Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Voice theory – Emotion. Part 2

What I'm reading: Lay That Trumpet in our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy AND Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

What I'm working on: A scene in the middle of Slayer, and I’m beginning to stress about a finding a dark, paranormal junkie who’s willing to be a beta reader. Are you out there?

New words today: 0 (Big F&$#ing 0. Did I mention that I worked from 8 to 9:30 today? That's 8am to 9:30pm. My head just bounced off the keyboard.)

Continuing with the emotion theme…..

It’s much easier for me to come up with swept away books than it is movies. I read more books than I watch movies or TV, so by default I just find it easier.

However, I can’t decide whether it’s easier to be swept away in a book or movie. Really, it probably depends on the writing in both.

I’ve already said that I need raw-edged, real, heart-dropping, soul-soaring emotion in order to be swept away.

I got all that and more in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in J.K. Rowling’s mind-blowing series.

I fell in love with Harry and his friends when I read the first book. I wanted to be a wizard, not a muggle, and I became fully involved in a willing suspension of disbelief as I read the first three books.

However, it was the fourth one that I added to my swept away list. Those before and after were good, no, GREAT. But the fourth wove into my soul.

The fourth book is a demarcation between the innocence of childhood and the reality of adulthood. Don’t get me wrong, the monsters, evil and problems faced in the first three were real and terrible. I won’t deny that. But Rowling kicked it up with Goblet.

Not only is Harry thrust into a contest for which he is technically far too young, he’s also thrust fully into a world where the darkest threats of nightmares become real.

I think one of those demarcations of truly reaching adulthood – regardless of the age at which you do it – is coming to terms with the fragility of life. In Goblet, Harry witnesses Cedric’s cold-blooded death at the hands of Voldemort.

When I read the passage, the space around me became a vacuum and all the breathable air was suddenly gone. I remember lying on my bed one moment and springing to my knees the next with the book clutched tightly in my hands. I re-read. Surely, I had something wrong. You can’t just kill off the innocent.

But Rowling did. And that moment sealed the book as a swept away book for me. I’ve read that chapter again and again and each time the blow to my chest is just as hard.

Emotion. Rawness. Grief.

After the initial shock, I rocked myself on the bed as I cried. Not Cedric. Not evil like that – the real kind. The kind you can’t come back from.

It’s no secret that in addition to Rowling, I’m also a huge fan of J.R. Ward. (Yep, completely different genre.)

I liked her first books enough to eagerly purchase the sequels. But I liked the first ones from an intellectual standpoint – like I liked Ender’s Game. Great, unique premise. Masterful execution. Extraordinary imagination.

My favorite of Ward’s books, however, is Lover Awakened. It’s Bella and Zsadist’s story. In my opinion, Zsadist is the most tortured of her heroes. (That is compelling to me, too, on an emotional level. The dark, tortured hero will be my 4th or 5th installment of this series.)

While I loved Zsadist’s story (and it is Z’s story), the emotional grip for me had little to do with Zsadist and Bella. It was all about Wellsie. Such tragic, brutal loss. I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t read, but I will say I re-read the scene about which I’m commenting four or five times. Surely, it would change on one of the passes. This really wasn’t what was happening.

But Ward’s stories, like Rowling’s, don’t shy away from the painful emotions of life. They throw the horrors our way as well as they throw the happily-ever-afters.

Emotion. Rawness. Grief.

I want to write stories like that.


Katie Reus said...

I like HEA, who doesn't, but I also like to read about the struggle it takes for characters to get there. What's the point otherwise? I'll be honest, I've never read Harry Potter, but after reading about your experience, I think I'm picking up a few new books this weekend!

Dara Edmondson said...

I've never read a HP book, either. Right now, I'm up to my eyeballs in RITA entries. Also working on edits for an upcoming novel.