First, some housekeeping.
A big thank you to my readers and Posse and fellow authors from the Sex on the Beach series. You made Beyond Me hit number 1 on Barnes and Noble and kept it in the top 100 of Amazon for the week.
You guys seriously rock.
Second, I’m gearing up to celebrate my upcoming release, Searching for Perfect, the second in the Searching series. You’ll see all the characters from the marriage to a billionaire series so don’t forget to preorder!
So, instead of working on my new book, I took a break last week, and after flipping the remote after hubby went to bed ( so I wasn’t tortured by the Military, History, or Discovery channel) I came across one of my all time fave movies.
Some say it’s dated. Yeah, it may show my age. But I watched that sucker from beginning to end and once again, I cried and felt my heart surge. It was like an erotic novella, woman’s fiction, and chick lit all swirled into one perfect movie. My mind exploded with ideas for writing, and creating stories that reach into a reader’s gut and twists deep and makes them feel. Because that’s real power.
Now that I’m steadily writing books and am a bit deeper into my craft and career than years ago, I found myself wanting to delve into the inner workings of the story. Why did this movie do it for me? By analyzing some of the main facets, perhaps I’d be able to wrestle more of those emotions into my own work, which is a payoff for both me and my readers.
So, I did. And this is what I found. It’s all about character, just like I suspected. Each of their motivations and past mistakes and issues and goals were key. In the movie, the acting was what made it great. In a book, characters make it great and the way we write them.
Here are three main elements I was able to break out.
Choice is a big aspect in life, books, and movies. We pretend to be forced to do certain things, but in reality, it is all about choice. Our choice at the time to take one path over another. To decide what is right or wrong for us. In the movie, the father of Cher (the heroine) is cheating on his wife (Cher’s mother). The mother knows the truth but hasn’t confronted him yet. She spends most of the book asking the question: “Why do men cheat?” to various characters. She receives many different answers, and sifts through each one of them, trying to understand, make sense of it, accept it. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when she’s walking home from a restaurant with an attractive man she met while having dinner. The man had been chasing younger women, and Cher’s mother informs him he needs someone older to understand him. Throughout the scene, it’s obvious he begins to become interested in Cher’s mother. They reach her house, and they’re both standing outside on a cold winter night, looking at each other, and he asks her if she’ll invite him in. Now, this woman has been scorned, the guy is attractive, revenge may be tempting, and there’s a lot of ways she can decide to go with this.
What does she do?
Looks him dead in the eye and says she can’t invite him up. He asks why. And she says one of the keys to the whole movie: “Because I know who I am.”
Brilliant. Just brilliant.
He looks surprised, tries to persuade her, but the line is too powerful to ever back down from. She walks inside while he stares at her and we know we’re seeing a great moment.
Romance is different than passion in my opinion. It’s sweeter, more delicate, more subtle. It has various motions and meanings to every person in an individual way. But I never, ever get sick of this scene which I wrote about in my foodie romance novel, All the Way. Nicholas Cage’s character – the hero- loves the opera. Cher has told him she can no longer see him because it is wrong (hero is Cher’s fiance’s brother). He convinces her to give him one perfect night and then he will let her go forever. Cage asks Cher to go to the opera with him. She finally agrees.
The scenes leading up to her makeover is so girly and satisfying. She prepares for him, and finds pleasure in her appearance, and making herself pretty. We watch her get her hair done, buy a gorgeous red dress, fancy shoes. We watch her unpack the boxes in front of the fireplace, drinking wine, thinking about the night ahead. It’s all fantasy and dreamy. I remember getting ready for my own dates, and this scene brings all the memories back.
Then, when she appears in front of the Metropolitan in Manhattan, she walks to the famous fountain and he’s waiting for her in a tux. He gazes at her with shock, adoration, lust. And he thanks her. For accompanying him. For her beautiful dress and hair and shoes. And I frikkin lose it every time.
God, there’s so much passion between Cher and Nicholas Cage. Reminded me of those scenes in a good erotic novel where the tension is exploding, and the heroine is unsure what to do, and the alpha male just grabs control and makes her do what she wants to do in the first place.
After the opera, they walk home and when she finds herself at his apartment, she’s angry. Cher begins yelling at him, saying he promised to leave her alone. Her speech cuts to the truth. She admits she wants to make better choices than in her past, and follow her mind, not her heart. She tells him she will marry his brother because it’s the logical, right thing to do. WE all know she’s fallen in love with Cage. But it’s her black moment – she fights her feelings and destiny.
Nicholas Cage loses it. He goes all sexy, alpha male on her and tells her he loves her. Tells her love isn’t what she thought it was, it’s not nice and civilized—it “breaks your heart” and makes things a mess. He says he doesn’t care about anything but her, and claiming her, and points to his house and says’ “Now get in my bed!”
I’m always breathless by this point, though of course I know what she’ll do. What I’d do. What any woman would do.
She goes to his bed. She surrenders.
I love dialogue. I think it’s the basis of a great book, and a great movie. Cher and Cage has a wonderful banter full of sexual tension, darkness and humor that translates perfectly. When they first meet, he’s surly and bad tempered, yelling at her. Another woman would back down, but she stands up to him, calling him a “lone wolf, ready to tear off his own paw to get out of the trap.” You realize through their conversations they get each other. They’re meant to be together.
Later on, Cage turns those words on her when she tries to reject him, saying, “You run toward the wolf” and the images their dialogue contains are so vivid and add depth to the movie.
I’m not talking comedic or laugh out loud. Sometimes I love that. Other times it’s a humor interweaved within the realities of life. The grandfather goes out every night with a dozen dogs to walk them through the city streets. The leashes are tangled and he can barely contain them. A mass of writhing, barking bodies drag him through the city, but he loves those damn dogs, and they love him, and I see myself with my own animals and the ridiculous things I do for them because I love them. The grandfather sneaks food to them under the table during dinner. He sleeps with them. IT’s adorable. It’s real. It’s funny.
Oh, and of course the happy ever after. I need that in order to complete the cycle.
I decided to go back to my manuscript and make sure I’ve got all these highlighted and covered well. Dive deep. Be real. Watch movies that make you feel something, dissect them, and see if you can find an extra layer to unearth in your own work.