Sunday, January 4, 2015
Conveying Romance Plausibly In A Story
How does a reader know when a character in a story is truly in love? Is it when the character notices the attractiveness of someone of the opposite sex, and gets all flitterpated? When it comes to romantic love, that's certainly a part of it. A big part of it. You can't have real romantic love without physical attraction going equally both ways. But attraction isn't the only part. If physical attraction is the only thing in a relationship, then the relationship is pretty shallow and petty, and is never going to go anywhere meaningful.
I think the biggest thing about love, any kind, really, is that one respects herself or himself first of all. You cannot love someone else unless you respect yourself first, and that is an unfixable part of the way the world works. And along with that, you cannot love some whom you do not respect.
Also, real romantic love takes time. I have a hard time believing stories where the characters have not known each other for long, but the creators of the story, whether it’s a book or movie, or what have you, seem to want the audience to believe that these characters truly and deeply love each other in a romantic way after having known each other for only a few days. In real life, people aren't really like that. You can be attracted to someone immediately, or you can feel compassion for someone you barely know, but real, deep abiding love requires that you truly know someone. And you cannot do that in just a few minutes, or even a few days.
Additionally, in order to be capable of true and honest love, a person must first be honest and honorable. Not perfect, but making a sincere attempt to do good. Realistically, people do not permanently and sincerely change themselves, simply because someone else is attractive enough, or exciting enough. If you can't change your life around for your own sake, you can't change it around for someone else's.
Another thing that shows true love between characters in romantic relationships, is that neither the man nor the woman is interested in the other for selfish reasons. They are not needy or clingy, but truly value the other person. Neediness is not love.
To add to that, two people involved in a healthy romantic relationship have lives that are not completely tied up in each other. Constantly having to be around someone else isn't a sign of true love, but actually a sign of serious and unhealthy neediness. A good indicator of a healthy relationship, interestingly, is that the two people do not need to be around each other twenty-four hours a day. They enjoy their time together when they are, of course, but they have interests and projects that they enjoy on their own. They may miss each other when they are apart, but they are able to endure the time apart without becoming depressed and useless, because they are both well-adjusted people, capable of sincerely loving others.
Believable romances are tense with sexual attraction, and are also very full and rich, and healthy relationships between two people who genuinely value each other; people who are not only attracted to each other physically, but also are very, very good friends who know and accept each other, and who will be there for each other through everything that comes at them, and will still be in love even when they are old and not so physically attractive as they are when the story takes place.