Monday, 23 January 2012

Romance secrets

In lots of romance stories, two characters meet – no, sorry, they more often collide – and claim they dislike each other, while as writers we expect our readers to understand that love is simmering just below the surface. Is this premise truly believable or should we dismiss it as absolute tosh?

Always in the romance genre there are problems as to why the two couldn’t possibly be thought of as lovers. He’s too proud, she’s too prejudiced. Rhett Butler is no certainly gentleman, while Scarlett is your true ladylike southern belle. (Put in your own names and see if they match what I’m about to say.) What happens as the story progresses? We find that Scarlett has it in her to cheat, lie and steal in a way that makes Rhett look positively gentlemanly. Darcy proves he has the guts to see his faults and change his ways, while Lizzie recognizes with dismay how hasty and ill-judged her speedy character assessments were - not only of him, but also of Whickham.
Are they really the disparate characters first presented to the reader, or are they much closer to each other in tastes, habits and thought? I think Darcy and Lizzie are alike in many ways. In fact, Darcy and Elizabeth admit as much, and the film Gone with the Wind demonstrates how similar Rhett and Scarlett are in their courage and desperate will to survive and keep their dependents alive.
Perhaps this is the true secret of the romance genre - that couples should share values and traits, however deeply they are hidden or obscured by initial impressions.
They’d have to have something to share, or their lives would be hell. Wouldn’t they?

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