Friday, September 17, 2010

Contrived plots? No, never!

Last night, I could not sleep. Which turned out to be a good thing, because I seem to get some of my best plotting (yes, plotting, you pansters!) done past 1 a.m. The bonus is getting to spend time with Phin, my night owl better half.

Phin reads fantasy. And mystery. And various other fiction sub-genres, but he's never quite gotten over his distaste for romance.

But he's an amazing help in plotting. So I give him bare-bones situations, my question, and, ta-da!, he usually has a solution. Last night, however, he needed more detail, so I gave it, to which he replied, "Isn't that awfully contrived?"

At first I was defensive, but the more I thought about it, I knew he was correct. That being said, I hate the word "contrived" because it has such a negative connotation. It's more like, as I explained to him, setting up the right circumstances so the right people have the chance to fall in love.

"Life isn't like that, though," he told me, so sure of himself.

But it IS like that. For two people to meet and fall in love, they both have to be in the right place at the right time. Whether they're ready or not, sparks fly.

But what if their goals create conflict? What if their motivations for those goals create more conflict down the line? Sounds like our golden Goal-Motivation-Conflict trinity to me.

And for those two people to compromise and grow, all for the sake of their love for the other...well that's really an aligning of perfect circumstances. For every successful relationship, that person has (usually) had to weed through the ones who weren't right, with whom they couldn't find a happy ending.

It's all about the circumstances. And character. Sounds like the recipe for a good romance to me.

We write romance because it reflects life. Paranormal, contemporary, suspense, erotic--it's all about the right two people finding each other at the right time.

Just like life.

I know Phin will come around at some point. But until then, I'll keep picking his brain and reminding him that we fell in love because we met the right person at the right time, and managed to tolerate each others' flaws while highlighting each others' strengths. And I'll continue writing my love stories, thankful for my own relationship as I plot each one.


4 comments:

Meg Benjamin said...

Well, when you think about it, most plots are contrived. They have to be! Real life is messy--lots of detours and side trips. Lots of other things getting in the way of the main action. Fiction runs a lot more easily, but it has to. If there's a monster at the front door, I really don't want to wait while the heroine charges up her cell phone before calling for help!

Kelly Jamieson said...

You're so lucky to have plotting help. My hubs is no help and my kids just roll their eyes at me. And yeah - it IS contrived, like Meg said, the trick is to make it seem uncontrived.

Cara Bristol said...

If you sit down and outline your favorite books, even those considered great works of literature, you find that all fiction is contrived. But if it's a good piece of fiction--it doesn't seem contrived to the reader. The reader gets so caught up in the story, he/she doesn't notice the author pulling the strings.

I'm envious of your plotting help, too! To me, plotting is the most difficult part of writing.

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