Why Bad Marriages Make Good Books/Movies

anonymous said:
"one thing i've noticed is that there are not a lot of realistic love stories out there that feature truly happy marriages.

i was wondering...could you write one please?"


The one thing that's always gotten to me is how happy relationship stories end just as the real relationship is beginning. These books and movies are written by people with various agendas so there is a reason why what you end up seeing or reading is either trite or depressing. I'm not saying all writers are miserable and bitter or commercially opportunistic, but they are real people--sometimes miserably bitter commercially opportunistic people--and a lot of thought does go into what they turn out. Usually it has nothing to do with reality or it is a thinly disguised version of their reality. That's the writer's right and one which is exercised until we're reminded by an agent, editor or reader(s) that we're not writing for ourselves. But that's a whole other issue.

My lovely friend John once told me his parents have the most perfectly happy and fulfilling marriage. They enjoy each other's company, hold hands all the time, share the same interests and generally just get a kick out of each other. He revealed this with no small amount of bitterness. We both knew this was something neither of us were ever likely to find in, yes, real life. Something like what his parents have happens once in a lifetime and, it seems, always to other people. The rest of us are left making do and most of us do OK or don't.

In my next book, More Than This (Touchstone/August 2008), I decided to write my version of a love story between true soul mates, Evelyn and Alexander. They're destined to be together. They're perfect for each other and compliment their respective strengths and weaknesses. But there's a twist. Since I couldn't write a whole book about two deliriously happy people, I decided to start before the beginning before they even meet and end it right before they do or don't do. Why? It might be just me, but I find the whole foreplay aspect to human interaction, either on the screen, in a book or in real life, to be much more exciting then what comes after. I'm living what comes after and it's no great shakes so it would make sense I'd want something else in my movies and books.

As for my two soul mates, Evelyn and Alexander, I'd be willing to revisit them again in the future and find out what happens after the last page. Whether it's realistic or not will depend on my mood and, yeah, how well More Than This sells.

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