Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Melt Your Heart

Hello, Trans Canada Romance Writers! I’m so glad to have a chance to visit today and many thanks to Darlene for the invitation. When asked how I would define my style as a writer, the first word that comes to mind is emotional. I’m always drawn to characters and stories where there are opportunities to peel back layers and move readers. These are the kinds of moments in love stories where you can practically feel your heart melt. How do writers achieve such unforgettable scenes? I can’t speak for all, but am excited to share with you the qualities I value most in such moving scenes.

Authenticity: A deeply romantic scene works beautifully when the dialogue sounds real rather than forced. We’ve all heard bad pick up lines, trite lyrics that give us tooth cavities, and Hallmark cards that could be poured over pancakes. No matter how flowery the language, it doesn’t touch our hearts because it doesn’t sound real. The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks has great authentic dialogue that feels natural and organic. In a scene in which Noah, the male lead character, is reunited with his long, lost love, Ali, their realistic and compelling conversation goes like this: Noah: “You’re different.” Ali: “What do you mean?” Noah: “Just the way you look. Everything.” Ali: “You look different too, but in a good way.” Noah: “You know, you’re kinda the same though.” This simple exchange in a row boat is so powerful for what is said and isn’t said. You can feel the characters grappling, in real ways, with how to deal with the return of their long denied emotions.

Vulnerability: There is nothing more powerful when two characters open up to each other. Saying “I love you” is scary… and it does make the characters vulnerable. But a strong romance writer knows to go further and strip away the walls the couple has put up to protect themselves. A scene that melts my heart usually has an almost confessional feel to it. The man and woman trust in each other completely and let down their guard. Vulnerability means that in a ‘melt your heart’ scene, a character should admit to mistakes, flaws, and regrets. And we love them all the more for owning their past. Jane Austin did an amazing job with this when she wrote the unforgettable proposal scene where Mr. Darcy tells Miss Elizabeth Bennett that although he’s tried, he can no longer resist and must admit his love for her, even though, by doing so, it goes against the expectations of his family, society, and even himself. If only his heartfelt confession had moved Elizabeth! However, we wouldn’t have had the wonderful story of Pride and Prejudice if she’d believed that quickly. Television writers also do a wonderful job in creating such moments for their characters. For example, The Gossip Girls’ main characters, Chuck and Blair have an interaction that moved me to tears. Chuck to Blair: “I’m sorry for losing my temper the night you told me Louis proposed to you. I’m sorry for treating you like property. I’m sorry for not waiting longer on the Empire State Building. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I loved you when I knew I did. Most of all, I’m sorry I gave up on us and you never did.” Wow. MELT.

Honesty: Billy Joel devoted an entire song to it. His lyrics are simple and straightforward and say it all. Honesty, he sings, is mostly what people need to hear and in the case of romance, that means our readers. Heartfelt scenes are sincere and create chances for characters to speak the truth. There is nothing more powerful than hearing a couple stop misleading each other, or themselves, and reveal how they actually feel. No sugar-coating. Here’s an example from one of my favorite movies, As Good as It Gets. In it, a man with OCD, Melvin, breaks out of his comfort zone to woo a stressed single mother and waitress, Carol, who’s dealing with her son’s emotional challenges. Melvin: I’ve got a really great compliment for you, and it’s true. Carol: I’m so afraid you’re about to say something awful. Melvin: Don’t be pessimistic, it’s not your style. Okay. Here I go: Clearly, a mistake. I’ve got this, what- ailment? My doctor, a shrink that I used to go to all the time, he says that in fifty or sixty percent of the cases, a pill really helps. I *hate* pills, very dangerous thing, pills. Hate. I’m using the word “hate” here, about pills. Hate. My compliment is, that the night when you came over and told me that you would never… all right, well, you were there, you know what you said. Well, my compliment to you is, the next morning, I started taking the pills. Carol: I don’t quite get how that’s a compliment to me. Melvin: You make me want to be a better man. Carol:…that may be the compliment of my life. Melvin: Well, maybe I overshot a little, because I was aiming at just enough to keep you from walking out. This emotionally honest scene melted every moviegoer’s heart and won Jack Nicholson an academy award for Best Actor for this heart-tugging performance.

