Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

All right, we ran out of Speedo challenges and after over a week of daily posts we seem to have stopped so let's get some conversation going again, shall we?  One of the things I love about the Han and Leia pairing is that so much of their love story is conveyed through actions instead of words.  Compare that to the long, ridiculously mushy tirades of Anakin and Padme about being oh-so-in-love and blinded by beauty and whatever and it's easy to see which one is more believable.

Just take the above scene, for example.  Watch it again sometime, even though I'm sure you have it just as memorized as I do, and just pay attention to how they look at each other and how much is conveyed without any words.  She says three words in that scene.  He says two (well, to her, since he does tell Chewie to take care of Leia).  If the same scenario were done with Anakin and Padme she would've been screaming and crying in protest and going off on some long monologue about how she can't live without him and her heart will die with him and Anakin would've also said similar, vomit-inducing things and referred to her as "my love" or something equally cringe-worthy.  Seriously, think about that.

The subtlety is so much more powerful.  In the scene where he first kisses her, it's not so much what they are saying to each other as the body language.  They move closer together, he takes her hand and leans in... he never just blabbers on about how gorgeous she is or any crap like that.

This is certainly something we need to remember as writers of these two.  Now, surely they would say sweet things to each other from time to time, but it would be very hard to believe that either one would suddenly break down going on and on about how much they love the other one.  Honestly, I think I was guilty of this when I first started writing.  I try to be much more conscious of it now.

I don't know where I'm going with this other than needing to post something and wanting to get some conversation going on how to write the characters.  Always keep in mind that showing how much they love each other through their actions within the story goes a lot further than having several lines of dialogue of one of them saying it to the other.

And keep in mind what their favorite way to show their love for one another is ;)

27 comments:

  1. I think that was a major contributor to why this couple drew me more than A/P, even when I was 11 and first watched Star Wars. I found Anakin creepy more than endearing, and Han was such a man! Irvin Kershner did a wonderful job with these two, particularly in Empire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *I meant that their relationship was portrayed the best out of the three because of Kershner, I know he only did the one... sorry, it's late :)

      Delete
    2. Hey, POTS! Welcome back. I've missed seeing you post!! :-)

      Delete
    3. I'm always lurking about :) Thank you!

      Delete
  2. I'm currently experimenting with writing each of them in the first person, as opposed to writing in third person. This allows me to explore them internally as opposed to them being viewed by the third party (me, in the case of my own stuff).

    I do like writing dialogue between the two. I like that both of them possess an acerbic sense of humor. Nothing wrong with being a little world weary and having some schaudenfreude with breakfast. What I can appreciate is that they never seem to go over the edge to bitterness.

    I'm still learning about their emotional lives, and it's great fun. I like both of them. What the EU has failed to do, in my not especially humble opinion, is to let us into their internal lives, what they're really all about. It's as if many of the books were written with 13 year old boys in mind. I have nothing against 13 year old boys, but I don't share their tastes in literature.

    I agree that the late Mr. Kershner did an amazing job with their relationship. He made it humorous and tender at the same time, which captures the essence of them. As people, they're complicated and relationships aren't especially easy for them. It's fun to watch them grow. I've been shoving stuff on Zyra for a while now. My current attempt is to show them before ESB but after the Battle of Yavin.

    I like sap as much as the next biostatistician, but I like it tempered with irony :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. While I think Anakin and Padme are way over the top and I'm not much for their style, I did like Padme's wedding dress. I never said I wasn't shallow :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh no, the gravy train of speedo challenges is over? :-(

    Does that mean the background pic needs to come down??

    Good topic here, though and great example. That scene is just perfect, so much is exchanged between them with so little said. It's HARD to describe that look while writing, though!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thesis-length comment commencing in 3.. 2.. 1..

    Can I just go on for a minute here about how amazing this scene is? The more you learn about its filming the more interesting and impressive it gets.

    Blue Milk Special's Rod Hannah wrote a nice summary of the shooting of this scene to accompany another great BMS strip: http://www.bluemilkspecial.com/?p=5904

    I can remember pondering the notorious "I know" line for the 400th time (this is maybe 20 years ago now :) ) and finally getting its meaning. That he's telling her that he understands, that his love for her goes without saying.

