?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Living Loz
It makes the world go round... 
11th-Dec-2010 01:37 pm
Sky
Okay, so the thing is, while it isn't always, or even often reflected in my own fiction, I think the idea that 'great love stories must have a tragic ending' is a crock of shit.

I am very firmly of the 'Romeo and Juliet was at least partly a parody' persuasion --- and I still hate it. Everyone knows I think Wuthering Heights is horrible. Generally accepted public opinion on these texts annoys the hell out of me, because it's wrong. They were never intended to be seen as great romances and yet people still refer to them as such. Once again, even though it doesn't always show in my fiction, I think angst is massively overrated and shouldn't be seen as art above fiction not intended to make you want to gouge your heart out with an ice cream scoop.

Look, I haven't been what anyone could ever call lucky in love. It's mostly always been two miles to the left of me, with a neon flashing sign saying 'NO VACANCIES'. But I still believe in the power love has. It can be destructive, I know some people do bad, bad things in the name of love (that they would do anything, but they wouldn't do that), but really? Most people? Most of the time? I'd like to think love is a force of good in their lives. That there's more than one kind of love, and that this should be explored more often in fiction. That happy endings can be just as touching and memorable and emotionally honest as the ones that seek to cut to the bone.

But that's not DRAMATIC! Apparently, that doesn't make a GREAT STORY.

Why the fuck not? Who decided?

I choose to believe it's a lazy and unimaginative writer that thinks the only way to hold an audience is to get them in a strangle-hold and punch their guts. That it's wrong to think your ending is more valid if it makes people cry and wail rather than jump around and give clappy hands. Fiction doesn't have to be depressing as fuck to be good. It can be, do not get me wrong, I am not saying angst doesn't have its place, or that all endings must necessarily make you want to smile, or that joy should always be expected from fiction --- I'm just saying that a story doesn't have to encompass misery in order to be great. That, every once in a while, it'd be nice if the feel-good narratives of the world were as highly valued as the ones that do the exact opposite of make you feel tingly in your tummy. That, uh, you know, love is kind of lovely.

Because Tragedy? Is a terrible, terrible Steps cover of a great Bee Gees song. And isn't any better than every other form fiction can take just by virtue of being tragedy.

This post brought to you by a comment Matthew Graham made about Alex/Gene --- Yes, I think Gene and Alex were in love. But it was never going to be - because in the great love stories it never is --- because even though I don't ship it, this is SUCH A CROCK OF SHIT, OMFG.
Comments 
11th-Dec-2010 03:16 am (UTC)

I loathe Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights but not exactly beacause they have unhappy endings.

I don't think for one second that Shakespeare ever intended R&J to be a great love story. Romeo is besotted with another girl at the beginning of the play and then sees Juliet. They're young, stupid and the real play is about the tragedy of the feuding families imho. As to Wuthering Heights, the sort of love that would rather see the loved one miserable or dead rather than happy with someone else is no real love at all.

I love angst but really of the "we bloody well earned this happy ending" sort. Love often isn't that easy to obtain or easy to keep, in the face of RL stresses and strains and in the face of a society opposed to it, particularly in the case of many of the people we write about. Still, it's worth the fight.

You've lived through my rants before about how tragedy supposedly has more value than comedy and that pisses me off too.

It's what you do with a story, how you write it and interpret it that gives it value and Matthew Graham is full of it in more ways than one. Yes, I didn't watch the whole series but Alex/Gene is a great love story? Really? Then Graham failed in writing it.

11th-Dec-2010 03:23 am (UTC)
I don't dislike either because of the unhappy endings. You know that. If other people recognised why they were tragic endings... I might hate them both slightly less. With emphasis on the 'might'.

So, so few writers seem to focus on realistic strains and stresses of love; everything is exaggerated in fiction-land, and that is fine, but occasionally it would be nice for more of that 'sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things don't work out' angst would be used. With a clappy-hands ending, because, you know, clappy-hands.


11th-Dec-2010 03:20 am (UTC)
I just wanted to add that I hate Romeo & Juliet and I always thought I was the only one!

*high five*
11th-Dec-2010 03:24 am (UTC)
By no means the only one. I've heard there's a few of us. \o/
11th-Dec-2010 03:32 am (UTC)
This.

I have a tremendous fondness for certain kinds of angst, and I'm most prone to indulging it in fanfiction (because I feel more comfortable getting self-indulgent in fanfiction than in original stuff), but it's definitely not the only thing that's good. Tacked-on angsty endings can be just as cheap, flat, and frustrating as tacked-on happy endings, and you can do beautiful things with well-earned happiness.

And whoever is running around the BBC convincing all of the writers that unrequited love is endlessly interesting really needs to stop. Too many generally good shows get swallowed by the unrequited love plot that gets run into the ground.

