Monday, February 20, 2012

Love Worth Swooning Over

Martha Mihalick is an editor at Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Back in December of 2011, I came across this blog post that resonated so strongly with me, I have not been able to banish it from my mind since. And I don't want to. To any writer whose story contains a romance of any type, you should read this blog post.

So, I am quoting the post below, hoping to spread the vast knowledge and brilliance of Ms. Mihalick to others. Happy Reading. :)

A Fine Romance

I’m a sucker for a good romantic storyline. In books, movies, tv shows, songs . . . whatever. But what makes a romance plot thread a good one? I mean, I know it when I see it, but I’ve been letting this question percolate for a while to try to articulate the answer a little. And two things that have crossed my path in the last few weeks have helped to clarify it for me a little.

The first: Entanglement Theory. If you wikipedia that, you’ll come across a pretty dry definition. But I was clued into it by the To the Best of Our Knowledge podcast from January 23, “The Wonder of Physics.” At the end of the episode a writer explained it as the quantum physics theory that when two subatomic particles are spend a significant amount of time in each other’s orbits, they shadow each other . . . even after they are separated. If one spins a certain way, the other will, even if it’s moved far, far away. It gives me little goosebumps when I think about applying it to us, too, and the people we let enter our orbits–whether romantic, platonic, or family.

The second: the poem that Molly posted yesterday, “Those Who Love” by Sara Teasdale.

Those who love the most,
Do not talk of their love,
Francesca, Guinevere,
Deirdre, Iseult, Heloise,
In the fragrant gardens of heaven
Are silent, or speak if at all
Of fragile inconsequent things.
And a woman I used to know
Who loved one man from her youth,
Against the strength of the fates
Fighting in somber pride
Never spoke of this thing,
But hearing his name by chance,
A light would pass over her face.

But without further ado, here’s what I’ve come up with as some keys to a good romance. I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, or exceptions to the rule. Feel free to point those out in the comments!

1. The main story–the orbit–has to be about something other than the romance itself. Love stories are best when they’re subplots. The characters need an orbit to be in with each other, after all.

2. The two characters have some sort of immediate connection. Not necessarily a good one, but something that fascinates, intrigues, or challenges.

3. Their interaction is neither neat nor easy. There are complications, heartbreaks, arguments. The two of them don’t necessarily even know that they are in love, or that it’s going to work out. (Are you thinking Darcy & Elizabeth Bennet with these last two? I sure am. And West Wing‘s Josh & Donna, and MWT’s Eugenides & Attolia, and Graceling‘s Katsa & Po, and DWJ’s Howl & Sophie, and Sarah Dessen’s Wes & Macy, and . . .  see, I told you I’m a sucker for romance.)

4. Most of the romance is not directly talked about. It’s there in gestures, actions, reactions, and feelings, but rather than telling the reader how the characters feel, the writing makes us feel it along with them. As the poem points out, do the strongest loves need words? Are there even any words that could contain it right, anyway? Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t any direct declarations. There have to be one or two scenes when one of the characters holds a stereo over his head, or tells the other “how ardently he admires and loves her.” It’s payoff for all the signals and longing–and we do need to know that the characters realize what they feel for each other.

5. Along the same lines, a lot of the romance occurs in small, subtle details. It’s the build up of those everyday moments that make the grand gestures mean something. (I know I for one always think about the moment at the end of Lioness Rampant when George is there to catch Alanna before she even knows her knees are going to give out.)

6. There’s build up, yearning, tension as the characters circle each other, sometimes coming closer, sometimes further apart.

7. The ending isn’t a “happily ever after” that’s all sunshine and marshmallow fluff. Rather, it’s a hopeful choice that both characters are making together. They are a team by the end, a team that will take on whatever comes next, which is bound to be imperfect, but good because they can count on one another.

So, what do you think? Is this list a good start?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review - The List

Today I just finished my favorite book of 2012 so far.

The List by Siobhan Vivian.

In this book, the reader is thrust into the world of eight very different girls. Two Freshman, two Sophomores, two Juniors and two Seniors. All eight girls are put on a list. One from each class is designated as the ugliest and the other as the prettiest.

This list determines the entire social hierarchy of the school. These girls lives are ruled by the list. If they're on it, they are forever changed.

Through Sibohan's unique method of story-telling, I was able to see what life is like through each girl's eyes and care for each and every single one of them. Some, more than others, really reached inside me and tugged on my heart strings. My two favorites are Bridget and Danielle.

Danielle is proclaimed to be the ugliest Freshman. And it makes absolutely no sense. Though she's not a proud girl or even vain in the slighest, Danielle possesses a natural confidence that confuses me from the beginning. She has the confidence of a naturally pretty girl. Throughout the book, Danielle struggles to find herself and where she fits in to this new high school life. She has a boyfriend who won't stand up for, who tells her to be tough but doesn't tell her the things she needs to her. That the list doesn't matter. To Danielle, it really doesn't. This incredible girl is beyond that.

The other girl that really got to me is Bridget who is chosen as the prettiest Junior. Sweet and unassuming, Bridget is flattered by being chosen at first. But the blessing of being on the list soon turns to a curse as Bridget battles for control over herself, body mind and soul.

Normally, I would shy away from a book with this many points of view, but Siobhan Vivian writes in a way that doesn't confuse the reader. The structure of the novel is clean and simple, yet so many different story lines are woven together in a very complicated and unexpected way.

The most thrilling part of this book to me? The ending. It sent chills through me. Siobhan Vivian, I applaud you for writing a wonderful, intriguing novel. I have walked away from reading it, more inspired than ever to continue writing my own.

The List is to be released April 1, 2012 by Push.
I reviewed an ARC of this book that I received from the ALA Mid-winter conference.
Check out the book HERE on Goodreads.
Visit the author, Siobhan Vivian at her lovely website HERE.

A Fresh Start

Hey everyone!

I have formerly blogged under the title of Word Luster or Word Lust.
Due to some issues to my account, pretty much all of my  information on my blog and emails was erased. Rather than trying to rebuild that blog as it was before, I decided to start anew. Hopefully, you will all like the focus of my blog here as well. Actually, I hope you like it better.

On this blog, the focus is clear.. Amy Rose Writes -- or something like it.

I will feature some of my work, though only a little.
For the most part, I plan to focus on the insanity of trying to be a writer and also on the books and authors that inspire me every day to keep typing away. I hope you enjoy the posts. They will most certainly be silly and frivolous and maybe once in a while a tiny bit inspirational. We shall see. :-P

Anyhow, welcome to the blog and thanks so much for stopping by!

Oh, and p.s. there was a giveaway going on at Word Lust when all of my information was lost. I will start that giveaway fresh in the future.