Monday, July 16, 2012

That Moment

There’s a reason certain love songs speak to us—because I think they capture that moment—that MOMENT—when you look at someone and know they love you back, or at least that the interest is mutual, and that moment is so exquisite. It’s why we read good romance stories.  It’s certainly why I write them—all for That Moment.

You know the one. My fave author and BFF (in my head) Liza Palmer often addresses this through the one movie that most accurately sums up the hopes and dreams and wishes and anguishes of all the ladies everywhere: Sixteen Candles, in which Molly Ringwald lusts after Jake Ryan who doesn’t know she’s alive (oh but he does!), and she knows she doesn’t have a hope, and he’s got a hot and well-developed senior girlfriend and poor Molly is not only flat chested but a lowly sophomore and her awful family forgot her most special of birthdays. Oh my God! Who hasn’t been right there with Molly? Mein Gott, I spent my teenage years and most of my twenties feeling this way! But Jake Ryan—he notices her and by the time he’s leaning against his Porsche, waiting for her (!!!!) and he says “you” and she looks behind her! Looks behind her! Because he can’t be talking to me her! And she goes, “me?” and then he says, but she can’t hear him, “Yeah you.”

Oh my. That’s The Moment. In my stories, my character always learns and grows as a person, but my stories always, always try to capture That Moment. In fact, I think I write them with that ultimate scene in mind.

Sixteen Candles had a superb soundtrack, and That Moment is perfectly illustrated by the Thomson Twins’ If YouWere Here – who couldn’t listen to that over and over? I think songs do a particularly excellent job of summing up That Moment in 3 minutes give or take—but they’re lucky, they get beautiful sounds to make the job of telling the story of That Moment easier. A really good That Moment song is U2’s All I Want Is You (I melt inside when I hear this song). In my stories, I make it as difficult as possible for my love birds to get to That Moment, but when I do, I spend a lot of time on the scene because it’s just as much fun to write as it is to read. Here are two of Those Moments from a few different stories I’ve written: 

  • The guy arrives by train and they’re running to meet each other at the station, and she watches him walking toward her, and has to wait and think about him and look at him, and lust after him, and worship him, but she’s not sure he feels the same way back. After all she doesn’t want to presume anything and he’s so fine and wonderful (obvs), how could he love her back? But then he finally gets to her, and of course he loves her back! He’s Jake Ryan! (This is from my current manuscript.)
  • The love birds are separated by their own pigheadedness and due to other circumstances, my heroine is running away from other people. She runs out in the snow, poorly dressed (of course) and she’s running and can’t feel her toes, and all her boogers have frozen in her nose and just when she thinks she’ll be one of those human popsicles that litter Mt. Everest, only on the side of the road in an American town (because she would be lame like that), she finds the hero’s house and he’s there! With a fire! And although they’re not speaking to each other, he takes her in and nurses her back to feeling her digits, and she’s not sure how he feels but by golly she knows what a massive mistake she’s made by leaving him. And of course he tells her he loves her. In fact, That Moment comes and she doesn’t even believe him because he’s such a Jake Ryan, and he has to do something in order to show her—he has to throw away an object that had plagued their relationship, and then she sees he means it.
I have more in older stories, but in general, I try to build up to That Moment so it's as full of relief, realization, growth, and truth as possible. Do you love That Moment too? What are some of yours? Or favorites in movies or songs?

Oh, and can I just say that I did have a total Jake Ryan once, but he was basically repulsed by me or something--I don't know, but he never leaned against any Porsches for me. So that didn't turn out well, and now I write to make up for it.

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