That there's more than one kind of love, and that this should be explored more often in fiction.

This. Very much this. I tend to gobble up political themes the same way most of fandom gobbles up romance. (Political in the broad sense, not necessarily about specific real-world politicians or parties.) And one thing that's close to tempting me back to writing Doctor Who fic is that I really want to write more about love in a big-picture political and social sense. (Only I need to come up with physical details for the singing aliens.)Like you tend to get a lot of stories about romantic love, a little bit about family love and love between friends, and almost nothing about the kind of love that makes you stand up and risk your life so that people you've never even met can sleep at night without worrying about the knock on the door in the dead of night.

And I really don't like the "Romantic love is always and forever greater and more important than all other forms of love!" It still matters how you treat your family when you fall in love. It still matters how you treat your friends. It still matters how you treat the woman you just saw who's bleeding from the head. Romantic love can be wonderful, but it doesn't make it good and right to crap all over everyone else in your life.
11th-Dec-2010 04:40 am (UTC)
I also have a fondness for certain types of angst, clearly. :D

And whoever is running around the BBC convincing all of the writers that unrequited love is endlessly interesting really needs to stop.

WORD MCFUCKY WORD.

There isn't nearly enough fiction; fan and professional, that concentrates on all the many types beyond romantic. It's so frustrating.
11th-Dec-2010 03:55 am (UTC)
I embarrassed my mum by laughing most of the way through Love Story... so, yeah. I hear you :-)
11th-Dec-2010 03:58 am (UTC)

What, "love means never having to be able to act or write a decent screenplay say you're sorry" didn't do it for you?
11th-Dec-2010 04:04 am (UTC)
I agree with you.
That's one of the things I like about your writing, I can always count on it to be happy.
When a story has angst, drama or tragedy, what is interesting is to see how people/character can overcome it, stand up and keep going to find new ways of being happy. Isn't it how people are trying to live?
Some people are not meant to be, doesn't mean they have to be miserable about it. They just find somebody else to be happy with. How the world is supposed to work if it was the case? Not everybody get a full on passion/soul mate love doesn't mean they're not happy and in love.
A lot of great love stories exist. Jane Eyre had a lot of bad shit to deal with but she had her happily ever after too with her Mr Rochester! Mr Darcy won her Lizzy at the end!

Anyway, I totally agree with you and be delighted to read another happy work from you.
11th-Dec-2010 04:35 am (UTC)
I can always count on it to be happy.

You're either pulling my leg or you are not acquainted with a lot of my work. I'm dead depressing, me. I've written several ambiguously horrible endings, and a couple of non-ambiguously horrid ones. But that's just 'cause I'm a miserable git.

Yes, and yes to your examples (and I say this being someone who dislikes Jane Eyre. It's a Bronte thing.)
11th-Dec-2010 07:43 am (UTC)
I absolutely agree with you. ...in the great love stories, it never is.????

Bloke needs to get his head out of his backside. Gotta be honest, love is great, but hard enough in the real world that I don't need to read about it being OMG WOE & ANGST & IT CAN NEVER BE COS IT'S TWOO WUB shoved down my throat in fic.

*cough* Er. I shall now return you to your scheduled programme. *g*



Edited at 2010-12-11 07:43 am (UTC)
11th-Dec-2010 08:23 am (UTC)
Too much fiction thinks unrequited love is great fiction, great drama and... it's really not. Really.
11th-Dec-2010 08:16 am (UTC)
I am so with you, but I just have to say that although modern opinion has hijacked Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights as great love stories, they were never meant to be. R&J is one of Shakespeare's tragedies. It's about foolishness of a) young love and b) feuding. WH was written as a psychodrama but was marketed as romance by a publisher who believed that people would only buy women-authored books if they were romances. This makes me hate WH a little less, but I still hate it for many, many reasons. R&J is okay, I mostly just want to slap people and after Mercutio dies I'm not paying much attention.

You know me--I'm all about the happy endings. I think people finding their way to each other and how they make that life work is endlessly fascinating. I don't see why all the drama has to happen to the relationship. Why can't the drama be external and they face it together? That's just as interesting to me as more angst and woe.
11th-Dec-2010 08:21 am (UTC)
Yup. Maybe I need to make it clear that it's modern opinion that irks me, not merely the texts themselves? Because, verily, this is what I complain about --- that people call them great love stories and point to them with gleeful, 'that's how romance is meant to be', when neither was intended to be read as such.

12th-Dec-2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
I usually stay out of these writing posts. But I don't know. I haven't had coffee yet and the phrase "lazy and unimaginative writer" caught my eye. I think there might be two opportunities for a writer to be lazy and unimaginative (or not to be) because there is writing and then there is storytelling. As a reader (listener, viewer) I can be compelled by a good story even if the writing is flat. And at least in my case, beautifully written sentences about beautiful things will get me to read and reread an unsatisfying story.