GIVEAWAY!
I would love to hear your thoughts about writing these scenes or your picks for best ‘Melt Your Heart’ moments in movies/books/TV.
Post in the Comment Section below to be entered to win a print or digital copy (your choice) of my March Harlequin Heartwarming release HIS KIND OF COWGIRL. Darlene will choose the winner and announce it here. I’ll be in touch once I have your information! Thanks so much for hosting me today!

About Karen
Award-winning author Karen Rock is both sweet and spicy—at least when it comes to her writing! The author of both YA and adult contemporary books writes red-hot novels for Harlequin Blaze and small-town romances for Harlequin Heartwarming. A strong believer in Happily-Ever-After, Karen loves creating unforgettable stories that leave her readers with a smile. She enjoys returning to her teaching roots when speaking at regional and national writing conferences and interacting with other writers. She has a Master of Fine Arts in English and has continued to learn and grow professionally through her work with YA co-author, fellow romance author, friend and sister-in-law, Joanne Rock. When she’s not writing, Karen is an avid reader who’s typically immersed in three different books at a time, all in different genres. She also loves cooking her grandmother’s Italian recipes, baking, Christmas (no need to specify—she loves every bit of it), and having the Adirondack Park wilderness as her backyard, where she lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat who keep her life interesting and complete. Learn more about her at http://www.karenrock.com or follow her on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/karenrock5

Would he still love her…if he knew? 

Tanner Hayes smashed Claire's life to pieces when he chose the rodeo over her ten years ago. And now he'd wrecked her truck! Fantastic. She'd lost her husband, the family ranch was mired in debt, her father was recuperating from a stroke and her son was being bullied. Why not throw a reckless bull rider into the mix? 

All she'd wanted was a safe, stable life. But with Tanner back in town—and staying on her ranch—nothing was safe, or under control. Not the feelings she'd fought so hard to forget. Not the son she was determined to protect. And certainly not her long-held secret… 

http://amzn.to/1QDCK1w

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post. My wrench your heart moment in movies is at the end of the Notebook when he crawls into bed with her. Makes me cry each time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that moment, too, Susanne! I tear up just thinking about it... such a profoundly beautiful moment for one of my favorite love stories of all time!

      Delete
  2. Hi Karen, thank you for being our special guest today and for sharing your post on emotion. I have a copy of His Kind of Cowgirl and can't wait to read it!
    I'd have to agree with Susanne on The Notebook. That movie is the best,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Darlene :) Thank you so much for hosting me, today! I'm honored to be on Trans Canada Romance Authors and appreciate getting to meet everyone.

      Delete
  3. Dear Karen: Thank you for the insight into Melt your heart moments. How fun for you to have a sister-in-law who shares your passion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Gini! It's definitely fun, and a blessing, to have a family member and dear friend have the same passion - though we have to remind ourselves not to talk shop at family functions - lol

      Delete
  4. Hi again Karen! My fave my movie has been Love Story and you know why! However, the one that I watch over and over these day's has been Dances With Wolves. I love the ending scenes when he returns to Stands with a Fist and she run's thru the snow to him, they hug, kiss, and tumble in the snow to reach each other. I can picture Doug an I doing that scene with out trying!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I do know why!! And Dance with Wolves- wow- I am so glad you mentioned that one. It's always been one of my favorite movies and I haven't watched in a while, silly since I own it, but I'm going to fix that tonight :)

      Delete
  5. Thanks for the examples of heart-melting scenes. One of my favorites is the dance scene from HOPE FLOATS where Justin tells Birdie that a dance is just a conversation between two people and he reminds her to breathe. They don't even talk but through their body language you see their communication and the deepening of their relationship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooooooh! Those are the kinds of genius scenes that makes me want to read and watch and write! Thank you for sharing the beautiful moment, Linda :)

      Delete
  6. Wonderful post, Karen. One of my favorite scenes is a movie one, in Notting Hill, when secondary character Max picks up his wheelchair-bound wife Bella and puts her into the car for the "chase scene" because he's not about to leave her behind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so tender!! A beautiful moment :)

      Delete
  7. Great post, Karen! I, too, am mesmerized by Mr. Darcy...although I confess to a real "thing" for Matthew Macfayden....when he stands in the rain, those droplets pouring down his face and Lizzy is so hell bent on bringing him down...Oh, the tragedy of it all! Fantastic stuff here from all your readers, too. I'm with Linda with the Hope Floats scene. Butter. Melt to butter.

    ReplyDelete