Friday, September 2, 2011

Romance: The calm before the storm.

I've always pictured a romance storyline something like this:

The beginning hook. GOTCHA. I wanna read more!

And it gets worse,

And a little more worse.

And still even more worse.

Until HOLY CRAP, the unthinkable happens.

These characters will NEVER be able to get together now!

But... something happens, and things are redeemed.

They characters kiss and make up.

And life happily ever after!

Now, if you turn your head sideways and look at the above steps... you'll notice that it reminds you of what a story line should look like too when measuring the degree of tension!


It should
Look a little
And then it
is done.

Okay, if you're not a visual person (or can't see looking sideways) you're probably really confused.

My point is this.

It's the need for a "calm before the storm" if you will. That moment everything SEEMS to be working swimmingly, but as a reader, you are holding your breath, because you KNOW something just terrible is about to happen.

The calm almost makes the tension of the black moment even bigger.

It's like when your toddler takes a really big, quiet breath, right before he/she issues the loudest scream you've ever heard.

Some movie examples:

Runaway Bride. After Richard and Julia kiss and Richard gets duly punched in the face, they realize they really actually love each other. They kiss some more. They decided to replace the wedding with THEIR wedding. All happy and good right? Scenes of them swinging and reading and preparing for the wedding and everything is all lolly-pops and rainbows. But all the while, you KNOW something bad is gonna happen. You assume it's at the wedding, but you don't know when for sure. Even though everything seems like it is fantastic, the tension of "when is the bomb gonna drop" keeps you watching and eating your popcorn, crying, "Don't run, Julia! Richard is a HUNK! Just do it!"

Of course, she runs. He chases her. Thus, the black moment.

The Proposal. Mean heroine (anyone who says you MUST have a likeable heroine at the beginning, watch this movie!) and good guy, fake engagement in order for her to not be deported. They hate each other, but are forced to vacation together in Alaska at his parents house. They still think they hate each other, but inside each of them starts to fall for the other. And then the fake wedding comes, and by then, you can tell they are in love. Fake or not, they are getting married! No deportation, they can finally admit their feelings, and they are married, so WOOHOO. But that's too easy. And as she walks down the aisle, we're all thinking, "what's gonna happen? What's gonna stop this? It CAN'T be this easy!" Then she turns around, and the rest, you have to watch the movie to find out!

Some book examples:

Well, here is the thing. There are a ton of them. So, I thought I'd let YOU share some of your favorite calms before the storms from books you've read. Can you pick any out?


Jessica R. Patch said...

I love the calm before the storm. Great post!

The last book I read with a great calm and blow out storm was a book by Kristen Hannah. Summer Island. I just knew the MC would blow it! But hoping she didn't. :)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Fun way to structure this post! I really need to start reading more romance.

~ Wendy

Jeanne Takenaka said...

What a fun post, Krista. :) A romance I read recently was Dining With Joy, by Rachel Hauck. This book about a cooking show host who can't cook is fun. Joy keeps getting herself out of cooking situations through humor. The hero of the story doesn't quite know what to make of her antics, and he doesn't know her secret. Lots of tension simmers beneath the surface until the black moment. It's fun to see how the characters grow to love each other and what happens when the storm hits. I'm not saying more--you'll just have to read it. :)

Beth K. Vogt said...

OK--first: Wendy, you don't read romance? If you need any suggestions, I have shelves and shelves of them!! I can give you an alphabetically listing of must-reads!
Now and example of calm-before-the-storm:
What about from the move "Return to Me."
He loses his wife. The heroine has no life, until she receives a heart transplant. Then the heroine and hero find each other and fall in love. Wow--wonderful. UNTIL--she realizes the heart she received is his dead wife's heart! OH NO! He could never love her now.
So she runs away ...

Krista Phillips said...

Beth, I so need to watch that movie! I thought I had a long time ago, but evidently not as I don't remember that plot! And heart transplants are near and dear to my heart:-)

Krista Phillips said...

Jessica, I haven't read that one yet... I'll put it on my "to read" list!!!

Krista Phillips said...

Wendy, yes, you do:-)

Krista Phillips said...

Jeanne... I'm in the middle of reading that book right now! THANKS for not giving away the storm!!!!!

Keli Gwyn said...

Romance rocks! I enjoyed both these movies. Own them. Watch them when I need a laugh and a romance fix.

I like the calm before the storm. It lulls me into a false sense of well being before the writer messes things up for the characters, and it makes the black moment even more poignant.

Krista Phillips said...

Keli, Yes, it does!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great post, Krista!

The calm before the storm moment is always accompanied by a musical interlude, isn't it? :)

I think the key is making sure there's always ONE unresolved conflict. For Runaway Bride, it's that we've never seen her fully overcome whatever fear drives her to run. In a lot of movies and books, there's an unrevealed secret that only the reader/viewer knows about. And we can't stop watching until all the gory truth is laid out on the table. :)

Krista Phillips said...

GREAT point, Sarah!!! You are SO right, even in the calm, there is still something you are itching to find out:-)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Great post with great movie examples. I think the calm is such a great way to set up the big BLACK moment. The storm. The crash. You know it's coming and the anticipation is sometimes unbearable! lol

Pepper said...

Oh boy! Two GREAT movies!!!
LOVED The Proposal (and not just because Ryan Reynolds was in it...much)

Leap Year has a set up like that, right?- and it's just a fun movie.

My CR has that calm before the point of no (or you think) no return. I like that sweet moment. False security and all. ;-)