Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Food, Sex, and Violence--Does Your Character Need Some?

I had an interesting discussion with a friend about what usually makes for a riveting story. On some group or another, she came across the comment that sex, food, and violence are often woven into story lines, albeit in differing measures and proportions.

This made sense to me, as they're all basic drives and speak to the human condition. What gets more primal and raw than sex and violence? They're definitely attention grabbers. Even if these happenings make us uncomfortable, we often can't look away, at least for long. They grip us and hold us in thrall.

And food? Not only do we need it to live, but food can be highly sensual, say, in a romance or highly disturbing in a horror flick.

For romance readers and writers, the most important basic need is undoubtedly love. But other primal drives add conflict and richness to a love story that would otherwise be lacking.

Because ultimately, we humans always want something, and our fiction should portray that. I guess it really does come down to GMC (goal--what the character wants; motivation--why character wants it; and conflict--what's stopping the character from having it).

So everyone go pick up a good book and get your drive on!

Lisa Kumar


Boxing Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Couple eating apple: Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Casea Major said...

Very interesting post, Lisa. Back in college, my Sociology professor had done a study about how violence effects a man's sexual drive. What he found was they are inextricably linked. I don't find it hard to make the assumption that all the basic needs are linked in this way.

Thanks for sharing.

Brenda said...

Cool post--definitely food for thought--get it, food, and your post was about food....okay, it was about more than just food, but still, hehehehe.
But seriously, awesome post.
And I totally agree with Casea. I can see how most drives are linked together.

D'Ann said...

Good post!

I usually have some form of violence in my mss. I have never given it much thought before, I just like to have fight scenes, or some kind of deaths. Hmmmmm...wonder what that says about me???

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kary, Brenda, and D'Ann!

I do believe the drives are all interrelated and need to be satisfied before the character can move onto higher, less basic drives.

D'Ann--nothing wrong with having deaths and violence! Like I said, these all speak to some primal emotion within us. These occurrences might not be comfortable, but they're gripping! And well, they drive us as humans!

For my next post, I'm going to take a look at Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Lol, I was a psych. major in college.

Brenda said...

Looking forward to that post!

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks, Brenda! Me, too. I'm glad I already have a topic planned:)

Carrie Ann Ryan said...

I like your ideas and I totally agree! Great post!

Sheri Fredricks said...

I don't do violence. Never have, never will. I've never read a love story that needed them. And if you believe that...LOL I never thought about how the three things are tied together before, but you're right. I know stress and eating are tied together. I'm living proof.

Jenna said...

I discovered early on that any kind of heightened event, not just violence, but a scare of any kind or an adventure raised my libido and that of the people around me--unless it was just us. LOL But I've read a lot that ties sex and violence together. These are the strongest drives, as is the drive for survival, i.e. food.

I think it's funny you're going to do a post on Maslow. I'd thought about doing that as well. We teach it regarding persuasive speaking and how we persuade on an emotional level for each of his categories. Great minds, Lisa! LOL

Great post. :)

Lisa Kumar said...

Thanks for stopping by, Carrie, Sherri, and Jenna!

Sherri--lol, no one story has to have all basic drives, but even heightened anger has a way of grabbing our attention, just like a smoking love scene.

My heroes aren't violent with their heroines (even when they want to throttle them), and I tend to not have that many battle scenes, either, even though I write fantasy romance. Lol, I probably write too sweet for the really swashbuckling crowd.

Jenna--I can't agree with you more. There are studies that if you want to have a second date with somebody, you have to make sure you do something exciting with them! A roller coaster ride or anything that gets the blood pumping will be attributed to you indirectly;)