Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Theme-Worldbuilding Integration Part 3: Children in Romance Novels

Part 1 in this series is:

Part 2 in this series was posted September 11, 2012:

Here is a post listing previous posts on Worldbuilding:

Here is a partial list of posts on this blog about the use of THEME in structuring a novel or screenplay:
Note that I'm not writing this piece today as it is a Holiday, so I'm offline.  But I've noticed most of the readers of these blogs come along days and weeks later, so let's just plow ahead with this very difficult coordinating of two huge writing techniques, Theme and Worldbuilding.

This is especially focused on Romance, most especially PNR or Science Fiction Romance, even contemporary Urban Fantasy novels.

I've been reading a number of Romance novels lately that involve the "second time around" process, a divorced woman with children falling in love -- once burned: twice wary, a story the Romance genre didn't want to touch for decades is now popular.  And there's always the widow story which is very traditional, especially the Young Widow in Victorian times.  You can Steam Punk that story very easily.

But if you open up the time-line, you can tackle whole new vistas in Romance.  Well, not so new, as Robert A. Heinlein wrote about families in space ships, asteroid mining families in junk-ships, generation ships going for the stars and raising kids who didn't value what the parents did, kids raised on Martian colonies, on the Moon.  He had a lot of kids in his novels.

So kids aren't a new encumbrance to the adventure-hero story.

They are relatively new in the Romance genre,  and there's still a lot of territory to be explored in the Fantasy Romance area - particularly PNR.

Don't miss Gini Koch's "Alien" series that I pointed you to in a previous post:


She has a new one out in 2012 -- read them in order.  She's taken a fairly ordinary office worker woman into an Urban Fantasy world where she falls in love with an Alien and now has a kid by the Alien. 

She's got to teach that kid (who has "powers") to be a good person.

How do you do that?  What kind of Romance theme goes with worldbuilding raising Superman? 

In real life, we all have our successes and failures with transmitting values to kids.  If you include your neighbors and maybe your twitter friends too, you know many moments of soaring joy when a kid does something showing they "get it" -- that suddenly this selfish little bundle of demands finally understands there are other people with wants and needs in his/her world.  If you're lucky, that may happen at about 3 or 4 years of age. 

But you also have seen many real world examples of utter failure.  For example, that recent YouTube video of a school bus monitor being deliberately maltreated by 12 yr olds just to make a YouTube Video of her reactions -- the utter cruelty of telling her that she's so ugly and nasty that she couldn't possibly have any family because anyone related to her would commit suicide!  While in her reality, she did have a relative who had committed suicide.  The devastation of that moment in her emotional life is incalculable.  The kids thought it was funny.

I keep saying "Love Conquers All" is not just a silly fantasy - it's real in real life, and it's the way to go.  Love and Joy are the fuel for our deeds that gives them magical wings, that amplifies the effect of what we do.  That's from a concrete observation of real world events.  It's actual, not a fantasy.  But there can be a lot of different explanations for this observed fact, explanations that "work" well for a lot of people. 

Personally, I prefer the explanation rooted in the postulate that God is real, actually exists, actually stirs up human affairs and takes a very personal interest in each individual, that the Universe is created every moment from God's Love, and because of that, when we Love our actions are super-effective in interacting with that created Reality.

The Universe is solidified Love.  When we perceive that fact, and ignite our Joy with that fact, everything we do has astonishingly powerful effects far beyond the reach of an individual person.  Our thoughts, words and deeds echo from the walls at the ends of time when they are powered by Joy ignited by Love -- which is why Happily Ever After is the only possible outcome of Life.  It's just that getting the hang of how to do that is very hard.  It can take quite a few incarnations to get it right!  But we'll be at this and at this until we get it right.  That's one theme thread woven through everything I write. 

That's my philosophy, but it's only one of many worth exploring.  If my take on Life is true, it doesn't invalidate any of the other explanations for the observed fact that Love works while Hate does not work.

Hate ignited in those young people, rewarded by the society they live in (videogames, YouTube, and a toxic school environment), led them to an egregious act of hatred by simple, logical steps -- "oh, it's harmless; just kids cutting up." 

"Video-game" is one of those misnomers we investigated in a prior posts in this series.

I'm sure those children couldn't imagine that anyone would object to what they were doing  to that school bus monitor -- at least nobody under 20 years old would object!  After all, it was harmless, right?  Just joking.  Just for fun.  Fat, ugly, old people should be put in their proper place in the scheme of things, especially fat-ugly-old people who are there to discipline you into sitting still and being quiet so the school bus driver doesn't crash the bus.  Like toilet-papering teacher's houses, egregious vandalism of property or person is FUN, and well-sanctioned by our society, at least by the young, slender, pretty people?  

Keep your eye on the ball here.  We're talking Theme-Worldbuilding INTEGRATION, not "ain't it awful" gossip.

What if these kids were as powerful as the kid Gini Koch's heroine is raising? 

Apparently our whole society is not as depraved as the kids we're raising. 

Someone started a fund and suddenly they had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for the benefit of this woman.  People voted on those kids' actions by tossing a few coins in a hat.  The response made TV news headlines, and that's an encouraging thing in this world.  The adults of this world do not approve of the behavior of the children we are raising.

That stark RIFT between the generations has never (in my memory, or the memories I heard about from my forebears ) been more dramatic.  Oh, boy is this an opportunity to found a new Best Seller Genre! 

See some of my blog entries on Pluto and drama: 




Studying this incident can give you a target to pin on your reader's heart, something to aim at when you winnow out the themes rattling around in your head. 

There's at least one major, and far-reaching theme buried in this incident.  By the time any Romance novel based on it can appear in print, the video and incident will be long forgotten, and the thematic substance will seem fresh and original.  So this is the kind of incident worth studying for thematic opportunities. 

Considering the amount of money that was raised, and how fast it came in from thousands of donors online, you have a readership that's wide enough, that's got money, and that wants to hear your story, to experience the SOLUTION to this problem with our kids.

That solution, in my estimation, is LOVE -- but the problem is how to apply it.

There is of course one sad thing about that response to this school bus monitor's angst -- we'll just collect some money so she can have a vacation from all that.  The people who started the collection had no idea it would be a retirement fund magnitude of cash collected.  And I've no idea of the tax status of such donations, but I'm sure the harassed woman won't get it all.

The sad thing here is the popular response is "give money and forget it -- giving money fixes it."  And we do that often -- most of our big social problems get that response.

It's a good one, and definitely transmits LOVE as it should, is very powerful and to me very heartening -- but!!! 

And the but will be left for next week.  See if you can work out for yourself where the dramatic opportunity is inside that BUT.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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