05 June 2007

If Movies Were Books...

Whenever the kids let me, I love to slink off with a good book. I'd say, curl up with a good book, but the kids won't let me do that. And whenever they get their wakeful heineys to bed at a decent hour, I also love to watch a good romance movie. One thing I've found when watching movies, though -- as a fiction writer well-versed in today's speculative romance market, I can't help but compare the movies to current fiction on the shelves. How they are alike. How they are different. Whether this movie would make a great romance novel or if it should be more LIKE this particular romance novel. That sort of thing.

Just for fun and discussion, here's an alphabetized list of relatively recent speculative romance movies and my thoughts on how they'd fare as romance novels. One of my requirements, in order to cut down on the list, is that the movie have a relatively standard HEA, so Ghost, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Somewhere In Time, though enjoyable love stories, won't be showing up. Another requirement is that the romance has to be a major plot or subplot screentime-wise, so I won't list movies like the LOTR trilogy. That being said....

13 Going On 30: Jennifer Garner's character was 13 years old in a grown woman's body, technically, and the hero, a friend she'd been mean to in the past, was totally beta. While a bodyswapping premise has been used to great effect in spec romance, I don't think a heroine with a 13 year old mentality having the type of...adult relationships that take place in today's romances would fly. Sort of like Barbara Cartland chick lit, but as a movie it was cute. And I have a weak spot for guy next door heroes, who show up a LOT more frequently in romance movies than they do in romance novels.

Blast from the Past: The hero and his parents locked themselves into a fallout shelter by accident and sent the hero into the outside world to find supplies when he was grown. The hero is a boyscout character instead of a leather-clad, angsty growler, but the heroine was a good fit for today's market -- cynical, attractive and dubious about the hero, despite the fact he was an amazing dancer and...literally...kissed her feet in a surprisingly sultry scene. Technically there weren't any TRUE paranormal or sf elements, but as far as the hero was concerned, this was a futuristic romance.

Ever After: Cinderella story with an earthy, practical heroine and a slightly bossy prince who nevertheless becomes enchanted with our heroine after a rowdy cute meet. AND she maintains a dual identity for part of the movie, giving them a reason to remain romantically apart until the end. Yeah, I think this one could work as one of today's paranormal romances.

Groundhog Day: This might seem like an odd choice, but it's got paranormal and it's got romance and it's got a hero who starts out very much in need of a character arc! He's a cynical playboy when he gets trapped in one of those "live the same day over and over again" loops. Turns out the thing to get him out of the loop is... Oh, I won't spoil that, but it involves the heroine. Unless there was a lot of sex thrown in, I can't see this one getting published as a straight up paranormal romance novel -- the author would need to go to a quirky, risk-taking small press to publish what is, in the end, a very charming love story. Somewhere like Samhain *heh*.

Just Like Heaven: Of all the movies on my growing list, this one follows the typical progression of a mainstream romance novel very closely. The heroine dies but her spirit is trapped in her old apartment...where the hero tries to move in. She's high strung, he's laid back. She's angry, he's determined to help, once he figures out what's going on. However shall they get down to business with the heroine being noncorporeal and all that? Okay, he's more beta than most romance heroes in fiction, but the structure of the movie and the ending are definitely worth the comparision.

Kate & Leopold: Time travel where Lord Darcy is transported to modern day America and... Well, he's not really Darcy, but close enough. The progress of the hero and heroine's relationship, while Hollywood-ized and fraught with subplots and time apart, approximates the structure of a paranormal romance novel pretty well, in my opinion. I think this one might be a sale!

LadyHawke: Shapeshifting, star-crossed love, adventure, magic.... But it's not suited to today's paranormal romance market. Nope, it's romantic fantasy. The hero and heroine are already in love at the start of the book but cursed to be shifted into an inappropriate-for-love form when the other one is human. Plus the heroine was weak instead of the kick-butt shifter one might expect in today's fiction. Which doesn't make this a bad movie, mind you!

The Lake House: A movie whose premise relies on the hero and heroine to be uncurious and unable to use the internet. As a romance film, it had some stellar moments and interesting twists, but the hero and heroine weren't together enough for this to be a workable paranormal romance novel. There wasn't a lot of sparkle or adventure, though there was a good helping of angst.

The Lost Boys: I'm mentioning this one because I felt like there needed to be at least one vampire entry in my movie list to better represent today's paranormal romance market. The hero was good looking, but young -- but he did have him some angst and he got to participate in some huge action sequences. The heroine's role was primarily as a love interest, since it was more of a movie that revolved around the hero's arc instead of the romance. I'd say this one was an urban fantasy with a strong romantic subplot but not a paranormal romance.

Next time I post....9 more movies and how they'd fare as paranormal romance novels! What movies do you think fit in this category? How are they like and unlike books being published by today's romance publishers? Share your favorite movie finds!

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