From the book SHOW ME THE LOVE! All Kinds of Love for All Kinds of Stories by Pamela Jaye Smith & Monty Hayes McMillan
Got Love? Got enough Love? Got the right kind of Love?
No matter your genre or style, a good story needs some kind of Love to engage us emotionally.
Too often people think Love is just the romantic or sexual kind. But wait – there’s more.
Love of adventure, land, community, family, friends, warrior bonding, love of pets, love of learning, love of death and destruction, interspecies love, transformative chivalric love….
This series explores the Mythical and Psychological aspects of different types of love, plus suggestions for the Shining Moment, Cinematic Techniques, and Symbols.
Join us for a journey through many different kinds of love that can enrich your characters, compel your plots, and move your audience. Our articles have addressed Love of Adventure, Chivalric Love, Love for Animals, Interspecies Love, Best Friends Forever, Breaking Up, Love of Land and Country, Love of Family, Warrior Bonding, and Love of Death and Destruction.
This month’s article will look at “Love of Art”.
Your characters, even in romantic comedies, supernatural romances, or historical novels, will be richer for having other interests than just romantic or sexual love. Show us real people with real lives and professions, vocations and callings, passions and drives. If those are focused on the Arts you can then bring more unexpected, idealistic, and emotional elements into your storyline.
Examples in Psychology
The desire to create seems built into our human psyche. Art can alter our state of being and take us outside the daily concerns of physical existence. It can bring us peace, inspiration, contemplation, exaltation. It is no wonder so many religions incorporate art into their rituals, be it music, icons, uplifting architecture, poetry, dance, etc.The Muse (some inner part of ourselves or often another person) inspires, connects the artist to higher ideals, and helps them step away from the regular world into the heady world of art and its creation. The Muse opens you up for you to raise yourself to a higher level. They are the trigger and the conduit for inspiration and artistic focus but you still have to do the work. It’s not like an angel giving you a miracle, you still have to pick up the palette, the hammer and chisel, put your fingers on the keyboard, etc.
Examples in Myth and Legend
Pygmalion was a young Greek sculptor who was disappointed in love. He decided to have nothing more to do with girls. So instead he carved the perfect girl in marble, named her Galatea, and fell in love with her. In some of the stories he even dressed her up and had “tea parties” with her. At a feast of Aphrodite he made a fervent wish that his great work of art would come alive so he could enjoy his perfect love, Galatea. Impressed by his devotion, Aphrodite granted him his desire and the marble statue warmed, quickened, and stepped down off the pedestal and into his arms. According to most of the stories, happiness ensued between the artist and his art.
Flute-playing Kokopelli is a deity of the Southwest Native American cultures, representative of music and fertility.
Greek Orpheus is said to be a rock star. When he played, the rocks sprouted feet to follow him and keep listening to his amazing music.
Examples in History and Current Events
The Renaissance individual is multi-talented, multi-learned, multi-skilled, and able to converse and write fluently in a number of languages, play music, and excel in a number of sports. Science has now explained how music and art contribute to the development of our brains and can make us better in everything else we do. A culture suffers that does not include the arts in education or civil society.
Architecture is art on a grand scale. It defines cultures and influences people, from pyramids to cathedrals to the intimidating architecture of Nazi Germany with its vast plazas, towering edifices, and 100 foot tall blood-red banners. Across the world today there is a competition to see who can raise the highest skyscraper: Kuala Lumpur has the Petronas Towers, Dubai the Burj Khalifa, and in New York City the always iconic Empire State Building unfortunately briefly regained tallest building status.
Examples in Media
Artists make good characters because they are typically driven, unconventional, troubled, attractive, neurotic, brilliant, and as was said about Lord Byron, he was “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” What a great story character!
And don’t think the writer is a dull artistic character for stories or screen just because they’re not dashing around having wild adventures. There’s plenty of drama and contained conflict in Shakespeare in Love.
Music and movies about musicians offer a myriad of perspectives on the inner turmoils and outer troubles as these unconventional people bump heads with society and conformity as recently seen in Straight Outta Compton.
Cave art Carvings and tools Paintbrush and palette
Musical instruments Keyboard Blueprints
Key Element – The Shining Action
The Calling – the moment your character takes steps towards deciding what they want to pursue. If you can build in 3 to 5 steps along the way, from an initial slight interest to a fervent desire to pursue it, you can keep raising the tensions for your audience. Throw in resistance all along the way and you will increase the dramatic conflict. This Shining Moment will be the first glimpse of the goal: a statue, a film set, a band. Monuments Men does this very well.
For grand architecture like a Gothic cathedral or pyramids you want to get the feeling of it towering above us. They were designed to be seen from the bottom up, representing the gods holding sway over man. So give us that perspective of looming, impressive and often oppressive power.
Watch Leni Reifenstahl’s Triumph of the Will for a superb example on the dynamics of photographing architecture and large spaces.
For music, start close on the sheet music or the fingers of the player. Pull out to a wider shot and see how the music affects others. See the “Play it again, Sam” scene in Casablanca.
Have your camera face-on to the writer as they type out the story. You don’t see the fingers on the keyboard or the words on the screen or page, but you do see the emotions that they feel.
Humans would not be human without art. Make this an integral aspect of at least one of your characters and you can expand your audience reach and recognition.
The arts are wonderfully complex and contradictory worlds within themselves. Placing your characters in those turbulent streams of creativity, power, pride, temptation, defeat, or victory can create compelling dramatic conflicts and resolutions.
Exercise #1 – Awareness
What to you is the most beautiful piece of art, be it painting, music, dance, sculpture, writing, etc.?
Exercise #2 – Writing
Write 2-3 lines of dialogue where one character is trying to explain something to another character. First make one of them an artist and the other one not.
Then rewrite the scene with both characters as artists so they won’t have to keep explaining the jargon.
© 2015 Pamela Jaye Smith & Monty Hayes McMillan
Pamela Jaye’s BOOKS & SEMINARS can be found at the Writers Store and on MYTHWORKS, where you can also learn more about her consulting, writing, and pitching services. Mythic ChallengesAlpha Babe Academy
- More articles by Pamela Jaye Smith and Monty Hayes McMillan
- What's Your Character's Deal Breaker?: A Key to Compelling Characters
- FREE Screenwriting Resources to Download!
Get more great advice from Pamela & Monty in their book
Show Me the Love