And I read the post back to front so I got to Emily Bronte after I was thinking about lazy and unimaginative- which I think she probably wasn't, but do you refer to her book to say adopting her strangle-hold and punch in the guts method would be? Anyway, I am interested that you think the book is horrible. I don't know how anyone could like the book, but I had enough time on my hands last summer to fascinated by it for two weeks. I think that her book has been misinterpreted for the public by critics from the beginning and by scholars and filmmakers as we go along. Whatever Emily Bronte intended gets swept aside for what can be sold or what people are willing to swallow at the moment. Myself, I kept having to read literary criticisms and Bronte biographies until I found one that agreed with me that Ellen Dean was the main villian/hero/protagonist/character/etc. There is something about it (and that Romeo and Juliette tale) that gives it staying power, horrible or not. I don't think either Wutherinh Heights or Romeo and Juliette can be intended as "great romance" because the lovers are not grown-ups. That means. to me, that angst is what they are intended to be about.

Angst is overrated? Okay, maybe, but maybe it is because it allows your reader/viewer/listener to maintain a position of superiority to the characters. We feel sorry for them without being dragged to the level of despair because they were really only suffering from angst. The story, however gut wrenching or throat punching, rates only nostalgic pity in the end, and as such, does not ruin your reader/viewer/listener's day. Maybe that's where the ratings come from.
12th-Dec-2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
As much as I dislike Bronte's writing, no, I do not think she was lazy and unimaginative. The framing device surrounding Wuthering Heights is the prime example that, actually, she was pretty awesome so far as trying to do something a little different goes.

There's really two main thrusts of argument here ---

a) the public tend to refer to non-romantic texts as the romantic ideal in determining 'great romance' (and once again, it has to be pointed out that I do mean romance = love as opposed to the genre.)

b) some writers go for the quick and cheap option when it comes to creating a reaction in their audience, and for some reason, many critics will still think it's better just by virtue of it being angst/tragedy, and that totally pisses me off.

Many people try to emulate what they think is going on in texts like R&J and WH, without really considering what they're about, to wrench people's hearts in what they think is a great love story. But that wasn't, really, sorry, the point of either of them.

So. When I say 'lazy and unimaginative', I mean writers today who fall back on various tropes because they think that's what great fiction is about, without thinking for themselves.

"Oh, these two people who are very much in love cannot be together because [X], so they decide to do [Y], however, [Y] fails, and they are caught in a terrible [Z], will either of them make it out? No, no of course they won't, because this is tragedy, and with their final breaths, they whisper one another's name."

I'm not saying it can't be great fiction in its own right, because yes, of course it can, given the right writer (well. so long as it isn't as badly done as this synopsis.) But it isn't automatically better or greater than the story in which the two crazy kids end up together, or the story in which the two crazy kids don't have too many difficulties at all, and actually the problems of the story are borne out of entirely different tensions. Yet so, so, so many people would try to suggest it is.

The story, however gut wrenching or throat punching, rates only nostalgic pity in the end, and as such, does not ruin your reader/viewer/listener's day.

Hee. I wish. I meant angst as a fanfic genre, which encompasses many genres, but is basically tragedy at its heart. Good angst can have you feeling disconsolate for days.
12th-Dec-2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
If it's a choice between re-reading Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, the one where people were tortured and angsty for a while before finally ending up having a relationship as equals, were being together was enough for them both, than the one with the guy hanging a little dog and the stupid fricking woman thinking that meant he cared about her, WTF?!! Wuthering Heights isn't a love story. It's a story about the destructive power of obsession. It's a story of what people can become if they forget that goodness can come from within as well as outside. It's about the wrong decisions that people make and their devastating consequences. If you truly love somebody, you don't set out to destroy the people they care about, even if they chose those people over you. That's called "messed up" - not "romantic"!
12th-Dec-2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
If it's a choice between re-reading Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, then I almost always choose the one where people were tortured and angsty for a while before finally ending up having a relationship as equals, where being together was enough for them both, rather than the one with the guy hanging a little dog and the stupid fricking woman thinking that meant he cared about her, WTF?!! Wuthering Heights isn't a love story. It's a story about the destructive power of obsession. It's a story of what people can become if they forget that goodness can come from within as well as outside. It's about the wrong decisions that people make and their devastating consequences. If you truly love somebody, you don't set out to destroy the people they care about, even if they chose those people over you. That's called "messed up" - not "romantic"!
12th-Dec-2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
Word.

:D
13th-Dec-2010 01:01 am (UTC)
THIS!
13th-Dec-2010 11:19 am (UTC)
This page was loaded Nov 19th 2017, 10:25 am GMT.