I Meant to Do That

One of my favorite things in the world is when you get to the end of a chapter, a TV episode, or a movie installment of a serial and your mind screams, “This can’t be the end!”

Watching he screen turn black as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia barely escape the grips of Darth Vader and regroup, knowing Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and on his way to Jabba, my heart breaks. I ache. It will be three years before the Jedi returns to save the rebels. I vow that I will be first in line on that day.

…Or it will be next fall before I see if Ducky survives his heart attack. Or it will be next week before I know if Monroe is executed.

That’s what I love about books. There is always “one more chapter” as I tell myself at 2:30 in the morning. After all, how can I sleep soundly when the heroine of the story is about to walk into the coliseum to face the lions? No matter how much faith you may have in the author, you have to see the poor girl through.

“Just because they’re fictional characters doesn’t mean they’re not real,” I told a reader friend the other day. We laughed. But we understand each other. Readers are invested.

My friend asked me about my writing, too. “So when you’re writing, do you plan out the chapter breaks, or do you go back and divide the story into chapters later?”

I told him that I love to write episodically. I work very hard to leave every chapter at the apex of the roller-coaster. That’s the tingly sensation I crave, and I’m not alone.

Yes, I meant to write it like that. I want you to get to the end of the scene and whisper, “Just one more chapter,” a dozen times a night.

 “This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.” -Oscar Wilde


Spoil Sport

I love connecting with others through a variety of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, tumblr, Goodreads, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest. Each site has its own personality as well as its own efficient method of communicating. My trouble comes when my often-over-booked life prevents me from keeping up with my favorite TV shows or the latest movies. Then all these fun networking sites become an endless source of spoilers.

I hate spoilers. My loathing first began when I was standing in a lunch buffet line on a Sunday afternoon and a friend turns excitedly and says, “I saw Empire Strikes Back on Friday, and guess what? Luke gets his hand cut off and Darth Vader is his dad!” Ugghh!

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Yes, I know that Vader translates into Father, and it was pretty obvious that something like that had to happen for the good of the story, but I want to learn these things as the tale unfolds, not while picking out a side of green beans and a slice of Boston cream pie at the Sirloin Stockade.

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What does any of this have to do with social media? This week I watched Frozen for the first time. I know I’m a bit late to the ball, but I have mostly-grown sons, and no grandchildren—not a lot of people begging me to take them to a Disney princess movie. But what really slowed me down was that Pinterest and Facebook posts had pretty much given away all of the plot twists of the show. I still held out hope that maybe I wouldn’t already know every single thing that was going to happen. But alas, it had all been revealed in cute little posts from well-meaning friends.

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Yesterday I heard about a teacher in Europe who threatened his noisy class with spoilers from Game of Thrones if they didn’t behave. He’s a genius! And that’s proof that nobody likes to have their story spoiled.

All I ask—and what I do my very best to do in turn—is try not to spoil a great twist or ending for others. While we all sometimes complain that the suspense is killing us, and we hate to wait for the next episode or the sequel, we all really crave that moment of surprise when that thing that cannot happen… does. It’s what makes the story special. To be told beforehand—well, spoils it.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

Music ♥ Loves ♥ Film

Movies love music. Motion picture took its baby steps with a soundtrack. Even before the film incorporated sound, movie houses brought in musicians—pianists, organists, sometimes even full orchestras—to accompany the movie.

Music connects the audience to the story instantly, by pushing our emotional buttons. By linking visual images with sound, we receive cues about what is about to happen. Our hearts pump faster; we hold our breaths. We hunker down in our theatre seats and grab the hand next to us.

Picture a girl running from the beach into the gentle waves of the ocean. She’s carefree, enjoying a beautiful sunset swim. Now add a deep cello background. Duhhn-unmph. Duhhn-unmph. Duhhn-unmph. Yeah, she’s toast.

Try to imagine any great movie without music. It’s difficult.

I joke around with my kids about the music in ‘80’s movies, but what would Ferris Bueller’s Day Off be without “Danke Shoen” or “Twist and Shout?” How could Meryl Streep and Robert Redford fall in love without the tender scores moving them together in Out Of Africa?

Whenever I think about the Pirates of the Caribbean films, I hear the Hans Zimmer soundtracks. John Williams’ scoring for the Star Wars Saga is iconic. Sometimes when I’m angry, I pretend the Darth Vader music accompanies my march to confrontation. It’s most empowering.

Where would Bogey and Bergman be without “As Time Goes By?” That song played as big a role in Casablanca as Peter Lorre did. Speaking of the music as a character, I adore the owl mariachis in Rango. Their asides with the Spanish guitars and trumpets are hysterical.

When I write, I incorporate music into my stories, too. When I wrote about the pirate Jean Lafitte, I constantly listened to “Jupiter” from The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. To me the music embodies a buoyant power and enchanting tempo, just like the gentleman pirate himself. My romantic comedy, Fake Jake, incorporates several styles of dance music, from ballet to disco to country western.

My older son composes music on his computer, and when I heard one of his songs last week, I asked if I could use it for a book trailer. You’ll hear it soon!

Music sets the tone, not only for the unfolding story, but for our minds as well. What are your favorite soundtracks? I want to listen, too!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!