The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, March 21, 2005

Yearlong Writing Program 3-20-05

We're talking about the heart chakra still, and will be for a while. Wounds to this area probably are responsible for more human damage than anything else, but the healing of the wounded heart is the source of our popular love stories (from "Casablanca" to "Hitch") as well as the linchpin that holds together any decent character portrayal. Even in something as superficial as a James Bond movie, the fact that Bond is incapable of forming genuine human relationships has been subtextual in the entire series. Those who don't understand this mistake the glamorized sexuality and gambling for a desirable lifestyle, and miss entirely what Ian Fleming, or fine actors like Connery and Brosnan were doing with the character. YOu must understand the heart, and how it interacts with the other levels of our lives, to be able to write a character convincingly...or to be a writer of any substance at all.
What ARE our core emotional needs? Security and affection rank high, friends, very highindeed. "Everyone feels alone and afraid: is a core tenant of Lifewriting. "The only question is: what do you do with your lonliness and your fear?" For me, a lifetime of martial arts practise helped me to cope with childhood trauma. Some of it still remains. Oh, well. Loneliness? I surround myself with family, and they are the gem of my existence. I am so incredibly grateful to those who have loved and supported me over the years--I have no words. That's me, and the wounds in those arenas have played out over the course of my life in many, many ways.
What are your favorite films? Ifwe measure by box office, GONE WITH THE WIND is an eternal winner, a story of love set against hte backdrop of a nations near-death throes. It is a tragic love, because it symbolizes a dying dream_-the dream of an American aristocracy. That the dream required the subjugation of an entire race of people is never really looked at--we are busy being hypnotised by the trials of Rhett and Scarlett, and so we should be. It is a classic,wonderful story, and I stronly recommend it to either of the two folks left in the world who haven't seen it. What about Titanic, described by James Cameron as "Romeo and Juliett meet an iceberg"? You know, I barely know a writer who doesn't think he could have imporved that script, andthey are probably right. But I also don't know a single one who could have created that film. That Cameron placed a beating human heart athte core of all that spectacle is an astounding and humbling feat. The love between Jack and Rose spans class and time, enables us to see every level of that ship, gives us reason to care, makes us flinchaway from teh inevitable disaster, made millins of viewers feel the pain of Jack's sacrifice. Yet, as with GWTW, there are major problems--Rose drives me crazy. Her self-centered, slutty, arrogant, thoughtless behavior costs Jack his life. All she had to do was sneak off with him after the boat docked. Butno, she had to rub her fiancee's nose in her panty-dropping. When he responded with violence, people all over the world thought him a monster. Really? If her fiancee had done the same to her, and she had slapped or struck him, or even shot at him, audiences would have cheered. There was a massive double-standard going on there, but despite everything, we cared. She was a childish, spoiled little tramp-butwe cared. Her behavior was believable for a woman of her age and inexperience. And as the Titanic went down, because Cameron had us by the heart, we cared.
The heart hooks us. It is a simple as that. Find the heart at the core of your story, and you will hook us too. More later!

1 comment:

hcg said...

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