Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chemistry and canon

All right guys, I don't mean to go back to television (again!) but I need to for an example: Have you ever watched a TV show where the OTP doesn't have as much chemistry as another pairing?  I feel like there are two types of people: those who follow canon no matter what (because it's canon) and those who side with chemistry, whether it's canon or not.

I'm one of the latter people.

It's frustrating to hear that canon wins because canon is true.  It's even more frustrating when the canon couple has absolutely no chemistry - even if the acting and writing is good.

Chemistry sells a couple to me, whether in television, movies, and especially books.  I've read books where I've been like, 'Why do you like this guy?' and I've read books where I had to fan myself off because the chemistry was just so smoking.  (Great examples of chemistry?  Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and Bloodlines by Richelle Mead.)

In a way, it's easier for us writers to infuse chemistry into our couples, with little glances, touches. The difficult part is trying not to force it, trying not to smack your reader over the head with a sign that says, "YOU MUST SHIP THIS PAIRING BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT IS TRUE."  I guarantee that in nearly all cases, if you write good chemistry, they will ship that couple.

Television has it harder because they may not originally start out with a character's true OTP.  Then, when they're writing one, they may pick an actor/actress without testing chemistry.  A lot of the times, it's like: "Oh, well they're both good looking, it'll work."  For that, I throw the BluRay of The Tourist at them.  The two most beautiful people in the world didn't have chemistry together (although, I maintain if Johnny Depp looked the way he did in Public Enemies, my screen would melt off because of the hotness).  You can't expect to random actors to magically have chemistry just because they're supposed to be a couple.

Then we get to the other side of the coin.  Television producers also don't expect when two characters (actors) who aren't OTP have chemistry.  I absolutely hate when they're in denial about it (cough Penny and Sheldon cough).  I love when the chemistry is so obvious that the writers have no choice but to write something in regards to it (cough Jeff and Annie cough).

Sometimes, as a writer, you intend for one couple to happen when the chemistry between your hero/heroine is stronger with someone else, and before you know it, they've already gotten together so when you try to change it and fix it, you can't because it feels wrong.

Go with it.  These are the best stories to tell because you, the writer, don't even expect it.  It's why nearly all my shipping isn't canon. 

And if people ship your hero/heroine with someone else, let them.  You can't fight chemistry. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Once Upon A Time there was Alcatraz and more

All right, I'm not a huge television person, but there are some shows that I've become absolutely obsessed with.  As always, if there is a hockey game on, that trumps everything else.  However, these shows come in close seconds (and thirds, and fourths, and you get it!).

1.  Hockey

2.  Once Upon A Time As I've mentioned in the previous post, I love Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold and the chemistry he has with Emma.  You have no idea how long two weeks felt without an episode last Sunday.  If you like Disney, adult retellings of classic fairytales, romance, adventure, action, and Robert Carlyle, I highly recommend this.

3.  Alcatraz  Okay, as you guys know, I love Alcatraz.  The place.  It's rich with history and such a fascinating place to explore, whether you're there for the prison, the inmates, or your parents and/or school forced you on the tour.  I like the show, but initially, I thought it would track real inmates disappearing from 1963 and reappearing now.  How interesting would that be?  Infusing sci-fi with history with crime.  Oh my gosh, I'm salivating just thinking about it.  But it's not.  Every inmate is a character.  As I writer, I get it.  It's easier to make up your own plotline, get everything to fit, when actual inmates will force them to omit things, change things, or make up things.  But I really, really wish they would have done it.  I love this history and it would have been so great to see it.  I definitely still like it, I watch it, but whenever I see Ernest Cobb on the show, I still scream, "He looks so much like Alvin Karpis, it's ridiculous!"

4. New Girl  I love every character on this show.  No joke.  I love Jess (and her theme song).  I love Nick (I have the tiniest of crushes on him), Winston, Cece, and Schmidt (I have a much bigger crush on him).  It's kooky and cute, and I love that Jess is beautiful, the biggest dork ever, but she knows who she is and rocks it.

5.  Up All Night  I have every single season of Married with Children on DVD and still have marathons.  I love Christina Applegate, so once I saw the show and how funny it was, once I saw Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph, and it was on right after The Office, I was like, "I'm in."

6.  Smash  I've only seen one episode, but I love Katharine McPhee.  I love Anjelica Houston.  And when I saw Commodore Norrington (aka Jack Davenport) was a sleazy choreographer, I came aboard.  (Hahahahaha!)

Oldies but Goodies - Shows that I love watching and have been watching since the show began (most of the time).

