First of all, Happy Passover, Easter, whatever! It's SPRING!!! This is the time all young men turn their fancy to love, right? So let's talk about the mood of the season.
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All Romance situations revolve around TRUST because when swept off your feet by the discovery of true love, "romanced" into daring to love, the backlash of that dive off the cliff is DISTRUST.
The sweeping, sinking, falling-in-love feeling is a loss of "control" -- of yourself, your emotions, your life, your ability to make choices.
It seems in that moment that a major life-direction choice has been made for you, and there's nothing you can do about it -- THIS IS MY MAN (or WOMAN). This one is MINE.
But what if you can't, don't, won't, TRUST that person, or that decision, or even yourself to deliver to that treasured person what that person deserves because that person is a treasure to all humanity?
Discovering the true value of a PERSON -- another person other than yourself -- is one of those moments when Divine Force opens your inner eye and shows you the stakes you are playing for in this world.
And that is an awesome experience.
The stakes of "falling in love" -- of recognizing a Soul Mate -- have nothing at all to do with yourself in that moment of recognition of the stakes. The stakes you play the love-game FOR are the children -- and their children and their children, long after you're gone. The stakes of love are eternal.
And if you make a mistake, you are responsible for the Souls yet to enter the world for their turn.
That is why all "Falling In Love" is about FEAR -- and why Romance itself is a genre of exemplary courage on display. It takes far more courage to LOVE than it does to murder someone or commit suicide.
In fact, it takes more courage to hug than to shoot a gun into a crowd or an army.
That's why all Romance is about fear, the bigger internal fears we bury when we think we leave childhood behind.
Puberty is a time of eruption of sexual adult hormones, a transition to what we call adulthood.
But sex alone doesn't create adults out of children. In fact, it can stunt the development of the child into an adult.
When that happens, and later the pseudo-adult who encountered sex too early in life, at too immature an age of character, then the encounter with the Soul Mate and the "falling in love" experience of true Romance is fraught with eruptions of sheer terror, fear like nothing ever felt before - fear of failure as a person, fear of having children.
If you can't trust yourself, you can't trust anyone else -- ever!
This is the stuff of true drama and and it is the core of the reason that ROMANCE -- as a genre -- deserves much more respect than it has ever (yet) garnered in the public square.
OK, then if TRUST is your core theme for your new novel -- what's the plot? Where do you find a plot that has all the opportunities to explore the issues of TRUST buried in all current young adults?
And I really think that "all" current young adults (anyone under say maybe 30) are in this category of having been introduced to the adult world of sexuality too soon in their character-arc. You can connect with this audience directly if you can understand all sides of this issue, and why these fears and trusts have to be revisited in the encounter with a Soul Mate.
Oh, yes, it's very possible that these fear/trust issues have been laid to rest in a prior incarnation and so, the pre-teen child is actually beyond them in this life, ready for adulthood at a very tender age.
And that individual makes a great character for a Romance novel - simply because they're "different" and have to wrestle with the fact that lot of their contemporaries (most likely the one they've fallen in love with) have not surmounted these issues.
OK, so given a theme of TRUST -- what's the plot?
If you can nail a theme and a plot before you even begin to think about characters who will live through that plot, you will very likely be able to produce saleable fiction on second draft. The knack of writing fast, lean, easy-to-read stories is all about getting the structure right before you start drafting.
With that structure laid out, you can find characters who will advocate each side of the thematic issue you're tackling.
You find the SIDES that you must illustrate with the backgrounds and current issues of your characters by reading non-fiction about the thematic substance you're working with.
One of the best, clearest argued, sources I've found for these kinds of "all sides of the issue presented without bias" is actually a religious source.
In the case of FEAR/TRUST the issue roiling through America today is GUN CONTROL.
And here is a very cleanly structured, all sides of the problem laid out clearly with references, article on the position of Judaism on gun control.
Read that article -- you don't have to know anything about Judaism to see instantly that this is Romance Novel fodder.
When you get to the end of the article, see if you have found my question nagging your mind.
It isn't what the article says that's important. It's what it does not say, or ask, or question, or approach. Look for the fallacy. By now, you've trained yourself to find those fallacies everywhere, especially in news stories -- but look for it underneath this article. Here it's harder to spot.
Remember, this series of blog posts is about Theme-Plot INTEGRATION (i.e. doing both at once, putting your theme into your plot so you never ever have to articulate the dry, boring, repellant philosophy in a self-indulgent expository lump). In fact your characters should not know diddly about philosophy, or care. And your characters should never know the reader is there listening. So they don't explain their philosophy to the reader in expository lumps disguised as dialogue.
Philosophy creates emotions -- show don't tell the character's emotions and you have your theme and plot integrated cleanly and you have made your story a joy to read.
That is the secret I learned from the greatest writers who mentored me.
PHILOSOPHY IS THE SUBCONSCIOUS SOURCE OF EMOTION.
What you subconsciously believe causes you to feel. What you consciously believe leaves you cold.
Fiction writing is all about your reader's subconscious beliefs. Not the conscious ones.
And it is within the subconscious of your reader that you will find the neatest, and most powerful, fallacies you can use to generate plot.
Search that article for the FALLACIES you can use to discuss the hot-button issues of TRUST in love, war and marriage.
The author of this piece (and it may have had a number of authors other than the ones cited) harbored a fallacy shared with the intended audience.
Spot that fallacy and you've got a Romance Genre series -- or a blockbuster film rivaling the blockbuster novels/film series by Robert Ludlum THE BOURNE IDENTITY etc.
Here's the fallacy I see in that article that just drips Romance Genre Plot.
"What if the government is the one with "Evil Intent"?" What if it's the government you can't trust?
OK, a lot of people are running around the world today ranting and chanting about not trusting government.
If you've read the book I've been discussing in this Theme-Plot series, You Can't Lie To Me, you know why we elect folks who are honest just like we are, and then those same folks turn dishonest without our noticing the transition. When we notice it, we rant and chant about how untrustworthy they are.
Has anyone noticed that those in charge of the USA's government today (and even of the UN) are the very ones who ran around ranting and chanting in the 1960's that they didn't trust the government?
Is what you rant and chant against what you fear -- or what you love and then become?
Is loving what you fear a sign of sanity? Is becoming what you fear inevitable?
The question that is not asked in the article is "What if...?" (an SF keyword question) "What if the government -- i.e. the majority -- is the source of Evil Intent?" As I said, that is the one question the intended readership for this article would never, ever, consider asking.
That's the kind of fallacy you can use to generate plot because it is so widespread.
As this Theme-Plot Integration series has pointed out, the writer who can depict the reader's subconscious philosophy's contradictory beliefs commands the reader's attention. If that subconscious belief is held by a large number of people and is fallacious, that writer gains a Robert Ludlum size audience.
Live Long and Prosper,
Camp Kingsbury, Part II
3 days ago