Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Falling In Love

Calm yourselves. I speak not of moi. We’re back in the writing groove, remember?

So, when I started plotting Leftovers…back in the Pleostene Age (made that up, I think)…I didn’t intend for it to be a traditional romance. Well, wait. Not true. I knew there’d be some kinda happy-ever-after but the romance wouldn’t necessarily be the main focus. Still…I knew the heroine would wind up with the hero in the end.

Flash forward and I’m a little more than halfway through the book. It occurs to me, if they’re gonna fall in love, I’m a little behind in getting the ball rolling. Like, the heroine should have noticed a physical attraction by now, right? Okay, that stuff is easy. I can go back and insert it.

But the question remains. By what process do two people actually FALL in love?

Out of all the craft issues romance writers discuss, I rarely see this topic, and yet it’s probably the most important of all, no? The trouble is, what IS love?

Ah. Tricky.

I think I know better what love ISN’T. First, it’s not physical attraction--that’s lust. Too many romance novels take characters who are exact opposites (yeah, yeah—I know, opposites attract), throw them together in a conflict and then, because they can’t keep their hands off each other due to some mysterious chemical reaction, they end up professing their undying love. More often than not, I don’t buy it. I need to see what’s gone on inside their heads to make them commit to a lifetime of putting up with each other’s bullsh*t. (I'm sorry, but great sex just ain't enough for me.)

Another version (better, but still lacking as far as I’m concerned) is where the two characters discover that, although opposites, their union forges some sort of internal balance. Like when the workaholic heroine falls for a guy who teaches her to stop and smell the roses.

But does this happen in real life? Or is it a figment of romance writers’ imaginations?

There’s plenty of evidence in real life to suggest most people don’t have a clue when it comes to love. I have a friend (you know who you are!) who constantly laments how crappy her boyfriend treats her. (And I don’t mean that he leaves his dirty underwear on the floor.) He berates her, he attacks her self-esteem, he undermines her confidence, he takes advantage of her financially…I could go on and on (and she does). Then, she’ll say: “But, I really love him.”


“’Cuz sometimes he does really nice things like bring me flowers.”

Gulp. $1.98 flowers from the liquor store down the block. Yep. That’s love.

Another one of my favorites (different girlfriend, different litany of complaints) ends with: “But he loves me so much.”

Yeah. So what? Is there some law that says you have to love him back?

See? Surrounded by all these shining examples of love, it’s no wonder I face a dilemma when it comes to getting my characters to fall into it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How 'bout this scenario. He notices her coming into this bar on a regular basis. They hang out at this same place for that blessed after work drink(s). They are finally introduced months later. That first drink results in hours of talk. Even though they are 10 years apart, they find they have many mutual things in common. Unfortunately, she is allegedly in love with an abusive manipulative drunk. She tries to find the good in him. She forgives his aggressions and mistreatments, as she loves him. The final straw...after years of mistreatment...a punch. She has no where to go except that guy she met. Even though as friends, and with much reluctance to get involved, as he, as does she, had a bad "prior." The friendship evolves into dates that turn into 8 hour plus long talks and walks on the beach...from there an engagement and pending marriage...
The no rushinto thing along with the unique friendship evolved into something special....with the foundation of best friends...alas the script of two people you met on some cruise back in 2002...