As a high school teacher, every year I get to watch my students go through hyper-romantic antics getting ready for Valentine’s Day. At our school it starts in late January with the Tolo, designed to help fund the yearbook costs. Between the silliness of creative asking moments, the quests to find matching shirts and the debates over dinner reservations, the students manage to turn themselves into something approaching sensitive romantics. For me it is a nice departure from their seasonal cynicism. These last few days of candy grams and candy-kiss roses, and Terri-Lynne’s post about the not so happy ending got me thinking about love and how we use it in our stories. And I am not talking about the ‘falling in love’ that provides so many possible conflicts and complications; or the emotional outbursts that come during tales of extreme danger, quests magnificent, rebellions or wars most martial. I’m talking about love long term and its role in story.
Perhaps I’m being disingenuous, but I just don’t come across too many tales that include a long term relationship. Some of the pair-bonds in the Pern novels come to mind, hints and nuances appear in Tolkien’s work, and I am sure there are others. In fact, I’d like for anyone who reads this to post a response spreading the word about those other works. I don’t think the list is as long as it probably should be. Rather, we see stuff like Trystan and Isuelt, Arthur and Guenivere; the love in conflict, threatened, betrayed or lost just seems more prevalent. Even Aragorn and Arwen only got 120 years before she had to taste the bitterness of his passing.
I wonder why?
The easy answer, hinted at above, is that long-term love, stability, nurturance, quiet and peace just won’t sell. Where are the dramatic elements that provide for character growth, complication, that all important element of danger so important to plot?
’s next two
decades like? That story didn’t get written, and I think the lack is a shame (cue
the opening sequence to Up). I just don’t think it happens enough,
especially in our genre. Check the stacks of the local bookstore. How many
covers imply happily ever after in pair-bond-wedded bliss? Elizabeth
I’m guilty of this in my own fiction. Love seems to be a vital element in my stories. King’s Gambit deals with a war, but as I revised and re-wrote certain parts (dang editor…) I began to realize the whole thing was a quest for happiness through the chaos. Despite the conflict described, the book is actually more about women than otherwise, more about love and the prospect of extended, bonded connection than anything else (thank you, wonderful editor…).
I’d like to see if the long-term pair-bond could be worked more frequently into the stories we see published. And I’m excluding the eternal vampire love-fest foisted on us by Twilight. We live in a world beset by uncertainty. This week is Valentine’s Day; show me the love.
So, readers, educate me on all the stories I haven’t read but should because they show or use the long term pair-bond successfully. Make a case for it showing up more often and more importantly in our fiction.