I was thinking back along some of my favorite movies and books last night, specifically to try to find one of those defining moments/scenes/lines that just *makes* that story a part of me.
It might be hard to define, but you know what I mean. It’s that little bit that you always make a point of watching when you’re flipping the channels on the TV or the dog-eared passage of a book that you read whenever you’re having a shitty day. Whatever it is, it resonates deeply.(And the same could be said of a piece of music – what refrain or musical bridge takes root in you?)
I’ve seen it said somewhere that dialogue in books is never really all that realistic because it would be terribly boring if it were. That’s probably true to some degree. As authors we straddle that line between keeping things interesting without going over the top. (Or at least, I do. YMMV, of course.)
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I hope to someday write a scene like that – something that someone reads over and over again, simply because it’s So. Damn. Awesome.
Of course, a lot of it is the atmosphere. What might give you a warm fuzzy at first might sour over time. Or simply reading a passage aloud may take away the magic – maybe it just sounds better in your head then in your actual voice. On the other hand, that can be a great way to see if dialogue works – if you start giggling part way through an angst-ridden paragraph, that’s probably a good sign that it’s not ready for prime time.
For movies, it’s all about the actors and the delivery..but that’s what makes them movies, I suppose. So, here’s one of my favs, the love scene from Terminator. (NSFW in parts, obviously)
And of course, some of the above is delicious cheesy…but the scene works, regardless. **
As opposed to this scene, which was cut:
And I remember the above scene from the book (yes, there was a screenplay adaptation at one point), and it was much more poignant via the written word. Poor Kyle, breaking down as he saw what he was never supposed to see. But it was written more from his PoV, so we got a better idea of what he was going through – as opposed to the clunker scene that was horrendously over-acted and made no sense. Really Kyle? You pull a gun on the girl you came across time for?
** And incidentally the whole “I love you, Sarah. I always have.” line? Awesome, awesome, awesome movie goodness. Classic throughout the ages on the big screen. In the melodramatic note scrawled to the boy I liked when I was 16 that I passed to him in the hallway? Not so much. (Yes, I changed the name to his, duh.) Ah, young love.