Should love be an important theme in all books?
What is love anyways?
Love is a broad concept. For you, it can mean one thing. For the person next door, it can mean something else.
For a teenager, it’s everything. For a middle-aged man/woman, it’s history – and for my brother it’s a scene in a movie.
Woody Allen has a famous quote from one of his romantic comedies; “Vicki Christina Barcelona” which goes:
Only unfulfilled love can be romantic.
Is it true for everyone? Or is it only true for young lovers?
The big question is: If love is experienced differently all the time, depending on the individual, then how does one write love-scenes that can relate to everyone?
Personally, I used to struggle with writing romantic scenes in my books a few years back. It wasn’t because I hadn’t experienced the feeling before. Oh no. It was because my feelings were downright incomprehensible for anyone to understand. Every time I fell in love with someone special, I grabbed that piece of paper and wrote down what (in my head that day) seemed like the most passionate prose that anyone had ever written before – only to discover the next morning, how utterly obscure and irrational my thoughts were:
I had invented words that could not be found anywhere in the English vocabulary.
I had contradicted myself again and again.
I even scolded myself for feeling this way, because (most probably) I would never see this person again.
So I started studying different ways of describing love from books that I really liked at the time. I ended up finding a few good ones, such as …
A Room With a View by E.M Forster.
George had turned at the sound of her arrival. For a moment he contemplated her, as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her (6.39).
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only. (Cosette and Marius)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronthe
Most true is it that ‘beauty is in the eye of the gazer.’ My master’s colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth, — all energy, decision, will, — were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me; they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me, — that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.
All of these excerpts have one thing in common; they are very direct and straight-forward. For example; “He stepped quickly forward and kissed her.” from “A Room with a View” or; “He made me love him without looking at me” from “Jane Eyre”.
Read the lines out loud for yourself a couple of times. Do you notice how they’re nowhere near ambiguous or decorated. On the contrary. They are very clear and precise.
Which love-story has made YOUR heart skip a beat?
Most likely, it was one that was very direct in speech. I have found that only then – the reader can truly imagine themselves in that scene.
But what is love?
The Oxford Dictionary says that love is an intense feeling of deep affection.
What is affection?
Affection is the bond between a parent and his/her child. It is the embrace of an angel descending upon you in the autumn of life. Affection is sweet and simple. It does not belong to aliens.
– Myndin Spildo
So how does this information help us in any way?
Why is it so important to reflect upon that which creates us? Namely, love …
Throughout my research of great love-scenes, I discovered something which has helped me and my creative writing a great deal; When creating a story, one must not just learn to write romantic scenes. One must learn to write romantically all the time. Authors constantly romanticise the sorrows of life, the depression that arises with the confrontation of death – and the rejections that lead us to our particular love. So as an author – I tell you – never suppress these coming phases of life. Don’t save these emotions for love-scenes. Use them everywhere.
My sister once reminded me of the sexuality that surrounds us – that one early spring morning, she could hear an orchestra of birds sending mate- signals to each other. It tells me that the ruthlessness of our cunning nature, in every flower, every tree and every bush is in fact the very essence of romantic love; therefor just as important.
Every sentence must be sensual and fertile. In other words; sexuality must exist behind each line. Writing a story is pressing the juice out of a subject. You leave all the uneciasarry things behind – and you write, with deep voluptuousness.
So yes. Love is an important theme for every craft. And I came to this realisation because I read the books mentioned above. E.M Forster possesses love in each line from his book; “A Room with a View.” So does Victor Hugo in “Les Miserables” and Charlotte Bronthe in “Jane Eyre”. Because tragedies, as well as love-scenes, are equally loveable; They are both sensations that do not change with time.
Love is timeless, therefor it can be (should be) used in everything.
Aftur S. Nerdrum
(ps: what do YOU think about love, in terms of writing?)