18 thoughts on “Versus: The love I remember”
Think back on any book or story you’ve read, movie, show or play you’ve seen and tell me: what do you remember most?
I think the answer splits down the two sides: some remember what people said. While some remember what happened. I don’t mean to infer that only one or the other is done, but predominately, one will supersede the other.
And here’s why I think this matters. For me, dialog is forgotten while the events of a story are not. I can tell you what happened in LOTR, but very little of what was said. I recall vividly the scene in Outrun the Moon when the two girls tumble down the hill in SF with the leg of beef — but nothing of what they spoke of. To me, dialog is the glue, the sinew of the story which holds it together. But the story itself must have bones and muscle, i.e. the traumatic events and crises, and it is those that a reader remembers. Without the glue, the story falls apart. Without the bones, there’s no story to begin with.
(Of course, it is probably the characters we remember most. But do we recall them because of what they said? Or did?)
What is it for you? Do you recall the verbal interchange more than the events of a story? Or the other way ’round?
I must be one flint hearted son-of-a-bitch because I don’t /ever/ remember feeling anything while I read or watched something. I remember the situations and outcomes of things that happened to characters. And that’s it.
Jaws? I remember “Show me the way to go home, bum, bum, bum” only because I’ve sung that a hundred times. Everything else? All events. What did I feel when Shaw got bit and swallowed by the shark? HellifIknow. I can see that event in my head, clear as day. But feel? Stone.
The whole point of this post was: What should be the focus of a story? Chatter? Or getting shit handled? Dialog, to me, is overrated. Words are cheap. Actions speak tons.
Conversation is the glue that holds society together. No doubt about it. We are who we are (humanity) because of language. And for most of human history that was words, spoken to each other.
But about what? Where is the bison herd? How did you kill that cave lion with only a chert knife? When did we see that strange tribe with the odd heads?
I don’t wish to belabor this, but I think it pertains to story telling. The events of our lives, and the events of our stories, are the milestones of our existence. Sure, some words are specifically remembered. But most often, it’s the context and the occurrence that we recall. I got hit by a rock — in the face, when I was eight. Broke my nose. I don’t recall anything but the event, the setting and the blood. No words. Only the location, the situation and the imagery.
When we go to write our stories, knowing that — what will make them memorable — is not the clever repartee, but the situation of the dialog. What is happening while the words are spoken.
Yes, the words are important — because that’s how we humans operate. Through speech. In the end though. When we recall a story, either our own or make-believe, we will most likely remember, not what was said, but what happened.
Cheating with Disney and Potter. Repetition, doesn’t count. (Potter marathons, “How many times, through all 8 films, does Ron say the word “bloody”? — Answer: 13 (we counted)).
One-off experiences with written stories, are remembered, in my experience, by what happens to whom. Not what any one characters says. (Unless it’s utterly singular in impact and delivery.)
Challenge: Think back on the last few books you’ve read and tell me something about them? That. That, I suspect, will be the events of the story. Not what any one character said.
(Police: “Alright, calm down. Now, tell us what happened.”)
(Lawyer: “On the night of the 15th, where were you and what were you doing?”)
(Mother: “Jennie, hun, I know it hurts. But how did you get this awful bruise?”)
We are programmed to remember and relate what happened. Events. Locations. Imagery. Not words.
Well…Both would be good starts on a Noob romance novel. Why can’t they talk and do? If she pulled him into the house they’d be kissing in the (room of choice) not passion. If either of these went BAM it would be an either or. There’s a reason they invented talkies. Raised eyebrows, theatrics and the ministry of silly walks will only you get you so far. A husky morning voice, a giggle, a clown-like “For you!” What if she’d called him a silly bastard before she kissed him? Depth is the antithesis of one dimensional. Just my .02
I’ll remember the second one better, I guess because the actions take form in my head, which probably activates more neurones 😀 At least that’s a theory 😉
Loved it. And, yes, the second one will stick with me; actions are more powerful than words, as you say.
P.S. How come I don’t see “like” buttons on comments on your site? 😉
The thing is, words don’t mean shit. Talk all fucking day long and in the end, what do you have? Nothing.
Pick up that stake, take that hammer and drive that wicked piece of pine into that god-damn blood sucker’s heart until it pokes out his back and the bastard crumbles to dust.
Now, what do you have? One dead vampire. How many words did anyone spout about the deed? None.
Is this a Cosmopolitan test? 😀
(For instance… Shiitake mushrooms, mmm, delicious in soup.)
Two people sitting on a bench.
He turns to her. “If this is what addiction is about, then I can understand why it could be a problem. But for me, addicted to you is the only cure for loneliness I could have hoped for.”
“Just a touch, from the tip of you finger, and I feel connected.” She raises a finger in the air.
“And I, connected to you.” He mirrors her finger and they touch. “Sitting here, heady from the smell of you, it fills me with such longing to hold you even closer.”
“And when your fingertip leaves me, the sense of loss crashes over me like a wave. But then I just have to look into your eyes…” She gazes intently.
He stares back. “And I into your eyes, and the universe swells with my love for you.”
“Hold my hand, and I’ll hold your heart,” she says. Their hands touch and their fingers interlock.
He smiles fondly. “And your heart I will nurture as my own.”
~~~ Versus ~~~
He opened his eyes and his first thought was of her.
He jumped into his clothes and ran out the door, coffee and food be damned. The dew lay thick upon the grass. When he got to the field of flowers, just blooming in this bright spring morning, his pants became soaked as he swam through the wet leaves plucking blossoms of wild flowers, a billowing bouquet of yellows and blues.
She heard tapping on her window, tiny stones plinking off the glass. She turned in bed to stare out into April’s sunrise. A scuffle of sound came from outside and she caught sight of the top of his head peaking over the sill.
She hurried to free the latch and lift the sash. There he was, a total mess of hair and loose clothing. She cupped both his cheeks and bent to kiss him fully.
Wavering on the ladder he swung his arm up from behind his back and thrust the expanse of green stems and crazy flowers into her room.
She gasped as droplets of cold dew slipped down his fingers to splash off her bare feet. She gripped his hand in both of hers and took the bunch of cornflowers, daisies and queen-anne’s-lace from his fist. Her eyes blazed with wonder at the array of color and variety. They softened as she return to kiss him once again.
His purchase at the top of the ladder slipped and the thing fell out from under him. He lurched to grab the window frame.
She heard the clatter and froze to see him dangling. Dropping the bouquet, which exploded in disarray, she grabbed his arms and helped to pull him inside.
They fell back over the flowers, laughing with relief, kissing in passion.
~~~ Comparison ~~~
Which one will you remember?
The words or the actions?
Do actions speak louder than words?
Are words more powerful than actions?