Monday, June 29, 2009

Southern Comfort

Welcome to a little southern comfort as we continue our exploration of passionate love stories this week. Today's passionate love story involves Margaret Mitchell's unorthodox, though now classic romance between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler set against the backdrop of the Civil War, a turbulent coming of age for the spoiled and pampered Scarlett as she struggles to find love and survival as her world crumbles around her.

Southern Comfort

From the first words Margaret Mitchell wrote in her 1936 novel, you knew that you found something that defied conventions:


Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it

This willful, spoiled and head-strong sixteen year old girl would dominate perceptions of Southern Belle's for the next 90 years. Scarlett is the eldest of three O'Hara daughters. She and her sisters live with their beloved mother Ellen and their Irish father on a beautiful plantation in Northern Georgia called Tara.

Their nearest neighbors are the Wilkes family at 12 Oaks. Scarlett longs to make Ashley her beau and she makes her intentions clear during a barbecue at Wilkes plantation, when Ashley rejects her, Scarlett by seeking love with Melanie's brother Charles Hamilton. Despite the looming war, Charles suffers a most inglorious death -- he dies of the measles, but not before impregnating Scarlett. Her son is named Wade Hampton Hamilton and he loves his mother, but often fears her as well. During the war, hardships drive Scarlett to marry her sister's beau Frank Kennedy for his money. She gives birth to his daughter Ella Lorena Kennedy.

Throughout it all though, is Rhett Butler, the rakish gambler who enjoys Scarlett's tempestuous ways. He's not proper company, so she sets her sights higher. He's also not so taken in by her charms that he won't give as good as he gets. When Scarlett finally marries Rhett, she tells herself it's for the financial security, but in quieter moments, she admits to her love for him.

Published in 1936, Mitchell's novel would win a Pulitzer prize and be made into one of the most romantic movies of all time with the 1939 release of the film Gone with the Wind starring Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as the tempestuous Scarlett O'Hara.

Library Scene at 12 Oaks

At 12 Oaks, Scarlett confesses her feelings to Ashley only to be rebuffed. Her humiliation is deepened when Rhett reveals that he overheard her indiscreet behavior.




You Need Kissing Badly

The passion between Rhett and Scarlett always simmered beneath the surface and this scene captures their incredible chemistry.




Passion

Probably one of the most controversial scenes filmed because the previous scene indicated that Rhett was about to rape his wife, Scarlett wakes up, feeling quite good about having been so thoroughly ravished the night before -- perhaps for once giving up on her games of power and position and just enjoying her husband.





Frankly My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn

The couple shared a beautiful daughter Bonnie, but Bonnie's unfortunate death left a rift in this passionate couple's relationship that neither was willing to bridge. The infamous scene where Rhett walks out, leaving Scarlett behind is powerful because Scarlett does not give in -- despite the heartbreaking loss.



In the end, Scarlett is alone save for her children, her friendship with Ashley (a man she no longer pines for) and Ashley and Melanie's son, a child she loves well for himself. It is a stunning contrast to see Scarlett fight so fiercely for the milk-faced Ashley, the man who was simple, dull and old-school gentleman, but who could never stand up to Scarlett's fiery desires versus battling her own feelings for Rhett.

Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler would come to life again in a sequel written with the Mitchell family permission allowing these lovers to finally be happy. But it does not diminish the power of the initial relationship nor the strong punctuation point an unhappy ending gave them --because Scarlett and Rhett were so strong-willed and like-minded that they couldn't see the forest for the trees where their relationship was concerned.

And frankly, my dears, we do give a damn.

Passionate Love Stories

What are the ingredients necessary for a passionate love story? A tragic hero who carries the weight of the world on his shoulder? A heroine strong enough to bear the burden? Intelligence? Wit? Charm? What about the ability to meet the other on a level playing field? They can come from different worlds, different social strata -- even completely different cultures if they can cross bridges with one aspect of their relationship?

This week the Daily Dose is going to focus on passionate love stories in literature -- all forms from comics to chick lit to supernatural and paranormal romance to fine literature. So buckle up!

