I'm totally going off (manu)script here. Our theme this month is supposed to be favorite holiday romance books, but I have to confess I don't have one. I don't think I have ever even read a holiday-based romance novel.
But holiday FILMS are another matter entirely. So I snuck off to Amazon to see if my favorite romantic Christmas movies are available as books.
Of course #1 is It's a Wonderful Life. There is no need to tout that film's virtues, but it wasn't ever a book. A Christmas Story isn't a romance. White Christmas is a romance, but it's not a book. And Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has a couple of romantic subplots, but they aren't the point of that story. The Holiday was, again, not a book.
Hmm. Well... One of my adult daughters told me her favorite Christmas movie is now Love Actually. Really? The one with the porn star stand-ins?
Not to brag, but my daughter is pretty sharp. And she was an English major in college. So I rented the film and re-watched it a couple years ago. I was stunned. I cried through the whole dang film! So many poignant romances all neatly packaged into one interwoven storyline? Brilliantly done!
Next question: was it ever a book? Um. Sort of.
If you go by the terminology that a script is called a book, as in actors are asked to memorize their lines and get "off book" during rehearsals, then yes. Love Actually is that kind of book. And it's a romance. It's a dozen romances. So I looked up the writer.
Richard Curtis is a British screenwriter, music producer, actor and film director, known for romantic comedies such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones' Diary, Notting Hill, Love Actually, and The Girl in the Café. Not a bad resume.
Okay. I'm totally cheating here. I own that. But if you have never seen the film, or saw it years back and were put off by a couple of the storylines, I urge you to watch it again. Yes, there are half-nude actors standing in for a porn film. But listen to their dialog - it's priceless. Especially the naked hero's comment after asking his set-mate on a date: "That was the most embarrassing thing I've ever done."
A recent widower calls his stepson "Ye wee motherless bastard" and we know the bond between them is growing stronger.
And there is the young man who, after having no success with women in
England, steps into an unbelievable fantasy in . Compared to
some of the other, heavier stories it's a relief to just giggle at this one. Wisconsin
And near the end when you hear the line "Just in cases," think of me. I'll be going on my fourth Kleenex by then.
So what does this have to do with writing? Everything. This screenplay, er, book, gives us an excellent example of how we can impart true emotion without dumping tons of back story explanations on the reader. It's lean. It's precise. We learn exactly what we need to know as we go along. Nothing more. And nothing less. And the way the different stories are seamless connected is a sign of genius. We should all aspire to write that well.