New development in Mars (the drama series I’ve been watching) that has left me in tears:

It turned out the girl had been raped by her stepfather in the past. That’s why she’s afraid of her boyfriend, afraid to get physical with him. Her boyfriend suspected she might have been raped and pretended to try to get physical, but she screamed and cried and his worst fears were confirmed.

She ran and hid in one corner of his apartment, sobbing. And he quietly asked her who did it. And then he teared up. His head was bent down and his tears slid down the bridge of his nose. I think I mentioned before how Vic’s acting really impressed me. This really blew me away.

I know a lot of people who aren’t impressed by Asian dramas, but I think back on all the times I’d scoffed at those dramas and realise how much I’ve missed out. Think of all the three-dimensional characters I could have come up with, and the plotlines I could have gleaned. Think how much richer that would have made my stories.

Mars is really something, if not mind-blowing.

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I’ve been busy these few days.

Busy collecting ideas.

This might come as a shock, but I’m watching an Asian drama series called Mars now. It stars Vic Zhou and Barbie Hsu (or however you spell their names). This sudden addiction to drama series was sparked by my sudden reminiscence that led me to watch Meteor Garden again. I remember how it was all the rage when I was about 11 or 12. Everyone watched it, or at least had heard of it. My friends and I were nuts about it, if only because it was so darn romantic. I know, what did we know about romance at the age of 11 or 12, right? But it’s not like I’m any wiser about it now, at 19, so what the hell.

I’d intended to take a detached view this time round. I’d laugh at the cheesy lines and cringe-worthy acting. Honestly, I don’t even know what made me decide to watch it. Maybe it’s the drought that’s come over the romantic genre. No romance novels, no romance TV shows. It is inherently a feminine desire, I suppose, to crave such ostensibly frivolous escapism.

So I watched it.

I did laugh at the cheesy lines. But what surprised me was how well-developed the characters were. As a writer – as well as an emotionally more matured person than I was at 11 (I hope) – it struck me immediately how special each character was. No two characters had the same personality, and each was conveyed through their actions and speech. There was subtlety in that, and I found myself drawn in by the show once again.

I remember how I rooted for Si (this arrogant a-hole who rules the school, along with his 3 other friends that forms the legendary F4) and the female protagonist, SC. But this time round, I found Lei (oh, Lei…) the more matured one, the more noble one, the more tenderhearted and long-suffering one.

Just after a few episodes of watching how Vic conveyed his character (I was more impressed by his acting skills than I’d originally expected), I slept on it and came up with a Shiny New Idea for a new story. I’d thought of a plot beforehand, that day when I went to the pier with my dad, but I was lacking in the character department. I had the conflict, and the setting, but the characters were still the stiff, two-dimensional stick figures I kept coming up with. This might be it. This might be the key to creating someone I had never dealt with before.

Oh, and I watched Meteor Garden 2 after finishing the first one. And can I just say that it really wasn’t as good as the first. It was too draggy, and Si’s amnesia was overly dragged out (spanning 15 episodes or so). Plus, they introduced this new girl (played by Michelle Saram) who was supposed to be Si’s new love interest. Everyone protested vehemently then, and swore they would boycott the show if Si didn’t end up with SC. So the producers had to change the scenes a little and let them end up together after all. Thank goodness. But that leaves my brokenhearted Lei all alone again. I actually cried several times while watching it, believe it or not. I don’t usually cry over romance movies because I’m unable to relate to the situation or the characters, but Vic’s acting and the storyline (where SC was left bereft because Si had fallen for someone else, after ALL that they’ve been through) was incredibly moving. So, yes. I am a sap. I am a woman, emotional and irrational. And now I need my fix of romantic narratives.

So I’m watching Mars now. It’s a lot like the story I’m planning out now, about two damaged people who find the future in each other. Mars is about this bad boy motorbike racer who has a dark secret, and who falls in love with a shy, autistic girl. His twin committed suicide and his mother died when he was 5, and he’s deeply traumatised by their deaths, so much so that he displays sudden violent tendencies and had been locked in a psych ward by his father before. So the story’s about how the two of them make each other face their fears and dark pasts, and lean towards each other when their inner demons get the better of them. It’s a lot more intense than Meteor Garden, obviously, but I prefer MG, because of the comic relief and the romance (oh, Lei…), though Mars is shaping up to be just as good.