Friday, March 06, 2009

Update on Novel: Emotion and Culture

I'm finally cutting loose in my novel. I really had to allow myself to be brave and transparent and emotional in Wind Follower. Sometimes I'd write a scene and get very ashamed because it was such an intimate scene. But that seems to be my talent in writing: writing a story that is very intimate. (I just have to watch my pacing.)

It's hard to do this because deep-felt emotional pain isn't what some folks want in their fantasy. I keep telling myself, "You're going to get slammed for this." So I don't enter fully into the story. Or at least I haven't been.

But now I feel it. I'm breaking through, breaking away from stiff-upper-lipped ness and baring all the emotions. In this case I want to really show the unraveling of my main character, and to show him veering off. Not into madness but into a kind of self-willedness. He's right, of course. And that's what I like: a character who is totally right by standards of divine law and yet who simply doesn't know how to handle the battle he's fighting against the bad guys. I like these characters because -- honestly, I'm being very vain and honest here-- I've been in situations where I KNOW I am right...but where my anger at the stupid folks who can't see the light just produces absolutely nutty behavior on my party. I am way nasty when I'm right, and waaay nastier when the person I'm dealing with is cruel or smug. And this is the kind of situation where my main character in Constant Tower finds himself. He loses his way. And yet, I don't think readers will dislike him. He is so plainly right in his cause against genocide...and so utterly immature in how he deals with the situation.

Weirdly, I was watching a channel last night that I usually don't watch -- hubby was at a life modeling class and I was waiting for him to return, plus I was way too pooped to get up and turn the channel. And of COURSE, two interviews on two shows totally spoke to my situation. In one the British screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire (which I hope to see now that I have some money coming) says (paraphrased) "When I got the book Q&A on which the movie would be based, it was a collection of stories. I couldn't figure out how to make it a novel because a novel is like a train on a track roaring along. So I went to India to understand India...and realized that India is over the top. The colors are over the top, the movies are over the top. And here was I a stiff-upper-lip repressed Britisher trying to write this novel. I realized the story had to be over the top. So I just let loose."

Ah! How I grinned with joy, then! Because, as you all know, that's been my trouble with my writing. I want to be over the top. But sometimes I'm pretty repressed.

So then after this they interview the producer of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. He's east Indian. A very nice guy. And in the course of the interview, he's asked, "Why do Bollywood movies do so badly in Hollywood and vice versa?" He said, "Indian movies have dancing, etc." Basically, he said they were over-the-top. And American movies have a different ethic, feel, emotional standard, norm, more, craft. You know what I mean (what he means) all those creative cultural words. Then he said (again, am paraphrasing.) "A movie like Slumdog Millionaire would never make it in India, but that he was trying to do movies that fit into hollywood, fit into india, and also fit into a new multiculti world cinema kind of thing."

That made me smile. The new multiculti ethic of film-making is something we artists are aiming for. The western repressed standard must give way. Soon, at least in some quarters...emotion will reign.
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