Contact me at because I'm always up for a natter about anything. Well, mostly.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

I Said Love - Or Did I?

There's a wonderful little song in Robert and Elizabeth called 'I Said Love' which, as the title suggests, is Robert Browning affirming his feelings to Elizabeth Barrett via the helpful medium of song. It's a gorgeous little number, here are some of the lyrics:

"I said love, and I mean love
Let's be clear from the start
Something very strange has happened
Happened here, in my heart

Friendship can be quite delightful
Having friends is very nice
But my dear friend I must warn you
Merely friendship won't suffice..."

Good in it's way - and I do adore it - but perhaps a little too on-topic. I've been thinking a lot lately about how my characters admit they love each other. Most of the time it feels too contrived, as though the words have to be so irritatingly bland just to get it over with. Centuries of literature, music and film have rather dulled the meaning somewhat. So I'm trying to persuade my characters to say it without saying it. Donald O'Connor offers a good example of what I mean in Call Me Madam as he woos a princess played by Vera-Ellen:

The last few seconds and Donald's 'I'll shut up, your highness' make me giggle every time. But this is less about my love for the great dancer and more about my lack of love That scene's a perfect example of how to say it without actually saying it. Of course, this is Hollywood and the words are spoken later but do they have to be?

I feel like my characters roll their eyes at me when I force such hackneyed words into their mouths. Something that is massively helpful in 'showing' love is The Emotion Thesaurus, a wonderful little book that's all about conveying character emotions in realistic ways. The 'love' entry is very interesting, particularly the 'cues of suppressed love' - my characters utilise those quite often! It's proof that emotions are better off bubbling beneath the surface than being articulated every other scene. 

Now I just need to remember that. When I want to say love I should say something else. Maybe if I do need to spell it out then it isn't love in the first place... 

Although, sometimes, you do need to be told. I mean, sometimes you're just completely oblivious and Ethel Merman needs to give you a nudge:

"You don't need analysing
It is not so surprising
That you feel very strange but nice
Your heart goes pitter-patter
I know just what's the matter
Because I've been there once or twice
Put your head on my shoulder
You need someone who's older
A rubdown with a velvet glove
There is nothing you can take
To relieve that pleasant ache
You're not sick
You're just in love."

No comments: