Counterpoint

“Against my will I am sent to bid you come to dinner – there’s a double meaning in that.”

I went to see Much Ado about Nothing Saturday night; it is my favorite Shakespeare play, and I have seen 5 different versions of it.  The performance I saw this weekend was excellent.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the play, there are two key roles that require excellent comic actors with amazing timing: Beatrice and Benedick.  While the main plot does not hinge on these two, the humor and atmosphere of the show settle almost entirely upon their shoulders.  (The Watch also adds humor, but not enough to carry it if B&B don’t pull it off.)  This show had a good Beatrice and probably the best Benedick I’ve seen.

Beatrice and Benedick spar verbally, trading barbs and sharpening their wits on each other, from almost the opening curtain.  Their friends decide to work very cleverly and get the two of them together.  What the audience can see from the beginning is that as much as they think it is otherwise, the two are perfectly matched.  It truly takes very little plotting on the parts of the others to get them together. 

This is a classic couple motif; the couple who are attracted but fail to realize it until the end.  There are others: one takes advantage of the other and ends up falling in love, the couple is well suited from the beginning but struggle with some big issue, etc.  Anyone who has watched chick flicks could easily add to this list.  But my favorite is the Benedick and Beatrice motif – for a movie example, check out Cutting Edge.  

I am trying to create a similar couple motif with the novel I am currently working on.  It is challenging, harder than the other relationships I’ve written.  I think I’ve figured out the two sides of it.  From her side – the guy is arrogant and he drives her crazy, so she fights her attraction to him even though she is drawn to him.  And his side is good, too.  He’s acting cold and haughty because he is her tutor, and in his own strange way he is trying to be a good guy.  Now it’s just a matter of conveying that in words and scenes, and building the whole relationship effectively.  

In Much Adoyou want Beatrice and Benedick to get together.  You want the couple to figure it out in the end.  If I write the characters, the emotions, and the interactions just right, the reader will be happy with the relationship.  If not, the whole book will fall flat.  There’s a lot riding on this…  better get it right!!