The first writing class I ever attended was through my local community college - just on a lark - long before I seriously thought about giving writing a try. The class was taught by Phyllis Taylor Pianka and the price of the session included a copy of her book, “How to Write Romances.” I didn’t usually read pure romance (although a little romance is a good thing) so my goal wasn’t to write that specific genre but it seemed like a good place to start.
In a few hours I learned the basic formula for plotting a romance, and it didn’t sound too difficult. I put my hand to it and…fell flat. As Mark Twain said to his wife when she tried to shock him with his own profanity, “You got the words right but you don’t know the tune.” I could plot a novel and plug in the scenes, but I didn’t have the music to make the story sing.
Even though the stories we write may not fall into the romance category, we all appreciate when it’s a vital part of the books we read. We’ve mentioned several of our favorite movie romances this week, such as You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. I’m not even the chick-flick type, but there are some beautiful love stories that have made it to the silver screen – sometimes besting the book versions. And it’s not about the rippling six-packs or chiseled jaws or other stereotypes sometimes associated with romance. It’s about what people will give up for love, or how it changes them – or how they change themselves for it. It’s powerful and poignant and sometimes painful. A true love story goes far beyond the romance to the point of sacrificing ourselves. It’s a dim reflection of the love our Father in Heaven has for us.
I’ve made a list of some love stories that were made into movies that may not be categorized as romances, but are about love at the core. Some were books that were made into movie scripts:
My all-time favorite is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I save it for a dreary autumn afternoon when there are no distractions. I enjoyed the book, but felt that the movie version was better because there was more tension between the characters and the ending was more satisfying. Natalie Wood plays her young daughter. Sappy and wonderful. Sigh…
Another is Pride and Prejudice. Very much a romance. (Especially when Colin Firth plays Mr. Darcy) The miniseries on A&E follows the book almost word for word, which is a wonderful thing.
I read The African Queen after I saw the movie and was disappointed that the romance between the main characters was downplayed in the book. I will say that my edition has a slightly different ending because the publisher made a change that the author didn’t see before publication and the version I have is a re-issue with the original ending. BTW, Humphrey Bogart’s character is still married to a first wife when he marries Katherine Hepburn’s character at the end of the book. Sheesh.
The Bishop’s Wife is adapted from the book by Robert Nathan. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s available on Kindle and I would like to compare them. Okay, I fall in love with Cary Grant every Christmas, but whatever.
Katy mentioned The Painted Veil. I enjoyed both the movie and the book, although the book ended a bit differently. This story of love, forgiveness and restoration is incredibly powerful and goes beyond a simple love story.
I think I’m the only person who loves The Time Traveler’s Wife but hasn’t seen the movie. Some have told me it wasn’t as good as the book, and I can see where it would be difficult to pull off without the use of subtitles or long-winded explanations of what’s happening. What do you think, those who have seen it?
Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel both depend on romance but are steeped in mystery. Loved the books, but haven’t seen the movies in quite a while. I remember a delicious creepiness factor that kept the stories from being sappy.
Casablanca is not adapted from a book, but I wanted to mention it because it’s a great love story. I was disappointed to find that the last scene of the movie wasn’t shot until weeks after filming was completed because they didn’t know how to end it. They couldn’t decide who Ilsa would end up with! They actually considered that she would leave her husband – the war hero – and run away with Rick. I want to knock their heads together, the knuckleheads.
On the lighter side, I was surprised to find that Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile were adapted from books. This adventure romance was a kick in the pants. I think I was first bitten by the writing bug when I was introduced to Joan Wilder.