Last week, I revealed 5 tempting but destructive myths that romance writers seem disturbingly fond of.
They sell us stories in which incomplete people are completed by love...
Having the right relationship is "enough" to fill the hole in your heart...
The presence of a male and female lead means they'll inevitably and swiftly fall in love, and it will last...
Any relationship, no matter how incompatible, immature or even hostile, can work if the characters love each other enough...
And abusive, controlling or stalkerish behavior can be excused if the character doing it is emotionally damaged or hopelessly in love. The victim doesn't have to end the relationship for their own safety - the relationship is, or soon will be, OK the way it is.
What would happen if a story didn't indulge in these fantasies?
What if the damaged, incomplete character had to do the inner work to heal, grow, and complete himself/herself?
What if the person driven by emptiness and longing had to heal the core wounds that created those feelings, instead of getting another person to do it all for them?
What if the love interest's love was like a hospital - a place in which one could heal - instead of being the medicine that cured the wound by itself?
Would readers be willing to accept a story that implied such responsibility, instead of offering the promise that the right love would fix everything, with no real work on their part?
What if the fact that the would-be lovers were always sniping, criticizing and arguing DIDN'T mean they were secretly in love and perfect for each other - what if it meant they were too immature to sustain a relationship, and needed to grow before lasting love would be possible?
And what if the character who was passionate and generous with gifts and compliments, but who was also manipulative, controlling and emotionally unstable, was portrayed for what they are: a dangerous and unhealthy partner who shouldn't be touched with a ten-foot pole until they heal and grow up?
If a love story didn't portray an idealized version of romance, where hostility is OK and love fixes everything, would it have a hope of becoming as popular as things like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey?
I hope so. I'm actually working on outlining such a story - the romance won't be the only plot, but it will be a large factor.
Two damaged characters fall in love... but before they can be happy together, they must find a way to heal and be happy with themselves.
What do you think of all this?
And would you like to see a love story where the characters need to grow up, heal, and deal with their own baggage instead of getting someone else to do it for them?
I look forward to reading your comments.