Romance in Literature and on the Screen

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Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Pel » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:28 am

A place to discuss what romance means to us and how we like to feel when reading it in fiction or watching it in movies, primarily in the Twilight Saga, but also in general and how Twilight may compare.
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Chernaudi » Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:12 pm

I got the idea for this while I was talking to a friend on Facebook about some of the fan fiction that I've been writing with Twilight characters and OCs. In short, this is the point I wanted to get out, and I first did this on the love scene debate in the "worried about Breaking Dawn" thread:

"I think that love should be touching, sensual, tense, funny, slightly angsty, heart-racing, humorous and an expression of feelings for the ones we love."

I kinda like the way that Stephenie did the romance between Bella and Edward and Jacob, and how it was fairly chaste, but you felt the tension, and the events of BD are the releasing of that tension. As a guy, I enjoy the occasional ooey-gooy, gusy, passionate love scene, as long as it's tasteful and goes with the plot. In some of my own fan fictions, I have such scenes that are extremely racy and romantic, but I feel that the same romance can be channeled in a less sensual but equally as emotional manner, and I have scenes in my fan fics that I've been writing where romantic affection is expressed in chaste ways that still, for me at least, channel the same emotions and concepts.

I think that romance is one of the things that should make us feel good. It should make us happy, it should make us cry, laugh, laugh until we cry, and even occasionally laugh so hard that we spray whatever we're drinking out our noses. I feel that romance needs some angst for tension purposes, but it should also make us laugh every now and then--I think that romance needs a sense of humor sometimes, too.

I do think the we should feel touched by expressions of romantic love, no matter how chaste or no limits it is, or how big or small. Since this is a Twilight forum, I have to admit that I apprciate the gentle, chaste love and affection that Bella and Edward have for each other. And--please don't turn this into a debate about their personal lives--I can sense quite a bit of that between Kristen and Rob themselves, which is why I get upset when people rip on them. Their private lives aren't fodder for the tabloid press. However, if they are in love and in a relationship, more power to them. This does bring up a question, though? How would their real life romance help or hinder them on the set of BD? This may be the only RL question that I'll ask, since this is more about the fiction side of the deal, though it's a relevant one here. As an aside, I hope that Kristen and Rob's RL romance won't be the focus, since this is about Bella and Edward in the film, not Ms. Stewart or Mr. Pattinson.

Personally, I want to feel moved, I want to feel my pulse race, I want to feel what they're feeling. We all should feel that way when we read or watch romantic scenes, don't we all agree? Above all else, I and I think we as a whole want a warm feeling in our hearts and minds when two characters express their romance with each other, the feeling that we're being taken to a higher plane emotionally.

I do hope that the film does a good a job as the book did, and all the films have had their romantic moments like the novels did to me.

What does romance in fiction make you feel? How do you want to feel? What impact might it have on your real life? And, even though this is geared mostly at the Twilight Saga, what are other good romance novels and films that pull off great romantic scenes, grand or small, subtle or pronounced, what turns the romantic gears for you?

Anyone have thoughts or opinions on what I've written here thus far, or have thoughts or opinions of their own that they'd like to share. This is stuff that's personal to all of us, so the Great Discussions rules apply, as well as one more: only talk about what makes you comfortable. This is a personal subject for all, and one should be allowed to be as open or as closed as the individual posters' are comfortable with.

Above all else, have fun and a good discussion.
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Esme echo » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:09 pm

This may be a "DUH" comment, but male writers typically write love scenes with a different emphasis than female writers -- because men and women are different! I wouldn't say one style is better than another, but I tend to identify more closely with the female perspective (no big surprise there).

It's always easier for me to stay in a good book or movie with a love interest (what's going to happen next in this relationship??) but I'm very picky about the writer's goal in including romantic scenes. Soft porn (intended to titilate or arouse) is so prevalent in books, movies, and television programs . . . and it's so UNromantic!

Twilight grabbed me immediately because of the tension between Bella and Edward. Stephenie kept me hooked by expanding their relationship, allowing both characters to grow individually and as a couple, without reducing the tension to an excuse to hop into the sack. As I contemplate this, I'm thinking that sex is more emotional for women and more physical for men. E.g. when a boy kisses a girl, she thinks, "Ohh, he kissed me: he must really like me," and the boy thinks, "That felt amazing! I'm going to try that again--soon!" I'm not saying 100% -- maybe 70%. :lol: Am I wrong here, Chernaudi?

