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Hello, and welcome to the LA Stories. Enjoy a dip into romance in the city of creative dreams!

On Realism & Milieu

June 21, 2018

So, the L.A. stories are obviously (I hope) set in Los Angeles.  There's something about this city that may not be readily apparent to people who don't live here, which is:

the city is chock full of beautiful people.

I mean, LOADED.  They are everywhere.  And that is, in part, due to the simple fact that Los Angeles is the center of the entertainment industry in the United States - an industry which employs thousands of people full-time and more thousands part-time or as contractors.

The beautiful-people quotient also, in my opinion, owes a lot to the diversity of the city.  We have every kind of people here.  But it's worth considering that a person described as "beautiful" could be so to a large chunk of the population, or to a segment, or maybe just to a single person.

When you're writing romance, this is important.  Romantic leads have to be attracted to each other.  Even if writing an asexual character!  Because attraction isn't always purely physical.

Anyway, speaking of attraction ...

As the nation's biggest entertainment employer, of course the city attracts people who want a chance at cracking the business.  This includes writers and voice artists and costume artists and makeup artists and personal trainers and hair designers and set dressers (just a few behind-the-camera categories) as well as the more obvious actors, models, singers, dancers, etc.

Not everyone can be a star.  A lot of people work on the fringes, doing bit parts and single-day shoots and extra/background jobs, or on crews.  

And, inevitably, people need to do other jobs to pay their bills, because the city is expensive.  It's huge, it takes money to get around a territory this big, housing is costly, and the services that a performer may need are not free.

Thus, just in my personal circle of acquaintance, I can account for numerous writers, models, actors, singers, musicians, and dancers who work, or have worked, at various levels as professionals - while also doing day jobs that brought them into contact with me.  I've had at least one dance instructor who had a SAG card (i.e. he was in the Screen Actors Guild) and at least one law-office co-worker who is in the WGA (Writers Guild of America).  

I have even been an extra myself a couple of times, and I've danced on a proper stage for a show that people paid to see.

Anyway, all this is to say that if the L.A. Stories may seem like they are set in La La Land, well ... they kind of are.  But it actually is what I see around me.  

Another point:

I'm not writing about people who fail.  It's hard to write a happy romance about people who fail.  Maybe not impossible, for someone with more fortitude or craft than I have, but hard, and for me it wouldn't be fun.  My characters may run into barriers, but I'm going to get them over those, one way or another.

That said, I hope that I show that my L.A. characters work.  They do not lie around waiting for someone to bring them success.  They are - even the lawyer characters! - creative.  For me, "creative" is a positive.

There's something else worth saying about successful entertainers: they almost uniformly have charm.  People who have no charm have to have an order of magnitude more talent - or backing - to succeed, in any field, than people who can readily make themselves liked.

Charm isn't necessarily authentic, or rather intrinsic, unless you are George Clooney.  It is, I suspect, in many cases part of the Performance Of Me that is required of professional entertainers.  

But, like anything, if you practice it you tend to get better at it.  And when you are good at something, and that something gets you the results you want ... you tend to gradually become what you do.  It becomes second nature.  You aren't just charming to the people who can give you something; it's habitual.  So it's a self-reinforcing practice.

Since I do have a day job, I don't have to concern myself with writing about anything except what I want to write about.  Which, at present, happens to be happy romances.  

All of which, believe it or not, are inspired - to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the story - by people I have actually known, or at least met, here in L.A.

The city itself, I'm ambivalent about.  But the people? 

Yeah, I (mostly) love 'em.

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