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Aug 21, 2010

Fiction After Marriage

Romances usually build up to a climax. And you know which climax I mean. Or maybe you don't.

The classic romantic story is about falling in love -- following the ups and downs, ins and outs, togethers and aparts, of a couple as they approach physical and emotional intimacy. They may have one or the other, but until they both lust for and love each other, the romance, for the novelist, is not "consumated."

I love romance, and I love this traditional formula for creating romantic tension and satisfaction in fiction. The formula is not just a part of the romance genre, but usually also helps structure the story arc of any genre fiction -- fantasy, adventure, espionage, action, mystery. I want to emphasize also that I love genre fiction and don't use the term "formula" as a derogative, any more than I would use the word "sonnet" as a derogative term in poetry.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I had a fight with my husband, whom I love. And, poor man, his foibles and mine inspired me, and I outlined a scene from Dindi Book 2.

Now, here's one advantage of writing a book/series over a long period. This tale is a braid of several intertwined plotlines. The main story line, which I wrote first, is a Coming of Age story. It follows a fairly conventional fantasy trope of a young person coming into her power and falling in love.

Another strand of the story, however, follows another couple (a generation earlier), and though their story also starts with them falling in love, I wanted to continue to follow them after their happily ever after. That isn't as common, though two books I've read recently which did do this are The Time Traveller's Wife and Michelle's Cinders (*cough* go buy it, *cough*). In genre, this is okay to do with secondary characters.

(After I wrote most of this post, I discovered that Courtney Milan had blogged about how to to this in the Romance genre, by having a previous hero/heroine show up in a new heroine/hero's book.)

Since the after-happily-ever-after story is so unusual, it opens up a lot of possibilities. One choice is to make it all about falling out of love, which leads to a dismal story, unless the protagonist is saved by falling out of love with the wrong person and falling in love with the right person. But in that case, it's really just a story about falling in love, isn't it?

The other possibility is tragedy. Of course, in many dramatic traditions around the world, a love story is always a tragedy. You realize you love each other and are finally together -- thanks to the motherlovin' sword piercing you together like pineapples on a shishkabob! *Wipes tear from eyes. Sniffles.* So beautiful.

And so not for me. Sorry, I just don't enjoy dramas ending in divorce or death.

So what does that leave? Comedy, as always. Almost all sit-coms are about married couples and/or families, aren't they?

Nah, still not what I'm looking for.

What I wanted to write was the opposite of the Coming of Age/Falling in Love story, but not a simple (depressing) opposite. I wanted to write a Coming of (Older) Age/Falling (Deeper) in Love story. Dindi, the heroine, has to learn to transcend her limitations, to find her own power and to realize that the man she loves is better than she has been led to believe. Vessia, the other, has to learn to live with her limitations, to sacrifice some of her power, and to accept that the man she loves is only human.

I promise it doesn't end with a shishkabob. I don't promise it won't be bittersweet.


Jean Michelle Miernik said...

I think that type of story, falling deeper into love or further developing an existing relationship, is fine. But it might not fit into the "romance" genre; it might be literary or just fantasy or something like that.

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series starts out (in the middle of the first book or sooner) with the MCs getting married. Although her books don't fit into a genre neatly, they are loved by romance readers.

I dunno, write what you gotta write! Personally, my tastes are like yours. The deepening of the relationship can be more interesting than the hooking up part.

In my WIP, there is a lot of romance, but I've decided to call it a fantasy novel, plain and simple. There are two marriages that take place in the middle of the book, and drama unfolds that doesn't center solely around the MCs securing/deepening their marriages. I think a lot of fantasy mixes in romance, or at least sex, so that's probably not a big issue.

P.S. Mmm, I love Bernini!

Tara Maya said...

Genie, genre-wise, it's Epic Fantasy. HEAs are suggested, not mandatory. I just happen to believe in HEAs.

Yup, Bernini rocks. :)

Lucas Darr said...

Does this mean there are boobies in your story?


Ban said...

Aside(how odd the photographer would use Pluto the Roman form of Hades yet still use Persephone...)

Anyway, I've often thought about this little issue. While my story also is fantasy, there is a strong romantic tie between two of the characters and I've often wondered what to do with them once they accept each other ... For obvious reasons (like a romance novel) this comes at the end of the story. I'll be interested in seeing what you do!

Jai Joshi said...

Stories that are "after happily ever after" are more real to me because it means that the couple in the story are having to cope with the problems that come up in life after their declaration of love for each other.

I love romance too and read a lot of it but I do think that it's somewhat counterproductive to convey the idea that after you fall in love everything is ok. Because many times it's not and there are real life problems that won't go away so easy.


Michelle D. Argyle said...

I've always believed there's a more interesting story AFTER the falling in love, as you very well know. Haha, but to me it doesn't matter what the story is about as long as there's tension somewhere. I've read too many stories where there just isn't enough and I get bored. Maybe I'm just hard to please...

Thanks for the mention of Cinders. Some people have called it a romance, but it is technically a tragedy through and through. I love mixing genres. :)

Tara Maya said...

Michelle, there are definitely tragic elements to the ending of Cinders, but in a classic tragedy, wouldn't she have to die? Or at least gouge out her eyes.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Tara, that would be dark tragedy, but a straightforward tragedy, Cinders fills all the requirements. :)