Friday, April 20, 2012

When it works without a formula

     So I was thinking after I posted yesterday about that formula of all formulas and I thought about all the stories that worked without it.  I thought first about The Help.  Girl did not get boy. He turned into a real racist jerk and dumped her hard.  But girl did get job of her dreams and Abilene got the job of her dreams and Minnie too. They all got some kind of freedom.  And freedom trumps cute boy everytime. Sorry cute boys, but it's true. So even without a satisfying love story, I feel satisified at the end of that. I leave that story feeling filled and not cheated.
      But lets look at Gone with the Wind.  Huge hit.  I've read it 3 times. (Southern heritage, sorry.) Girl falls in love with wrong boy, pines and pines and pines, get's super hot other guy instead.  Couldn't care less.  Overcomes everything, get's rich, but can't appreciate what she has, so she loses super hot guy.  Now  have to admit, I always leave this story, movie or book, feeling cheated. I want to scream through the streets, 'Wake up Scarlett!  Wake up you idiot!  Go get yer man back!'.  But alas, she never wrote a sequel.   But why was that book such an amazing success?  I'm not sure that I can answer that, because if I sat down right now to write a book similar to Gone with the Wind, it would be a disaster I'm sure of it.  Let me know if you figure it out though.
     Okay, one more and this is just for any male writers/readers out there.  Star Wars.  Yes, I did it, I dared to bring it up.  Let's go back in time to the first one.  Luke Skywalker, so darn cute.  And Leia with her buns. Who could resist that hair?  Love story made in Sci Fi heaven.  But then? What? They're brother and sister?  Oh my heck, can you get grosser? Is anybody still traumatized by that?  Leia does end up with Han Solo, which hello, makes up for quite a bit, but poor Luke.  And did he ever get a girl?  No!  Never did.  He hangs out with the Ewoks.  Tragic people.  Really.  And don't get me started on Anakin/Darth.  Now please don't send me mean emails, but I'm just looking at this from a formula perspective. As an epic saga? A masterpiece.  As a satisfying love story? Eh.
     So, as you write your story, you can use the beloved formula, or you can toss it to the curb and kill off your cute guy (Titanic anyone?). Or you can jump into the formula with both feet and enjoy the soft landing of your happily ever after.  Your choice.

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