her life (like Bella does). But then again, even classic movies like "Grease" preach the same mantra. Sandy had to turn into the sexy vixen for her happily ever after :o/

storyqueen said...

I believe that author's obligation is to the story, not the "lesson."

We have the tell the story in the best way we can...and we have to let our characters be who they are, flaws and all.

Shelley

Christina Lee said...

Maddy, wow, that's just took me back ("You're the ONE that I want...")!

I think there is room for all kinds of books and Twilight is not the only example of this kind of love in fiction (though it keeps being ripped apart like it is).

You can spin it many different ways, too. Edward was a very loving, gentle and attentive boyfriend--does that mean he set the absolute standard for how guys should treat girls?

All of this is just food for thought...And I for one am SO GLAD there are so many different books out there and different kinds of readers.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oooh, that's a tough question. While I prefer happily-ever-after stories, I don't mind the punch-me-in-the-guts one ever so often because then I usually don't see it coming.

The main thing is each ending has to be authentic to the story. For example, in Before I Fall, I would have loved a different ending, but the ending Lauren wrote was the right one for the story.

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I don't mind a punch in the guts story.The story often lingers more, if that's the case. The happily-ever-after ones just drift away when I close the book. (I guess it most often depends on genre too. If it were a romance-type book I would expect everything to be wrapped up or I would not get a warm-fuzzy feeling).

Abby Minard said...

I like happy endings, but maybe a bit of a trial to get there. The MC has to go through a lot to get to the end- hardships, conflict, tragedy, etc. But in the end, I like the happy endings because in real life there are hardly any happy endings. If I want something realistic, I'll read the paper. I need to get lost in a story- its there to purely entertain me. But that's the great thing about all these different books- there is something for everyone out there. Not every book should conform to what one person thinks is the best way to write it. Plus, if a book aims to teach a lesson, especially a YA book, teens see right through that and will have nothing to do with it. I would avoid going that route.

Meredith said...

I don't think you need to teach something in your book. Life doesn't always have happy endings or morals or people to look up to. Sometimes it's just messy, and that can make for a good story.

Laura Pauling said...

I do enjoy both kinds of stories. In a lot of ways, teen love/obsession is like that though. Some high school girls are willing to give up everything - their friends, their free time...etc.

And I'm with you. I loved Twilight, the dramatic irony. I never even noticed the writing until writers started trashing it. On certain forums you couldn't even mentioned that you liked Twilight unless you seriously would be ostracized from the forum. That's what it felt like anyway. I'm really not sure why either. Stephanie Meyers wrote a first book and it got whisked up right away and pushed out fast. Totally not her fault. That's why I'm often glad my first novels weren't published!

Clara said...

Telling a compelling story, always.
Great post!!

LTM said...

I like both--happy and unexpected endings. I love these pictures and your thoughts about love. And I agree w/you on the over-analysis of TWILIGHT. Sheesh. :o) Thanks, girl! <3

Lourie said...

Think of Gone With the Wind. It did not end happily. And yet, we all remember it. We remember what he said. It was heart wrenching too. We don't always get the happy ending. And those ones that make you think...they are the good ones....

Now that being said....We all know for a fact that if HP had ended any other way JK Rowling would have had hell to pay. It's about knowing your audience too. And your characters. She killed significant people(and pets!!!) and wasn't happy about it. But she did it.

Great books don't come easy.

Francesca said...

I like happy endings but that does not reflect reality. Luckily there are all kinds of books. I am following you from Rome, Italy, we are a bit behind here when it comes to books. I will check you often to see what there is to read out there.