Monday, July 6, 2015

How Love Stories Work

I've realized the obvious about the formula of love stories in fiction. You know how they often start with characters hating each other before they fall in love? It sometimes feels too formulaic, like, yes, we can already see how they're going to find this person selfish and rude and then discover what a wonderful humanitarian they really are; boring. But I hadn't quite realized what the flip side would be.

Because the thing is, everyone has their bad and good points and when you get to know someone, you get to know both of those sides--and it's easier (or nicer, maybe?) to find their good points last than to find their bad points last.

Picture that love story flipped around. A character would see someone's good points first and then see the bad points and then would probably not want to love them at all because they're left with that negative image instead of the positive one. This is a different formula: this is the tragedy. This is where characters get their hearts broken, where they find out what a cad someone they thought was perfect really is. It doesn't make for a nice love story--so the love story formula remains.

You see the bad first and then the good so that you have time to react to the bad and realize that the good is enough to overcome it. Pride and Prejudice is of course the big example of this effect--Han Solo and Leia work, too. Then of course there also usually tends to be more back-and-forthing to fill in the space: like when Jane find that Rochester is already married. She thinks it's the end for them, that it can only be the end for them, but it isn't; it's just the final stage of discovering something bad and then something good.

That's how most things are, aren't they? There are two sides and then there is how we view it all. In some cases, the bad outweighs the good and so we turn from these things (whether people or actions or places); in other cases, our ability to focus on the good over the bad is what makes the good endure and the bad shrink.

No comments:

Post a Comment