Thursday, December 11, 2008

They're Playing Our Song... And it ain't the Sesame Street Theme

Relationship with Newt Status: Newt's been "working late" at nights, so a Private Investigator has been hired to get the "money shot".

Okay, so writing romantic scenes. Hmmmmm.

Even just typing the above sentence, my face is suddenly turnip red. Wait, are turnips red? Let's discuss turnips instead. Do any of you have any good turnip recipes?

Okay, Okay. I digress. I approach romantic scenes in my book the exact same way. Just when the tension gets a little... palpable, my main characters always get sidetracked with the colors of rare and random vegetables. Now I am definitely not talking about the genre-type "Romancity Romance, with a side of romance", because my book is YA. But still... ummmm... they do ....

So to sit down, and actually put the scene on paper, I closed my eyes, inserted my i-pod and put the shuffle on the most unromantic music I could think of: "Sesame Street's greatest hits". Then I started randomly striking keys, in the hopes that some novel fairy would appear in my computer and arrange the letters the way they should be arranged. (As a side note, a computer fairy is of a very different species than an FTD. Facebook Transmitted Disease. Computer fairies are pretty benign.)

Once the scene was written, I closed that particular folder, and proceeded to ignore it for the rest of the year. When I finally read it again, it sounded less like two teenagers with mad crushes, and more like two five-year-olds in a sandbox, throwing toys at each other and eating dirt.

So I decided to take a lesson from the suave oldies of Hollywood's Golden Years. You can't go wrong with Omar Sharif, right? He had it goin' on, didn't he?

So I watched the video below. You only need to listen to the first 20 seconds.

And then I returned to my book- the romantic scene- and just when things start to heat up, my book's romantic lead says to the main character, in the spirit of Omar, "I am man, you are woman. Let's kiss."

My husband routinely disses musicals, because "Nobody just suddenly breaks out into song." But I learned quickly that some lines, like the "I am man, you are woman..." line, indeed, only sound good in song.

So then I turned to the decade that ultimately shaped my entire being, the endurable 80's. I turned on the romantic ballads from that decade, like "In Your Eyes" and "Don't You Forget About Me" and "I've Had the Time of my Life."

And the romantic climax of my book went through several crappy drafts, the final version sounding something like this: (I'm just going to call my main characters "Bill" and "Letty" since I don't want to spoil anything).

Bill: I gave you my heart and you gave me a pen.

Letty: Well, that's because you put me in the corner. Nobody puts Letty in the corner. Shut up and dance.

For obvious reasons, I had to find different music. I'm not going to give any spoilers to my book, but I will share the song I finally found that totally shepherd-ed me through writing the scene, and also inspired some of the dialogue in the heartbreaking climax.

So I finally finished the scene. But I will say, when I gave the novel to my Dad to read, I took out the schmaltzy scene, and replaced it with a few pages with the words, "One thing led to another, Yadda, yadda, yadda, blah blah blah."

Having your own father read a fictional romantic scene that his darling daughter wrote, is another level of an excruciating hell.


  1. What Brodi is saying is how she feels. She will read me a 'romantic' paragraph from her book where the two characters may kiss and then she will say to me: 'Oh man, it is so gushy, I don't think I should let kids read this.' All she mentions is a kiss or a thought of a kiss.

    And I don't think you can ever go wrong with a romantic line that says 'don't put Lefty/Baby in a corner.' That is hott!

  2. Um, so why do you have Sesame Street songs in your iPod?


    Okay, anyway, I'm glad to hear that you use/rip off your favorite music for your novels too. I've been wanting to do a post on my inspirational songs but I haven't figured out how to get them to play like you did. I'm a little computerley challenged.

    Writing a romantic scene is tough. I probably have to tweak and rewrite those more than any others. And I always listen to my favorite songs while I work on them.

  3. Bree- How can you not have Sesame street on your I-pod? Sesame Street is like, the longest running reality show in the history of television-
    hold on...
    Sam's trying to tell me Big Bird isn't real. Silly Sam. The only one who's not real is that Snuffleupagus.

    Oh, and as for getting the music on the blog- it only took me 48 hours straight to figure that out. I'll teach you!

  4. Maybe you can have your character cup his hand around something, oh I don't know, but I'm sure you'll think of something.

  5. Holy Cow! I actually like some of the music you listen to! I still think Rosemary Clooney is the best but this song might just compete with "Sisters" from White Christmas!

  6. Okay, could Omar Sharif have a more gorgeous voice. He could read the dictionary to me all night long and I wouldn't get sick of it. (Before I go any that really his voice or did they sub someone less- good-looking-but-more-gorgeous-voice in for his...?)