    Never having had much "official" validation of this view, I was blown away when I read this quote from J. W. Rinzler's Making of Empire book, taken from a transcript of the day the scene was shot. As you probably know, Ford himself came up with the line, and he's sometimes said that he had humor in mind when he suggested it. But listen to his words on the day in question: "But if she says, 'I love you,' and I say, 'I know,' it's beautiful and it's acceptable and it's funny... The point is, I'm not worried about myself anymore; I'm worried about her."

    There is so much you can unpack in this scene, it's not even funny. So much of it is specific to its medium, though. I wonder what the differences are between showing and telling in film versus prose?

    And now I have a new project: a frame-by-frame "close reading" of this scene. Just add it to the list...

    Thanks for keeping the discussion going, Zyra!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I completely agree that it is incredibly difficult to describe such a look when it comes to writing a scene like this rather than simply watching the movie. Although with the written word, we also have the advantage of being able to read the thoughts of our characters which sort of gives us an edge there.

    I should also point out that of course there are going to be times when writing a story about these two that it is, in fact, entirely appropriate for one or both of them to offer some words of love that might be a little more over the top than the norm for them. So hopefully nobody is going to take this and say, well, now I can never have them say how much they love the other or whatever, because that's not true. I just think they pick their moments. In one of my own stories, after the babies are born Han says some pretty lovey stuff to Leia, but in that case, I decided it was timely and something he would do/say in that situation.

    On the other side, speaking of different mediums, has anyone listened to the radio dramas? Leia seems to hate Han's guts an awful lot more in it, but it seems that her constant words of disgust for him are just plain necessary when all we can do is hear the characters and can't see what is going on. Definitely a different perspective. It's also sort of funny to "listen" to them kissing :)

    Oh, and Statsgrandma, I agree on the EU and that is a major issue I have with it. One of the great things about the movies is that they have a lot of great action but at the core are these characters we're made to really care about. They practically remove all human interaction not directly related to the action itself in the books. We don't get any emotion there and the books feel sort of hollow because of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even when I worked in aerospace engineering, there was something to me about flight that transcended machinery. It was the people that imagined and built those machines for those who would fly to take a great family vacation, to mourn a dead grandparent, to see a new baby, etc. (I wanted to do commercial avionics but ended up on military.)

      The first trilogy of 4, 5 and 6 worked because it had characters that captured our imaginations and had us cheering for them, because they were deeply human (even Chewie), flawed individuals who aspired to overcome difficulty and create better lives for themselves and others. I found a lot of that lacking in episodes 1, 2 and 3. Nothing against the actors that played them, but their characters didn't really develop much.

      Delete
  7. So many good comments on this already, which I am in total agreement with.

    Have to say that the carbonite scene is my fav SW moment by a mile. There is so much emotion and feeling in there, and yet very little dialogue. The way he looks at her as he's about to disappear into the carbon freezing chamber just says so many things...I love you too, I'm sorry, I wish things could have been different, you can read so much into it just by his expression...and the mournful look she sends back to him. It's at this moment they truly understand each other for the first time I think. Anakin and Padme could only dream of being this awesome.

    And of course they say soppy things to each other, but like Zyra said, they pick the right moments, they are not constantly doing it. I think having a baby is one such time, which is why they have an "I love you" in both of my stories that focus on them deciding to start a family, it seemed fitting for the subject matter. But they are not the sort of couple who have to say it to each other a million times a day...they don't need to, they KNOW, right? And as you rightly pointed out Zyra, there is another way that they like to show they love each other ;) which is full of action, and not a whole lot of words.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Here is an interesting article written by Jennifer Heddle regarding writing for Star Wars http://starwarsblog.starwars.com/index.php/2013/04/24/the-star-wars-feel-storytelling-hallmarks-of-a-galaxy-far-far-away/. Just a note, if you have twitter you can follow Jennifer, it's how I find out about the newest stuff going on in the publishing side of things. For the main topic of actions speak louder than words.... absolutely, I am captivated by the look or gesture or grin actors bring to their characters. To me the eyes truly are the window to the soul. A true mark of a great actor/actress is when they can express so much and say so little. Sigh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip! I'm always glad to hear from women on the Lucasfilm side of things.

      Delete
  9. I agree with everything said here. I enjoy writing these two because to me they are realistic. I tend to like writing them in quite moments because they have so few in the movies. That said one of my favorite EU scenes is from COPL when they ar on their way to Dathomir and Han is telling her he wants equal time. Leia has just finished telling Han that he's asking a lot and his reply is a simple "I've got nothing left to lose."