The important part of a romantic relationship for me is the happily-ever-after! All the encounters, tension, problem solving, resolutions, and more tension are worthless without the happily-ever-after. There would be no point. Perhaps because I'm an older married woman with children, my persepective is all about families. IMO there's no greater happiness than can be found in a loving family--so that's what I want for others when I read or watch a love story. It's not all about the sex, it's about become a committed team, working and growing together, overcoming adversity together, laughing and crying together.
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Chernaudi » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:19 pm

It also depends on what one's writing, their target audience, and what not.

I'm a male who usually writes from a female POV in my stories. In one story, I go into graphic detail in the love scenes about what they do and why they do it and how it makes the woman feel. In another, one would probably wonder when the characters are gonna make love or if it even ever happens at all! One's NC-17, and the other's PG-13. Guess which is which.

I know that it'll probably sound awkward that I'm a guy that writes from a woman's POV in a lot of my stories, but that's just how I do things. I tend to write about sensitive but strong, slightly tomboyish or "non-mainstream" women, who have basic wants and needs like every woman does--and most of them are human/vampire hybrids.

There's physical passion, and there's the emotion behind it. And affection doesn't have to mean full blown sex--Twilight should've taught us that. It can just be a kiss, an embrace, a touch, a caress. Just a couple doing things together as a couple.

It can be chaste or graphic. But the emotion has to be there. Otherwise, it's just porno smut. Do we as romance readers only want that? I don't think so :)
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Alphie » Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:23 am

I'm liking where this discussion is starting to go and I hope that we can get more people in here to talk about it! I'm kind of torn here. I like the build up of romance where the small touch, the quick embrace, the long look all speak volumes and the emotions and feeling are the basis for the romance. But I also do like my fair share of what I call plain, old fashioned, smut. Now, smut for the sake of smut is not what I like. But I do like many books that are a far cry from Twilight! (Black Dagger Brotherhood, anyone?)

Why is this? I haven't figured it out yet! I simply adore old fashioned romance like Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell. When I think of my favorite romance movies of all time I always include Somewhere in Time and now I've become addicted to The Young Victoria! I love the sophistication and the elegance and the proper way in which things were done. The fact that the touch of a woman's hand in his drives a man insane makes my little heart just flutter! But I also love reading about the heat of the passion and how two lovers can't hold back their need any longer. (I do feel that I need to clarify that while I can read that stuff, I do have issues watching it in films. The love scenes in the Notebook made me a little uncomfortable! But I could read that stuff with no porblems. What's with that?)

Anyway...

I also feel that there is a difference when you read a romance story written by a man vrs one written by a woman. Men tend to be a little more clinical in their description of a romantic moment than women do - not elaborating for pages on the emotion behind the kiss, but rather touching on the emotion and dealing more with the set up or consequences or description. Does that make sense? I don't mean to sound sterotypical, but women authors tend to focus more on the emotion than male authors.

Likewise, as a fan fic wirter I have spent a good deal of time writing from the point of view of the opposite sex. I'm female and yet my most popular fan fictions were told from the point of views of Remus Lupin, Edward Cullen, and Jason White (Superman's son from Superman Returns). All men, all with oddities where they think the woman they love can't possibly love them back, and all of them quite insistent on doing whatever it takes to make that woman safe, even from himself. I got pretty good feedback, but I was told on a few occasions that I let my male character think and behave and feel too much like women. I have male friends in all three fandoms correct me on the "a guy would NEVER do that" moments from time to time. I wrote one romantic fan fiction a LONG time ago where I tried very very hard to think like I was a man. The fan fic came out rather hot and steamy and a bit more blunt than I ever expected. I used words I never had used before in a fan fic and was stunned. It didn't seem "real" when I tried to edit it down and make it less aggressive sounding. The same scene, were it told from the girl's PoV would have been rather romantic and passionate. Yet from the male PoV it was so in-you-face steamy.

So it begs the question - Are female writers capable of writing honestly from a male PoV when dealing with romance without making the men overly feminine? And the same could be ask visa versa. Are male writers capable of writing from a female PoV without stripping them too much of their femininity?