Batman and Wonder Woman - A Passionate Love Story Never Told?

I enjoy watching Justice League Unlimited on one of the cartoon networks. As a long time fan of the comic book genre and DC Comics in particularly I find the characters and characterizations on Justice League Unlimited to be very complimentary to my ideals of these characters. The flirtation between Bruce Wayne and Princess Diana was a subtle, well-played passionate love story done in animated form.

In this clip below, we see Diana teasing Bruce and Bruce being very blunt about why they cannot possibly have a relationship.



In this clip, the Justice Leaguers are kids -- Bruce is pretty emo (considering his tragic childhood, that makes sense) and Diana's pretty bossy. But she and Bruce are still making googly eyes at each other.




In this last clip, the person who put it together very lovingly showed several key moments in the Diana and Bruce flirtation. While the pairing was never a reality in the comic books and seems out there for fans of Christian Bale's Batman, the idea of it is not as out there as one might assume. In the hands of the right writer, the most disparate of individuals can participate in the most passionate of love stories.



Ultimately, for a passionate love story to work, you have to believe in your characters and their characterization. You have to love them and want it to work out for them against the odds. Animated characters or not, the flirtation of these two legends is definitely the greatest love story never told and my hats are off to the writers of this series and the animators who so deftly portrayed it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Secret Life of Pantsers

Yesterday at the Dallas Area Romance Authors meeting (my first time), Kathleen Baldwin gave this great presentation on the secret life of a pantser. A pantser for those of you, who don’t know, is a writer who creates by the seat of their pants. They don’t plot, they don’t draw up outlines, they sit down at the computer or with their pen and paper and they create.


Letting the Genie Out of the Bottle


As a pantser, outlining a story is one of the worst things I can do to myself. A couple of years ago, I got excited by an action-adventure story. I really wanted to write it. I wrote an outline for the whole epic from beginning to end, I highlighted the goals, the motivation, and conflict and the dark moment that would happen before the book’s climax. I wrote how the characters would overcome and I even wrote who would live and who would die.


The outline was about darn perfect, I knew every single thing that would happen. I knew where the story was going. It was an ideal roadmap or blueprint. I was very pleased with myself. I printed it out, set it in a folder on my desk to begin work on it the next day. That’s where it rests today: in that same folder under a stack of other folders on my desk, because I never wrote anything more on it.


In my own way, I let the genie out of the bottle. I knew everything that was going to happen so there was no excitement left for me to discover. Writing from an outline when I’m putting together a white paper or a non-fiction article is one thing, it organizes my thoughts and keeps it clear. When I’m creating fiction, I want the genie in the bottle until the words hit the page.


Tools and Tricks


Kathleen Baldwin offered some great tools and tricks for pantsers to use, particularly in the editing process. My favorite was the scene and sequel. In scene and sequel, I can dissect a scene after I wrote it, particularly if my instincts are telling me something is amiss. So while I may write by the seat of my pants, I have the right tools to edit the completed work afterwards.


If that means re-writing whole sections – okay.


Are you a pantser? A plotter? Or a plotster (somewhere in the middle)?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What Do Certain Kisses Mean?

Writing romance or inviting romance into your story means that you will write about kisses, soft kisses, cheek kisses, earlobe kisses, eye kisses, finger kisses and wet, warm spine tingling kisses. So the question then becomes what do certain kisses mean? What does a kiss say about your characters and where they are in their relationship?

The butterfly kiss is a soft, fluttering kiss that flutters the heart. It's teasing kiss, a flirtatious kiss. It awakens feelings, desires and promises provocative ideas. Butterfly kisses are just a breath away from the flesh.

Soft kisses are delicate, like the petals of a rose. They can be reserved for close friends and small children. Soft kisses to the lips play the prologue to deeper, wetter kisses in the future.

Kisses to the cheek are friendly kisses. They can be patronizing, too. They can be a devilment, a tease and a slap in the face of someone who wants more. Cheek kisses can amp up the tension between your characters, particularly if one is fighting their attraction for the other.