    His reply is short and simple but it says so much, like the scene above.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I should also point out that this post is somewhat ironic coming from someone (me) who would rather write dialog than anything else. If it was possible to write only dialog, I would. That said, I have much more fun writing the witty banter dialog than the "I love you more than life itself" sort of crap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ironically, this post inspired me to write a conversation from Leia's POV that does have conversation, and loving conversation, without any mush. Sometimes you don't need to hear 'I love you;' everything else says it all.

      Delete
  11. One of the things that is so great about ESB and these two is that they have so many little looks or actions that show their relationship, rather than saying something. The scene in the picture above is my favorite (of course), the look that Han give Leia as he's standing on the platform is heartbreaking. But there's also, the look they give each other when he pulls her out of the command station on Hoth. And when he kisses her forehead on Bespin when she starts going off about no one knowing where 3PO is. I like that so much because Leia starts going on a tirade and Han just looks to the side, places his hands on her shoulders and give her a kiss.. like he's developing patience with her. Something they didn't have at the start of the movie. I think that's why they work so well as a couple, they can communicate without all the words.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just thought of another great moment between them with just a look, and no dialogue. Anyone else love that very brief moment at the end of the Rebel briefing in ROTJ when Luke arrives, huge Leia, says Hi to Han and then Han and Leia look at eachother in a totally adorable way. It's a blink and you miss it moment but it's so cute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww crap, my post should say "hugs" Leia and NOT "huge" Leia. Sorry.

      Delete
  13. There's a deleted scene on the blu-ray with an extended version of Luke in the bacta tank that contains a brief 'look' that I really love, and I sort of wish it had been left in just for that reason.

    If you haven't seen it, I wasn't able to find the video anywhere, but here's a gif version. :) http://starwarrior.tumblr.com/post/16806844199

    ReplyDelete
  14. I really wanted to reply to this earlier, but I was reading from my phone. Either way, I have to say that I totally agree with everything said here...comments and original post. The actions that Han and Leia have DO speak louder than any words they really say, and it's something that I think we, as writers, need to pay really close attention to.

    When I was writing 40 Days, specifically the ending scenes (which, happens to be the Carbon Freezing scene), I really got into the expressions they make and how that impacts everything. It was so difficult to describe the expression Han has right before the steam sweeps over him and the next time we see him he's frozen, and I honestly feel that Harrison did the most amazing job with it. I know I have pictures on my phone from that last moment, well...and every other Han and Leia moment...just to remind me of the feelings that could be pent up, and now...how Leia would interpret those as I write about the time between ESB and ROTJ.

    That scene is by far my favorite scene in any of the Star Wars films (although it's not like the prequels even had a chance here). It's odd because I honestly usually end up screaming "NOOO!" but it's still my favorite part.

    And here's a fun fact for everyone! I'm sure you all know that Harrison Ford came up with "I Know," but did YOU know that Harrison and Carrie were absolutely furious with one another when they filmed the scene? Carrie was angry they were making changes without them, and Harrison was angry with Carrie for yelling at him and so on and so forth. They weren't talking to each other whatsoever, other than through Kershner. You can thank "The Making of The Empire Strikes Back" for this story.

    Now I'm really in the mood for writing but my mind is mush since I got virtually no sleep last night...so that might not be the best of ideas.

    -epcoexpert

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, actors having tantrums. Sounds a lot like college professors. :)

      Delete
    2. It's the whole coupling of monstrous egos and massive insecurities.

      Delete
  15. Completely off topic, but have you seen the new Her Universe Han Solo tee shirt http://www.hottopic.com/hottopic/WhatsNew//Star+Wars+Her+Universe+Han+Solo+Girls+T-Shirt-10014634.jsp
    If you are not familiar with Her Universe you need to check out HerUniverse.com. Ashley has been a tremendous voice for fangirls of all ages, everywhere. We know her personally. Lots of new Star Wars stuff coming out. Again follow on Twitter for sneak peaks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That's a great shirt Seams...I am so tempted by that.

    Sigh, it will probably be the only way I will ever get Han anywhere near my boobs ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sorry to jump in late on this, but I have to agree with what has been said. This isn't a couple that requires over the top things to express their love. And the carbonite scene gets me every time. They say so much in that scene with so few words and I'm just amazed by the emotion wrapped up in it. The scene where he kisses her on the forehead is just great. Always strikes me as the type of look or thing a husband would do to placate his wife.

    Good one, Claire. :)

    ReplyDelete