Love is one of the master plots of literature. It’s been a staple in Modern English since the days of Shakespeare, and it’s the stuff of world literature going back to the days of the Sumerians.
The story is as simple as they come:
- One love is the protagonist, who does most of the “doing.”
- The second love waits passively for something to happen.
- Better yet, the second love is more active in the “something that happens,” but in any case, that second love’s action is secondary to the protagonist’s.
- There may be an antagonist (or more than one) who serves as a villain and creates the obstacle.
- Or, it may just be what we conveniently call Fate actually conspiring against their happiness.
It’s your story, you decide.
Since we know conflict is fundamental to fiction, we also know “Boy Meets Girl” isn’t enough. It has to be “Boy Meets Girl, But…” The story hinges on the “But…” We all know that “but” only means that everything that came before it was total crap.
Nothing is ever as simple as X meets Y. The basic lesson of all love stories is simple: Love that hasn’t been tested isn’t true love. Love must be proved, preferably (in fiction) through hardship and conflict.
In other words, there are obstacles to love that keep the lovers from consummating their affair.
Sometimes the lovers are within social norms: their choice of mate pleases everyone, including themselves. But situations arise that aren’t conducive to love, and people won’t condone it. Sometimes, the lovers have a decent chance of overcoming the obstacles that make their affair rough-sailing. Other times, they pay for their folly with their lives.
Confusion. Misunderstanding. General silliness like mistaken identities. Any of these things, and more, can be obstacles to the lovers and the consummation of their story.
In literature, love is seldom easy to find, and if it is, it’s not often easily kept. Often the story of love is frustration, because someone or something always gets in the way. The source of these obstacles can come from anywhere in the universe, especially in a fantasy novel. Sometimes, fate itself seems to conspire against the lovers from eight o’clock in the morning, day one.
What I Learned Writing A Love Story
Any opportunity to set a stretch goal for oneself is a good opportunity, as long as one remembers the value of failures. In writing a fantasy action-romance, I had to learn a few lessons about what makes a good love story.
- The answer lies more with the characters than with the actions, it’s a character-driven plot. Successful love stories work because of the “chemistry” between the lovers. Clever turns and gimmicks in the story are great, but if the lovers aren’t convincing in a special way, the love-story falls flat.
- It’s easy to fall back on stereotypes when developing characters for a love-story. It’s such a common trope that influences from everywhere abound. But to write about two (or more) characters who are unique, you must delve into the psychology of people and love.
- The first attempt to overcome the obstacle is almost always thwarted. Don’t forget the “Rule of Three”: The first two attempts fail, the third time’s the charm.
- A love story needn’t have a happy ending. But it should have a “happening” ending, an ending that shows us what happened to the would-be lovers, for good or ill.
- A love story is a story about love denied and either re-captured or lost.
And the most important thing that I learned from the ideas that arose was that love exists, even when the lovers are far distant.
And this got me thinking about the most important part of the process: community.
No matter how much we want to believe the myth of the self-made man or woman, it’s just not true. At critical moments in life, we all need help from others. For me, those people included my partner, my daughters, and a few important mentors.
So when I went back to rewrite The Romance of Eowain, I realized I couldn’t do it alone. If this book was going to explore the questions it was meant to do, I was going to need help. Which is why if you read the book today, you’ll see something awesome about the nature of love.
The Romance of Eowain was an effort I couldn’t have completed on my own and shouldn’t have tried. Because every story of love is really a story of community.
Join my Media Team
Once again, I’m asking for help. I believe in this message. I believe we all have a choice in love, and it’s never an easy one. And sometimes we need help getting to that choice.
When I decided to make the ebook available for free to anyone who bought the print edition, the idea was to create a generous offer that would help the book spread. Now, I want to take it to the next level, which is where you come in.
My book come out in a month, and I’m starting to line up media interviews. But since The Romance of Eowain is about how ordinary stories can become extraordinary, I don’t want to stick to just the traditional media channels.
So if you have a podcast or a blog or newsletter and want to interview me, I’d love to connect with you. I’ll do everything in my power to make this happen, but there are no guarantees. The best thing you can do is apply early and provide a great idea for how to get the word out.
If you’re interested in interviewing me about my book, click here to fill out the form.
Also, whether or not you’re in the media, I’d love for you answer the question below and leave a comment for a chance to win a free book.
What out-of-the-box idea for promoting my book do you have? On Wednesday, 8 June 2016, I’ll pick the top five ideas and send you a free copy of the book. Share your idea in the Comments.