I read a lot of blog posts on writing, thanks to Twitter. A lot of the information is on repeat, but not The Ego Struggle: The Core of the Romance Storyline posted by AndreaJWenger.
I think this post has some solid insight. When it comes to romance, it’s about battling egos. It’s about changing in order to make the relationship work. That’s character arc right there.
Each of them has to decide what they’re willing to give up for the sake of the relationship, versus what they need to keep because it’s essential to their happiness. … The decisions are made incrementally and often unconsciously, as the romantic couple grows closer—until the end of the novel, when they finally shed their illusions and choose each other over things they thought mattered more.
Through this struggle, their sense of identity changes. Their ego is dismantled and rebuilt.
What the characters value changes. Importantly, they put side something of their own, a sacrifice.
Thanks, Andrea, for making me think!
V and I were having a discussion about what we call ‘obsessive love’. It often starts as instalove, but not always. It’s what happens when a character just can’t stop thinking about–and, more importantly, behaving in relation to–their love interest. Everything is about this person. They invade every thought, every scene.
I do not like obsessive love. Worse, I don’t like it for YA. Teens are already predisposed to be obsessive, they don’t need encouragement. They don’t need the message that it’s okay and romantic to be all about the lourve. It’s unrealistic for the adult world, which teens are supposed to be maturing into. </moralizing>
Anyway, as V and I were talking we bemoaned how frequent these obsessions are in YA fiction. Famous example? Twilight.
Which got me thinking about a great counter-example, Cinder by Marissa Meyer. (I know, the names make for great irony.)
Cinder is a sci fi take on Cinderella, complete with royal prince. The character Cinder is clearly attracted to him and gets rather befuddled in his presence, but she doesn’t start factoring him into everything that she does. The girl’s got bigger issues, life or death issues. Instead she plays the, “He’d never be interested in me” card, and for once it works. Her reasons are legit. Here we have a pragmatic young woman who realizes she needs to get shit done, not pine over a boy.
It’s really, really refreshing.
Here’s to the books that go beyond obsessive love.