The Formula of Desire

I’ve seen all the truly good movies, which means I haven’t begun to see any. The more you know, the less you know. Socrates goes to the movies, and now, so do I. There’s never enough TV.

I get worried sometimes that all my blog content lately is movie and food and beauty related—less emotions, introspection, and daily life-recording, which is what I’m made of—but then I remember that I’m movie-, food-, and beauty- focused. Own it.

I’m into storytelling and have always been fascinated by “the formula.” My kids learn a bit of it now in school—not about act structure and plot points, but about the formula of desire. Doesn’t that sound magical?

No, they haven’t returned from school with an assignment to see 50 Shades Darker (in an exercise of what not to do). It’s a phrase that’s just now, as I type this, inked its way onto my page with a heavy hand. It’s intriguing. What is the formula of desire?

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and all the focus on love and desire, it’s fitting that we should go here first: rejection.

Rejection is the frenemy of desire.

Tell me can’t. I’ll can. We’re near ready to break up with someone, but they beat us to the punch, and now we can’t eat. I know he was wrong for me, but still. We want to be wanted. It’s a Cheap Trick.

To be desired, you have to appear desirable. Play by the rules of Ladylike Lane. I can’t make you love me if you don’t? I ain’t quite buyin’ it. Because if you play it right, you can. But, what happens once the Charmings are married? You got the thing you desired (by playing the game) now how do you maintain a desire to keep it? You still end up with me.

Not Quite Ivanka

The Heiress is a 1949 American drama film starring Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift. Written by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, adapted from their 1947 play.

Academy Award Winner

Best Actress
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
Original Music Score

The Heiress

31 Days of Oscar

TCM is my favorite TV Channel. This month they’re showing “31 DAYS OF OSCAR®” offering up entire days full of only Academy Award winning films!

The Heiress: A young woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.

There is an art to preventing a story from becoming too predictable, especially given how well we can ID a formula. In The Heiress I delighted in agony, wanting to know if this handsome suitor was a fortune hunter or if he desired the heiress for her other charms.

UPDATE: I just turned on Netflix and discovered a feature titled, And The Oscar Goes To… from TCM!

Oscar Goes To...

L. Beckett wasn’t sure of the formula of desire exactly, but he did explain the writing process they use at school when crafting realistic fiction:

  1. THE PROBLEM and what we think might be THE SOLUTION.
  2. Describe the traits of your protagonist.
    We look at a line drawing of a mountain, and we attach three separate attempts to have the desire met, written on Post-it notes that climb to the climax. The character attempts to solve the problem. Sometimes he fails and tries something new, or he gets what he wants but realizes there’s a bigger problem he hadn’t seen. Once he reaches the climax, the Post-it notes work their way down the other side toward the solution.

Why didn’t I have children sooner?

I could discuss this for days. It amazes me that when I penned my memoirs I didn’t study a lick about story structure. I just told my stories without analyzing suspense or tension or when to reveal the corpse in the cargo.

Post contains affiliate links. All opinions are mine all mine.



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