So! This weekend, my dearest of dear friends Carlin (who is (in?)famously known as being "She Who Alex Originally Wrote Brightly Woven For" and "She Who Will Be Annoyed to See Alex Still Ending Sentences with Prepositions") came to visit. Andrea also came up for the weekend, so it was nice and crowded in our apartment, especially when Roommate H let us know that her wonderful cousin would also be staying with us. I'm a little bummed, because I definitely meant to record a vlog with Carlin to talk about some of the changes from the first draft (which I still think of as "her" draft) to the final draft (which is "everyone's" draft)... but we were so tired! So busy! So windblown! And really, I don't think she's had a chance to read the final "everyone's" version, so it might not have been much of a conversation. Also? Spoilers would have been abound. I find it really, really hard to entertain people in the city, if only because it's so expensive and hectic. We did hit up a lot of big sights, namely our Department Store Tour, the Rock, Central Park (We accidentally walked 30 blocks!! Shows you how awesome my navigation skills are.), and we saw a Broadway show with my friend Mike and his friend who were ALSO up for the weekend.
In what must be my first true case of NYC FAIL, we waited in the freezing rain for about an hour to get tickets to a show. All along, we were saying, "Oh, let's just see one of the big shows like Westside Story or Billy Elliot..." but they have these people who walk along and answer questions you have about the shows, and everyone we talked to (even the ones promoting other shows) recommended that we see "Next to Normal." So we paid our $$$ and then promptly had nothing to do for the next two hours but wander around in the aforementioned freezing rain. We ended up at Grand Central Station, but everyone seemed surprised that I couldn't offer up any place for us to eat dinner off the top of my head. You have to remember that I really only spend time in Midtown while I'm at work, and the only meal I eat there is lunch. So I found an Italian food restaurant for us to eat that was in the next building over... only it was closed. No-Lights-Doors-Locked Closed. A security guard, who must have thought he was being exceedingly helpful, told us he knew of another pizza place around the corner. We asked him if the pizza was good and he claimed it was "very good, very good." What was this pizza oasis, you might ask?
Friends, I am not proud. It was a dark night and very cold. And I was hungry. So, so hungry.
"Next to Normal" ended up being very good... but also very depressing, which, after eating a thoroughly depressing dinner, was not something that we could truly appreciate. In order to salvage our night, Carlin and I went back to Union Square to buy cupcakes and get a movie (...which may or may not have been FernGully...), only it was pouring and the wind was strong enough that it kept blowing our umbrellas inside-out. Crumbs? Closed. The 24 hour Best Buy? Closed on Sunday nights.
We were sad.
But anyway, anyway, the whole point of this post was to say that we ended up going to see the movie Leap Year, despite the terrible reviews it's been getting. While it's certainly not an Oscar contender, it was a fun little movie. Fun after you got over the fact that this girl is flying across the Atlantic to propose to her boyfriend on one day, when she could have stayed in Boston and proposed on all of the 365 other days of that year, of course. But while Carlin and I were walking back to the apartment, I finally realized what was REALLY bugging me about the movie.
They use the old I-Hate-You-I-Love-You routine, which is still something that I really love (you can blame Han Solo and Princess Leia for that) despite all of its faults. The PROBLEM with using it in this movie is that the I-Hate-You moments were TOO good. They hated each other so much that it was almost palpable. Really, they were just ruthless with one another. So when the time came to flip the switch, or at least to start hinting at future bliss, it was too unbelievable, and fell flat.
You have to be so, so careful when it comes to this kind of relationship in literature and movies--I know from first hand experience. It took several rounds of revisions in Brightly Woven to get the point where Sydelle could still be angry that North had taken her away from her home, but she could also--in a believable way--come around to him eventually. My situation was a little different because the I-Hate-You was fairly one-sided on her part. North is frustrated and slightly annoyed with her in the beginning, because she (rightfully) acts like a little wretch, but he doesn't act on those feelings. He's not antagonizing her (intentionally). My then-agent and I came to the conclusion that we there needed to be many more hints of North's better qualities in the beginning, so later it would be easier for Syd to accept her first opinion of him wasn't really accurate. While he wasn't nasty in the first drafts, he wasn't quite as... restrained? I would say his problems were very exaggerated, considering the original first scene had him dealing with alcohol overload.
I definitely spent more time fine-tuning Syd's emotions, though. She has a rollercoaster of emotions that come into play within the first thirty pages: curiosity, fear, anger, resentment, frustration, etc. Definitely a mess in the first draft, but I'm really proud of where she ended up. Sydelle still gives him a piece of her mind on several occasions, but she doesn't come off as a shrew or unlikeable.
(I might try to post the original first chapter so that you all can see how different it was... but I don't want to scare you away! Maybe Carlin's TRUE gift is the knowledge that she is one of very few that gets a description of North's puke.)