And I'm still wondering why I like the unspoken passion of costume drama just as much as the hot and steamy passion of a traditional romance novel.
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Fighting fate » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:59 pm

I agree with whats been said, i can enjoy reading or watching romantic scenes as long as the emotions behind the passion are belivable and genuine. It does get very awkward when watching a scene in a movie that suddenly turns "romantic", but i too have never had a problem reading it, though i couldnt enjoy to read a story filled with nothing but meaningless sex. When the emotion and love is developed into a story, giving it more substance, reading or seeing a rather racy scene is even more enjoyable because the moment becomes filled with tension and intensity. Those are the things that peak my interest and gets my heart racing.Thats why i believe so many people love twilight, the story isnt about a girl and a boy, whose relationship will lead to nothing but sex, but in reading twilight you follow Edward and Bella along as they realize that they are perfect for eachother in every way shape and form. You get to see them fight the outside forces that seek to bring them down, you get to see them struggle with their own internal conflicts, and face the dilemas created by their vampire/human relationship, but you also get to see all the tender heart warming moments between them. You literaly watch them fall in love, so when romance is infused into their story, it is that much more special and meaningful. It just has so much more meaning when your reading a story and the intensity is litteraly oozing from the page, for me at least. So i guess im saying smut can be enjoyble ;) , when used in moderation, and it has the emotions to back it up.

Now to answer your question Alphie: Are female writers capable of writing honestly from a male PoV when dealing with romance without making the men overly feminine? And the same could be ask visa versa. Are male writers capable of writing from a female PoV without stripping them too much of their femininity?

I think that female and male writers can write believably from the other perspective, but i dont know about honestly. I mean its hard to classify what is an honest creation of the male or female's feelings towards romance, and what is not. It varies from person to person i think. Im sure that there are some men out their who play the more "feminine" role in their relationship, and would find no problem expressing their emotions like a woman would, and it goes the same way for women who take the more "manly" role in their relationship. Im sure its not as big as a challenge to write for the gender you are, because it comes more natuarlly then anything else. We all know what we individually want when it comes to romance, so ofcourse your gonna infuse what you know into the characters you write about. Thats why im sure its rather difficult to be sure that your writing a true represnetation of what the opposite sex wants when it comes to romance. So i guess it all comes down to the writers ability to make it as believable as possible for their readers. I know my english teacher once said that when he read the Harry Potter books, he could tell from the style of writing and from the things the male characters did and said, that it was written by a woman, and my boyfriend has told me many times, when i forcibly read twilight to him, that the male characters in SM story dont act like any man that he has ever known. But i had no problems what so ever accepting SM male characters as true men. So i guess its all about the perspective of the reader and how they relate to the characters on a personal level, what they think is too feminine for a male character and whats too manley for a female one. But i do think it is very possible to write a story convincingly enough that both sexes will be happy with the finished result.
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Chernaudi » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:04 am

I'd say if one wants meanlingless sex, watch/read a porno.

And the love scenes need not to be graphic either to convey what's happening. I mean, look at Remember Me and what seems to be planned for Breaking Dawn. Both will be PG-13 rated (Remember Me was PG-13), and there was emotion and physical loved conveyed without excessive nudity.

I may be a guy writing fan fic, but I don't feel like writing porno, and I try only to get into the physical stuff to let the reader know what's going on and how the physical interaction ties in to the emotion. Of course, I've consulted with women FF authors on how best to do this, so I hope that that helps. Of course, I can't really provide any solid stuff yet, as I have only four chapters of one of my fan fics on Twilighted, but hopefully in the future, I'll get some more stuff up very soon.

I just wonder if anyone else has had issues with writing stories from the POV of a character from the opposite sex.
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Esme echo » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:06 pm

I think the biggest problem with explicit sexual scenes in books -- no matter what the author intends, or whether he/she thinks the sexuality has adequate emotional justification -- is that such detail can become addicting, leading vulnerable readers to preoccupation with sexuality, and even to the "smut" that's been described in this thread.

I do not believe that any book's detailed love scene -- explicit or not -- is as riveting as a person's own imagination . . . which is why sexual tension is such a lure in books. After all, what does a reader gain from an explicit love scene? Someone else's idea of what constitutes good sex -- and very possibly images they don't want in their head. However, if the love scene is suggested rather than detailed, readers can imagine something perfect from their own persepective -- or not, as they wish.

