Thursday, March 8, 2012

Worthy of her love...

I love Waterhouse's paintings...
For the record,  I do not believe in  Love at First Sight. Well, not true love. Lust, yes. I might go so far as to accept Good Chemistry at First Sight, but not a life-long relationship. That takes time.

When one has godlike powers over one's characters, making them fall in love is as easy as typing -- in theory. If you treat your characters as fully independent human beings and they've grown into that role as much as possible, they can fight you on that. And you should listen to your characters when they fight you, but that's another blog post.

Convincing the readers your characters are legitimately falling in love is another matter, as well. In revising Part II of my fantasy monstrosity, I'm trying to address one aspect of that which my betas brought up: worthiness.

Worthiness, for me, is shorthand for the intersection of a number of factors: sympathetic character, dangers faced, and potential reward. I've gotten snagged on one particular part of it, this time.

Sympathetic character

Readers need to be on your character's side for at least one reason. Trying to understand this interplay of words, deeds, expectations, voice... is a how-to-write book unto itself, of course. The good news is that I seem to have managed this mischief, according to my betas.

Potential reward

In romance, this is true love and the happy ending -- however you're defining that within your genre. Or however your readers are defining it. Or what the readers are willing to accept. Maybe I should ask my betas about that...

Danger

There's no tension in having things handed to your characters on a silver platter, of course. If romance is a part of the plot, then it's either threatened by the circumstances or it's creating circumstances which are a threat.

(Because if your characters were to just punch out at the end of the day and go on a hot date with no worries, it would seem pretty irrelevant to the story, wouldn't it?)

Forces threatening the relationship

This isn't the issue in my story, but it can be done quite well -- it could be war tearing the lovers apart, their families, a jealous ex-spouse...

The relationship itself creating the threat

Forbidden love, secret affairs, the danger of losing all you hold dear... somebody get a spoon, we're eating this stuff up. Trick is, both of the characters need to face consequences for engaging in the relationship. Ideally, fairly equal and fairly devastating consequences. This was where Part II hit a snag.

Confession time: this part of the story has a distant root in Titanic. Somebody somewhere commented that if Jack and Rose's social statuses had been reversed, Jack would've been some asshole out slumming for tail with a gold-digging girl and there would've been no sympathy for either of them. Well, stupid me, I set out to see if it could be made to work. (Of course it can. Anything can be made to work, right?)

So the prince and the peasant-born healer cross paths and fall hard for each other. At risk for her: her ability to continue working and developing her magical abilities, her reputation and her future marriageability. At risk for him: um... well... stern disapproval? slap on the wrist? being told to pay her off and forget her?

To be fair, the disapproval of the right person can be devastating. I've created a prince who is essentially honorable and good -- or he's be some asshole out slumming for tail -- and he would be devastated by the disapproval of the right person. He'd survive, though. He'd be willing to take whatever lumps were required, but in the end the worst thing he could lose would be her. And that's not equal to her losing both him and her future.

Also, underneath it all is the very plausible solution that the prince could just reach into the royal treasury and apply sufficient gold to make the problem go away. Set her up as his mistress on the side and if anybody has a problem with that, there's a dueling field just over here...

I doubt that would satisfy the readers, though. It's not risky. It's not honorable, so it would be out of character for him. And it the prince still isn't worthy of her love if he doesn't have something real and tangible at stake.

(Heh, one of the supporting characters would like to point out that the healer's weight in gold coin is a perfectly real and tangible stake... shush, Theo.)

This post has run long enough, so I'll ask: what risks are you story's lovers taking?

2 comments:

Bluestocking said...

I do like this idea of having something to lose for both parties that is of equal weight -- it doesn't need to be the same thing (probably wouldn't be since they're two different people) but should have the same destructive potential. Hmm. I wonder if that was the case in my hist romance... Probably not. I kept running into issue of women and social currency and rights and the fact that the woman always has more at stake the further back in history you go (gen speaking)...

L. said...

I agree, it does hit up against women's rights and the inescapable fact that the woman will always have one more stake involved then the man: pregnancy.

Well, until we can bio-engineer male uteruses. Or, hey, marsupial humans...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...