However, this movie fell a bit short for me. Why? Well, while there were some fun parts to it, there were also some "I'm going to shove the emotion down your throat" moments, too. And those will ruin it for me every time. I won't give anything away, since it just came out on DVD and likely there are people looking forward to seeing it. But I will say that some things just didn't make sense, but they happened anyway, and felt terribly contrived. As if the writer/director believed they'd get more tears from their audience by going in a particular direction, even if it didn't make any sense.
Don't get me wrong, though. It's still a comedy, so nothing really terrible happens, which might explain why the big emotional scenes felt so out of place for me.
What does this have to do with anything, you might ask? Well, it got me thinking about my writing. While fiction allows - and often calls for - a bit of drama, I think it's a fine line we walk between drama and melodrama. And when we write big emotional scenes, I think it's incredibly important that we make sure the drama makes sense. Would the character(s) really do this? Would they react to this situation in this manner?
What's hard is when you're writing from experience. You might pour all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that you had into the scene, but when you read it back you might realize you had maybe overreacted. Or perhaps the way you reacted really isn't how your character would react. You're simply imposing the reaction on your characters out of a desire for catharsis. Trust me, I've done this many times, and when I read back through the manuscript, I think, "Why is she doing this? So-and-so wouldn't react like this!" And there goes another rewrite :)
So I use It's Complicated as a cautionary tale. Be true to your characters. They aren't you, the writer. They have their own personalities, their own character, their own hopes and dreams, and you must dig deep into their psyche - not yours - to find out how they would react to the situation. Otherwise, you'll have a big ol' pile of melodrama that will leave readers scratching their heads.
-Jerrica, Her Grace of Grammar