As an example: Bella and Edward on Isle Esme. I think Stephenie did a masterful job of presenting a joyful honeymoon (discounting Edward's self-loathing, of course!) by leaving a lot to our imagination. Adding more detail than she did was entirely unnecessary, and would have reduced the story to a vehicle for self-arousal -- which is why people read explicit sex scenes: they enjoy the physical sensation of imagining the action.
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby Fighting fate » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:45 pm

Though your imagination can be much more exciting and enjoyable then anything that is spelled out for you in a book, and trust me i do at times love filling in the blanks, but other times i just like to sit back and follow where the author is leading me, like really get lost in what im reading, whether its romantic or not. Like if it were a big fight scene or car chase, i like those kind of details to be described to me thoroughly, otherwise i may be left a little confused about whats going on.

In Stephanie Meyer's BD, i am also one of those people who think she did a beautiful job. So many people have different ideas of how Bella's and Edward's honeymoon should have went... i thinks she gave just enough detail, like pillow bitting, feathers, and headboard breaking*squeels* to know exactly whats going on, but vague enough that everyone can fill in the rest with their imaginations. Of course at first i was left a little wanting, building it up in my head and all that, but when you think about it, theres no other way to have done this and keep it respectable, yet romantic. So i think she did a fantastic job with it.
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Re: Romance in Literature and on the Screen

Postby lulu » Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:45 pm

wow, this is really interesting and i really like this topic. :) i also don't have a lot of time to write, so sorry, this will likely be a little disjointed and have errors.

what i love about reading and watching romance (pg-13) is that it makes me think, "oh, that's so beautiful, they're so perfect for each other and i want them to survive all the crap life gives and be with each other forever." -essentially. i am a HUGE romantic and i get very personally down when i am taken on a fictional journey where they don't make it or one dies or something. i almost can't handle it.

i am in my late 20s and have been married for almost 10 years. i am unusual (unfortunately, it seems) in that my husband and i are totally devoted to each other. we literally are each other's best friend and confidant. we face the world together, we try to see each other's POV and work out differences quickly and thoroughly because we don't even think the word divorce--we are both in this forever (as in after this life). we are lovers and we try to keep intimate love only to each other, which is why both of us avoid smut/porn. yes we fight and sometimes it's as passionate as the way we love, but we recognize that we are two different people and will inevitably disagree. i wanted to say all that to explain where i'm coming from.

anyway, i have read many M rated stories and there was a time that i read them thoroughly and a time that i skimmed over the too-graphic scenes. the problems i felt when i read the graphic scenes were many. first of all, lots of times those sex scenes are often too perfect and it makes people expect that perfection. i saw that that could be a wedge in our relationship. also, i often times thought in my mind, "i really hope some inexperienced teen isn't reading this, it will be so unfair to their partner in the future." the truth is sometime sex doesn't work out and if you're mature about it, that' ok! secondly, it made me focus on the wrong thing. what i love about a beautiful romantic pg-13 story/movie is that i get so caught up in their lives and love and then it ends promisingly and i'm left seeing their beautiful relationship, which was expressed partially physically, and i think about how hubs and i feel that way and it leaves me wanting to seek him out and celebrate that love that we are blessed to have. it puts the focus back on our relationship and makes me want to be better to him and work harder for us and love each other more fully--emotionally and physically. -but when i'm 'watching' someone else have sex (in a movie or book), the focus is 'that's hot, where are they going to go with this.'

i don't know, i might be in a small percentage with this, but i love romance because of how it focuses my thoughts back to my relationship and strengthening that real life thing. i don't love romance so that i can try to experience love and passion in my mind through others.

as for male/female authors writing other points of view, it doesn't bother me when it's close enough. there are times i notice that it's rather unlikely that a man or woman would think that way, but i get so wrapped up in stories it's pretty easy for me to move forward. it did get me interested though and i began asking hubs to describe how he thought and felt during certain moments. ;) i always knew we were different, but yes it is quite a big difference! at least our different roads are still taking us to the same place.

p.s. reading the twilight series actually changed my philosophy on physical love, in a great way, and made our marriage better. this all happened without seeing actual sex scenes. i think that's a pretty big deal and shows how influential romantic stories can be even while keeping them chaste.

i hope that all made sense. feel free to ask me to clarify if needed.
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