The earlobe and eye kisses are far more provocative. The earlobe kiss nips gently at the soft flesh of the ear, suckles on it and often includes the gentlest brush of the tongue against the soft flesh. The eyelid kiss can be a butterfly kiss, but when a couple is exploring their passion, the eyelid kiss seasons the desire. It can be among the more intimate, trustworthy kisses that happens in the depths of passion.

Finger kisses can be playful and pleasurable. These are most likely to occur while basking in the afterglow, limbs entangled together. Nibbling, soft kisses along the fingers is seductive and a reminder of seduction.

What are your favorite types of kisses?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Types of Angels

Types of angels, and demons for that matter, are popular in our fiction and in our reality. Farrah Fawcett, for example, is heavily identified with her role as Jill Monroe on Charlie's Angels. Although she only played that role for one year and in a series of guest spots over the next couple of years, nearly every news report calls her one of Charlie's Angels.

Michael Jackson, celebrated for his music, also spent a great deal of time as a fallen angel -- a demon, vilified for his time spent with children and his eccentric lifestyle. His sudden death created a culture shock of reaction. Will he be remembered as angel or a demon? Hard to say.

Ed McMahon, the voice of the host Johnny Carson and a well-deserved power figure in his own right also passed away this week. How many people remember McMahon's Star Search and his discovery of such wonderful types of angels in entertainment including Aaliyah, Drew Carrey, Dave Chappelle, Tyce Diorio, Bill Engvall, Kevin James, Alanis Morrisette, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler and countless others. He was there for Johnny and he was there for us.

These three angels left us this week and while I was heavily invested in following the story of Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal, this does not diminish the loss of the others. I know that just a few days ago Ryan celebrated because Farrah finally said yes to marrying him, a question he'd asked over and over again.

I know Michael fought to find love and acceptance, but he never quite seemed to be comfortable enough with whom he was to find anyone else and Ed McMahon, Ed was a familiar and comforting voice and laugh. These three people were wonderful parts of my childhood and I will miss these angels, I will miss what they brought to the world, the gifts they shared with us and I hope they find peace in their next lives.

Rest in Peace:

Ed McMahon (1923–2009)
Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009)
Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Melissa and Ade - Dances of Love

To me, dance is about the poetry of motion, the ability to tell a story through movement combined with sound, passion and performance. In the third season of SYTYCD, I was crazy about Pasha, I thought he had all of those qualities. This season, my favorite dancers are Melissa and Ade. They've not made a single mis-step this season in my opinion.






Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pure Romance

Pure romance is the key to a successful adventure. I love romance novels. I grew up reading my grandmother's harlequins from Penny Jordan to Nora Roberts and many, many more. Romance is important to every kind of storytelling because it's at the heart of who we are. Humans crave connections -- we want to be close to other people -- so whether we're fighting an empire a few hundred galaxies away, journeying through Stargates, riding magical horses that can speak or fighting dragons on the wring -- we can all relate to romance, to the hunger for love, human companionship, touch and passion.

Pure Romance

Not everything I write uses pure romance. In fact, I write a lot of stories that are more urban fantasy than paranormal romance. Remembering Ashby is a pure romance, it's a story about passion, love and the magic of two souls recognizing each other and being utterly unable to walk away from the power of the love and passion that ignites between them.

Writing pure romance is different from my urban fantasies, because while I know my characters aren't perfect, they still achieve a level of perfection in the eyes of their significant other. In Remembering Ashby, it's Adam absolutely worships the ground Melanie walks on. He can't imagine a more perfect woman, yet she is flawed. She adheres to her responsibilities, she is afraid of the passion between them.

I've told some people before that when I wrote the story originally, the love they felt for each other was not enough to save them from the world conspiring against them. It took a lot of thinking to allow them to win out over fate -- and I'm glad I did. Because everyone needs a taste of that pure romance.

Welcome to the daily dose of fantasy and romance, a blog by me, Heather Long. I'll babble about books, television, news and whatever else catches my fancy. Oh and if you are looking for me elsewhere, you can find me at:

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