1.  Bones  Probably my favorite show.  I'm literally counting down the days until it comes back on in April.  (This is how my mind works: Bones will be back on around the end of the Ducks' season.)

2.  House  I had to sit down after I read that it was canceled (this season will be its last).  At least I know without a doubt there will never be another House.

3.  Modern Family  More Married with Children goodness.  Each character - even the kids - is cast perfectly.  I laugh out loud through every episode.  I just - it's so, so great.  And smart.  It's hard to find television like this.

4.  The Daily Show/The Colbert Report  I remember when Jon Stewart took over The Daily Show from Craig Kilborn.  I remember when The Colbert Report premiered.  These shows helped shape my life and I feel so lucky that they're both still on and will hopefully remain on for a long time.

5.  South Park/Family Guy/American Dad  Animation where kids curse, nothing makes sense, and, in South Park's case, is smarter than it looks. 

6.  The Office  Okay, not going to lie.  I miss Michael ScottThe Office is not the same without him.  But Dwight and his kiss with the power of a thousand waterfalls saves the show.  I'm not sure I'd still watch if he wasn't on it.

7.  Glee/The Big Bang Theory  I don't have to watch these shows on the original air date but I'll probably buy them on DVD.

Shows that should still be on

1.  Community  I know it's technically not canceled, but how is it that Whitney and Are You There Vodka?  It's Me, Chelsea are both on, but this isn't?  I need some kind of resolution between Jeff and Annie.  It'd be cruel to make me wait!

So there you have it.  By the way, it seems like I watch a lot of television.  I really don't.  If anything, I buy shows on DVD and watch them during the summer.  Speaking of summer, notice that this list leaves out one of my favorite shows ever, True Blood.  That's because it's not on.

What are some of your favorite shows?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rumpelstiltskin and how to write a good hero

Two confessions: Number 1, I am currently reading a YA novel - which shall remain nameless - that annoys me, but not to the point where I can put it down and Number 2) I am obsessed with the ABC show Once Upon A Time, more specifically, Rumpelstiltskin.

So what do these two things have in common?

Well, the reason this book annoys me is because of two things: I hate one of the love interests (yes, as usual, there's a love triangle) and the heroine, which we'll call C, is lusting after her two interests in the same way.  Like, whenever they touch her, her body reacts in the same way.  The author tries to differentiate it, but I'm sorry.  It doesn't work.  The reactions aren't the same.

To me, this strikes me as impossible.  If you're falling for two different guys, your feelings and reactions for and to them will be different.  The way Johnny Depp makes me feel is way different than the way Robert Downey, Jr. makes me feel.  My body reacts differently.  The way they make me happy is different.  I'm attracted to different things about them.  Why?  Because they're two different people.

The way C feels about her two boys is the same.  Why?  Because essentially, the author writes the same character.  Both guys are hot, they're jealous, they make C feel hot.  What else?  Um, nothing really, because their characters aren't fully fleshed out.

As a reader, I'm supposed to sympathize with C.  But how can I, when her body gets all hot and bothered around these two guys?  I get that sex is on her mind.  I used to be a teenager.  I get it.  But I need more than hotness in a guy, and I need it even more in a character I'm supposed to fall for.  Because C equates these feelings with love, it makes me lose respect for her and I don't care what happens to her.

And regarding the first point?  I hate her Love Option 1.  He's jealous, selfish, and pushy.  He doesn't care that their love is forbidden and that she could get into deep trouble - possibly die - because of it.  He pushes her for information about her past when, quite frankly, it's none of his business.  And because C likes the guy, I dislike C.

So where does Rumpelstiltskin come in?

He's the perfect hero because he's not a hero.  He's not good looking (to the general population.  I find him delectable myself), he's manipulative, and he doesn't care about anyone but himself.  There's something creepy about him.  And yet, whenever I see him, my body responds to him.  Without giving you too much information, I'm drawn to the character way more than Prince Charming/David, or Graham/The Huntsman.

A hero is more than just eye candy.  He has to be, especially in books since we can't physically see him.  He has to have individual traits, flaws, and something that makes him unique.  He needs to be his own character.

I'm incredibly bias because I really like mysterious, brooding characters.  There's just something about them that attracts me.  Who cares if they're selfish when they have no problem owning up to it, and are probably even proud of it?  Who cares if they're not the best looking person out there?  That makes them way more interesting.  A bad thing to do when attempting to write a decent love-triangle is to make it lopsided, where every reader roots for the same guy.  The worst thing you can do is write a love triangle where the reader doesn't even care who the heroine ends up with because you don't care about her and her potential mates.