Terminator 2 was on cable tonight. I remember being mightily disappointed when T2 was originally released that Michael Biehn’s character, Kyle Reese, wasn’t in the movie. Reese was later added, briefly, in a director’s cut of T2, but those were the days before DVDs and multiple releases of multiple versions of a movie a few months after its theatrical run, and I was annoyed that the part of T1 that gripped me the most seemed all but abandoned in the sequel.
See, I’m in it for the love story.
The Terminator is one of my all-time favorite movies. Lovers across time fighting a seemingly invincible foe with the fate of humanity in the balance. Talk about your high stakes! Good character arc for Sarah Connor too, as one of the writers at Thrillerfest’s writing workshop, Craftfest, pointed out in his talk. But every time I see that movie, I want to rewrite the ending. I want Kyle and Sarah to be together for more than one night, dammit, and no matter how many times I watch the movie, one night is all they get.
So now I write stories about lovers who overcome impossible odds, and the lovers get to stay together. Not to say I’m not mean to my characters along the way — where would the drama be without that? — but for the most part, the drama and tension come from outside the relationship, not from a faithless partner or jealous lover. Any relationship requires sacrifices to keep it afloat, and there’s drama and tension in that too.
Do I write about single, divorced, widowed characters? Characters who are scumbags, serial daters, players and con men (and women)? Of course, because those characters are fun. But when I write about lovers, I think Sarah and Kyle are alive there in the back of my mind, reminding me of all the times I wanted to change the end of their movie.