Relationship Goals

MADAM SECRETARY, elizabeth mccord, henry mccord, relationship goals
Just Another Normal Day — While Elizabeth works to successfully broker a peace treaty between China and Japan, a Chinese student seeking political asylum threatens the deal. Meanwhile, tensions rise at home between Alison and Stevie during Alison\’s sleepover party, on MADAM SECRETARY, Sunday, Oct. 12 (8:01-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Henry McCord (Tim Daly) and Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni), shown. Photo: Barbara Nitke/CBS ©2014 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

As a writer, I always write a love story into my novels even if it’s not ultimately what the story is about. I don’t write romance. But I’m a sucker for a good love story, just the same. I’ve been reading a lot so far this year and I’m picking up on some trends in these relationships that I’m not a huge fan of. Mostly I get a little uncomfortable with characters who don’t seem to have much in the way of . . . hmm, what’s the word? Imperfections.

The novel I’m reading now is not my favorite, in general. But oddly enough, the hero – who I’m supposed to adore (because a ton of other women do), is kind of the worst part. He’s too much. He’s too much of everything. He’s unreal. If I met this guy in real life, I’d be a little suspicious of him. I already know what’s ahead, because I’ve seen the television series based on the book. He’s less perfect on the show – which is slightly more comforting. But overall, he’s written this way in the novel (perfect), without realistic negative characteristics. It’s sheer fantasy.

Reading this book has made me realize a fault in a character I’d written previously and in the hero in my novel in progress. Reading is an escape. It can be fun to read books and watch movies that aren’t terribly realistic on one hand. On the other, if the characters don’t ring true, ultimately I’m not going to like the book, show, or movie.

Elizabeth McCord:
[At the sight of Henry repairing gutters in a light snow] Well, there’s a sight that never gets old. You know, if men knew how sexy they looked fixing stuff, they’d never stop.

Henry McCord:
I can’t feel my hands.

I’ve been re-watching “Madam Secretary” over the last week or so. I tend to re-watch my favorite shows or movies when I don’t know what else to watch. If you haven’t seen it before, “Madam Secretary” is a television show about the Secretary of State. She is a former CIA operative and her husband was a Marine pilot that later went on to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency, after a career as an academic. I love shows or movies about politics or current affairs and this show has some episodes that are ripped from the headlines. There is plenty of intrigue and political wrangling.

But the reason I adore this show is because of the relationship between the Secretary of State (Elizabeth McCord) and her husband, Henry. These two are relationship goals. They are partners in every sense of the word. Their affection for each other is obvious – they have a cute relationship. But the best part of their marriage, in my opinion, is their deep respect for each other and the advice they seek and give to each other. They argue. They don’t always agree. This is real life. Their relationship, however, doesn’t suffer over time. The conflict only draws them closer together as they remain committed to their marriage and each other, whatever happens.

This is the kind of relationship I want. It’s also the kind of relationship I want to write about. As I work on two different writing projects, this is foremost in my mind. I hate reading or watching what could be a great couple/relationship that is entirely built on infatuation with characters that are so perfect it’s creepy.

Who wants to read about a couple or hero/heroine that is so good, they come off as trouble waiting to happen? I’d take the imperfections any day. In the book I’m reading now, the hero is so perfect – even his troublesome character flaw is rooted in his status as a hero. I’d take an Elizabeth and Henry McCord relationship, kind of relationship – over this relationship in the novel, any day.

I aspire to write characters like the McCords.

Writing a Novel ~ Part One

I’m not a great planner when it comes to writing. I’m an artist. I’d rather just follow whatever crazy trail my muse takes me down, as I write.

But there are things that inspire me or keep me pressing ahead – though I’m not a huge fan of planning (we’re called seat of the pants writers).

I thought I’d share a few posts in the next few weeks that cover some of the process of writing a novel or the things that inspire me and keep me focused.

Up first? Music! Lordy, I couldn’t get through a day without it.

But for writing, it’s often a necessary component of staying in the moment. And by in the moment, I mean that real life keeps me distracted for the vast majority of my day. If I can keep the music going that inspires me, and fit in bits of research here or there – when I can actually find time to write, it’s not as hard to get back to the right spot. For instance, a few nights ago, I wrote a portion of the prologue to my new novel.

But I have a lot of work to do on it still. The music keeps me thinking about the plot, characters, and working through the “issues” that pop up as I work on the plot.

When it comes to writing, I can and do listen to a lot of different things. My favorite writing stations on Pandora include my “Mumford & Sons” and “coldplay” stations. But I also will switch it up and listen to a variety of classic rock stations – especially if they’re Fleetwood Mac/Eagles themed.

But Spotify is where I tend to land most of the time. A few of my favorites, which you can find, here – are:

Coffee Casa (an xm playlist – The Coffee House station is almost enough to make me want to pay for XM Radio.)

Sunday Morning Jazz

Evening Acoustic

Sunday Nights if You Were Here

With my new novel, I decided to start a playlist of songs that remind me of the characters and their story. It’s called, like the novel itself – a thousand years. You can find it here.

As I write, there will always be different moments within the plot that bring up different moods. The music I’m listening to always reflects that.

It helps me to feel more connected to my characters. With a thousand years, that feels particularly true.

Next up I’ll share how an idea for a book takes shape in the first place and how I decide where and what to start writing.

If you’re one of the writers that follows me, are you one that has to sit in the quiet to write, or are you a white noise/music person like me?