Disclaimer: This may or may not be writing-related. We'll see.
Yes, you may have noticed my John Hughes obsession this week. Two days ago I talked about The Breakfast Club and now I'm going to tackle the film "Pretty in Pink". So bear with me because I absolutely LOVE this movie and it's probably my favorite out of all the John Hughes' films.
High School senior Andie Walsh lives on the "wrong side of the tracks" with her unemployed father who is still devastated by his broken marriage. Phil "Duckie" Dale is Andie's bestfriend, who happens to be in love with her but plays this off as a joke in front of Andie because he doesn't know how to tell her of his feelings. But Andie falls in love with Blane Donough, who is one of the rich, preppy kids in her school, and in turn, Blane falls for Andie. The "richie" kids (Blane's friends) discourage Blane from dating Andie, and Duckie gets mad with Andie for dating Blane. Classic West Side Story front, though no one dies in this one.
When Blane starts believing his friends and begins avoiding Andie, even going as far as breaking off their prom date, Andie grieves for awhile, knowing full well that the reason for Blane's distance was due to her economic circumstance. Nevertheless, she goes to the prom with a dress she made herself to show them "that they can't break me". Duckie escorts her in, and Blane realizes what a fool he'd been all along. He tells her that he'd always love her, that he believed in her but didn't believe in himself, and then he walks away. Andie finds him in the parking lot and they kiss.
Wai-i-i-t... you thought I cried over the part where Blane broke up with Andie? Uh, no. See, I'm the kind of person who roots for the underdogs. The brokenhearted. The downtrodden. If I could wield a hammer (ala Thor style), I could totally be their champion. So, I cried for DUCKIE.
Yep, you read that right. When Duckie was in Andie's room talking to himself, about how much he loved "this woman" and then he started singing, I mean...gosh darn it. The poor kid had always been devoted to Andie. I mean, sure he's cheesy, and a tad bit annoying, and though I knew...I KNEW...that it wasn't was NEVER going to turn into an Andie-Duckie love story, I still felt for the boy. Ahhhh...so much for unrequited love.
I also cried at the scene between Andie and her father, when Andie realized that her dad never got the job and yet there he was, giving her this pink dress so she could make something out of it to wear to the prom. When Andie confronted her dad, it came out how he was still mourning his marriage. How he loved Andie's mom who didn't love him enough to stay with them. And how this was affecting his life--part of the reason why he wouldn't go and get a job. He'd been hoping that life would somehow go back to the way it was before, only it wasn't going to. Ever. Sigh, sigh. So much for betrayed love.
And then there's Blane. I really DISLIKED him when he listened to his rich friend what's-his-name and began to ignore Andie's phone calls. Good thing I didn't have Thor's hammer or I probably would have accidentally thrown it at him. Or more precisely, at the TV. Which wouldn't have been good at all. (Um, honey, yeah...I'm really sorry for breaking your HD Plasma Widescreen 60" TV...) He was a guy who , at first glance, seemed to have nothing to lose. He could've been a jerk and walked away from the relationship and it wouldn't have been as devastating for him as it would have been for Andie. So yeah, boo! But he redeemed himself, and he really did love Andie, so it's ok. :)
The best thing about the movie (and I think I can relate this to writing *high five!*) is Andie's character. She is a strong but sympathetic protagonist. She knows what she wants, she has morals, and she values the important things. I loved her relationship with her father, how she took care of him and loved him unconditionally. Andie was a girl who could think for herself. No pansy-schmancy here.
And this makes her a well-developed character. I'm not saying that protagonists have to be all butt-kicking, warrior-like Xenas to prove that they are made of tough stuff. It's the inner growth that counts. When Andie, despite her heartbreak, went to the prom to show them that the richie kids haven't broken down her spirit, I was applauding for her.
As you can tell, I really got emotionally invested in the film. If your book or characters can do that to me too, then you're doing something right. ;)
Let your characters grow, give them depth, and make them relatable. Give them spirit, give them life. And yes, they don't have to wield a hammer, they can be pretty in pink.
I'm a YA writer who loves to read. Also a mom of 3. My life is crazy but always fun. :) I'm a member of The YA Club, a group blog about YA books.
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Represented by the lovely Julia A. Weber of J. A. Weber Literaturagentur GmbH.
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