“Oh, I don’t care much for romance.”
Those are words that romance
writers – and readers – often hear. The funny thing is, it’s
hard to find a good story without it.
Last night my husband and I watched
a classic ghost story, “The Uninvited.” A man and his sister move
into a haunted house. Sort of an unusual domestic arrangement. Why
are they brother and sister? So the brother is able to become
romantically involved with Stella, the young woman who’s the target
of the spirits in the house.
Why is that? Because storytellers
recognize that most of us are driven by the need for romantic love. A
story may not be billed as a “romance,” but you’ll find romance
at the heart of most stories.
Think of the classics, and you’ll
find that the desire for romantic love is usually a prime motivator
for the characters, even if that pursuit is misguided. In “The
Great Gatsby,” the title character builds a new life for, and is
finally destroyed by, the pursuit of love. In “Casablanca,” the
story hinges on the lost love between Rick and Ilsa. “Gone with the
Wind” without the passion of Scarlett and Rhett? I don’t think
What about action films? Let’s
talk “Spiderman.” In the 2002 film, Peter Parker tells us in the
opening narration: “Let me assure you, this, like any story worth
telling, is all about a girl.” How about film noir? The leading man
in “Double Indemnity” may be motivated by lust rather than love …
but he’s built it up into something pretty important by the time
he’s willing to kill a guy for it. In horror, the mummy is after
his lost mate, and all the Frankenstein monster really wants is a
bride. Comedy? Even in something as light, silly and just-for-fun as
the “Anchorman” films, Ron Burgundy’s gotta get the girl (or
get her back).
Love – the need for it or the
lack of it – makes everything more important. It raises the stakes.
It’s something we all want. Storytellers, readers and moviegoers
are instinctively drawn to it, whether they realize it or not.
Most romance readers and writers
simply recognize that need more consciously, so we go after it more
directly. Someone may be getting killed, something may be getting
stolen, a career may be at stake … but whatever our characters think they’re after, we can be darned sure there’s a
happily-ever-after at the end of it.
And that’s a story worth telling.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Love: The Prime Motivator by Sierra Donovan
Sierra Donovan is a wife, a mother of two and a writer, though not always in that order. Her greatest joy is helping people find true love on the printed page. She believes in classic movies, Christmas, happy endings, and the healing power of chocolate. Sierra's first novel, LOVE ON THE AIR, was a Holt Medallion finalist. Her Kensington debut, NO CHRISTMAS LIKE THE PRESENT, won the Golden Quill for Sweet Traditional Romance. Her series of Evergreen Lane novels begins with DO YOU BELIEVE IN SANTA?, a finalist for the SnowGlobe Award. The series continues with her latest romance, WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS.