Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bad Dialogue and other Reasons to Mate

I saw a few articles in the news recently that made the writer in me pay attention.

The first was a Chicago Tribune Watcher column about bad dialogue in television shows and posing the question: What lines do you never want to hear spoken on television ever again?

I've been hesitating to mention this article only because I feel like I should be able to offer up a suggestion of my own. But, truth be told, I haven't watched a lot of television in the past few months so none are jumping up and screaming to be chosen. But I'm mentioning it anyway because I think it's a good exercise to sit back and think about what has become cliche.

The other article that grabbed my writer's interest was from the New York Times on The Whys of Mating: 237 Reasons and Counting. To quote the article: After asking nearly 2,000 people why they’d had sex, the researchers have assembled and categorized a total of 237 reasons — everything from “I wanted to feel closer to God” to “I was drunk.” They even found a few people who claimed to have been motivated by the desire to have a child.

To me, the most interesting part of the article was how the researchers categorized the reasons into four motivational types:
*Physical: “The person had beautiful eyes” or “a desirable body,” or “was good kisser” or “too physically attractive to resist.” Or “I wanted to achieve an orgasm.”

*Goal Attainment: “I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner” or “break up a rival’s relationship” or “make money” or “be popular.” Or “because of a bet.”

*Emotional: “I wanted to communicate at a deeper level” or “lift my partner’s spirits” or “say ‘Thank you.’ ” Or just because “the person was intelligent.”

*Insecurity: “I felt like it was my duty” or “I wanted to boost my self-esteem” or “It was the only way my partner would spend time with me.”
The writer in me can't help but think that by working through these types of motivations, I can make my love scenes even more integral to my plot and characters. Obviously, the characters might not know or understand their motivations at a conscious level, but when I as the writer know their motivations, I can relay them through action and, hopefully, give the scene more substance and relevance.

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