Okay, this post is actually just a rant. So if you’re looking for writing advice, feel free to skip.
I have seriously come to despise MOST romantic stories. They all seem to fall into the same damn plot…
Person 1 is in a happy relationship with Person 2. They are successful and literally have everything anyone could ever want. Person 2 has to go away or just leaves the plot for a while.
Person 1 becomes acquainted with a rough-around-the-edges or simply unconventional person. Let’s call them Person 3. Suddenly Person 1 begins to realize that they’re missing something in their lives… or something in Person 3 is something Person 1 never realized they always wanted. They start to develop a romance and typically Person 3 has no care or concern for Person 1’s outstanding relationship.
Just to make Person 1, the supposed protagonist, not look like an absolutely horrible person, the writer then makes Person 2 do something that seems incredibly out of character, turning them into the villain and justifying Person 1’s behavior.
Person 1 eventually leaves Person 2… OFTEN LITERALLY AT THE DAMN ALTER for Person 3. The story typically ends with Person 3 and Person 1 getting married or starting a relationship.
Be honest, how many of you reading this right now can name at least 20 different movies that have this nauseating plot? I bet we could all post a list of stories we’ve read/seen that fall into this plot without overlapping. Need proof?
Just on the movie side of things…
This drives me insane for a few reasons. Firstly, I actually do like romantic stories. I’m not a guy who waves them off as chick flicks and most of my own books have a romantic element to them. At the same time, Stardust is one of my favorite movies of all times, and it is a romantic flick!
The other reason I hate these stories so much is because they’re so unrealistic. Think about it. In every story where Person 1 leaves Person 2 at the altar, what’s Person 2 going to do? Bow out gracefully? Yeah, good luck with that. Try again. Person 2 is likely going to sue for every penny that they put into the wedding. On top of that, they may actually sue Person 3 for ‘Abandonment of Affection’, depending on where they live. ON TOP OF THAT, Person 1 and Person 2 typically live together, so guess what kind of chaos that’s going to cause. So this is hardly going to end well. Not to mention that Person 3 will have been humiliated in the worst way and will probably develop trust issues where they’ll be in therapy for years afterward. Not to mention all the family and friends who will probably be affected by this, causing rude shocks and anger, even if there wasn’t a wedding involved. This is all after going through a character assassination so that Person 1 doesn’t look horrible.
So I’m sorry, but I’m completely on the side of Person 2 in these cases. I usually envision the ‘after Happily Ever After Scenes’ where Person 2 goes on to make his fortunes, does really well, finds someone who actually loves them and is far more compatible. They live out their days in success and luxury.
What happens to the breeding pair, you may ask? Heh, considering that Person 3 is usually broke, or some level of plebian, there are a few scenarios…
- Person 3 can’t provide Person 1 the lifestyle they’re accustomed to and their relationship eventually collapses. They go their separate ways and Person 1 sees all the success Person 2 is having and lives in despair over what they lost.
- Person 1 and Person 3 get close to where Person 1 was with Person 2… suddenly the same story happens, except this time, Person 3 meets their own Person 3 and before long, Person 1 becomes their own version of Person 2, and is yet again, out on the street, alone.
- Person 1 and 3 do work out, get married, and live a life that is nowhere near the level of quality Person 1 had always envisioned. Though happy on some level, Person 1 regrets what they sacrificed to be with Person 3.
Needless to say, it doesn’t work out well for Person 1. You may consider that petty, but I really don’t care. This plotline is terrible, yet it is continually rehashed in romance stories, particularly romantic comedies, like it’s pure gold.
Anyway, brief rant over. Let me know what you think or what stories/movies you know of that meet the above formula.
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Catch you on the flip side!
“So I’m sorry, but I’m completely on the side of Person 3 in these cases. I usually envision the ‘after Happily Ever After Scenes’ where Person 3 goes on to make his fortunes, does really well, finds someone who actually loves them and is far more compatible. They live out their days in success and luxury.”
Did you mean Person 2?
Anyway, I agree with you. Why was Person 1 going to marry Person 2 if all it took was Person 3 (which also often starts off as a contentious relationship) to show up? One example of this being done right is Spaceballs. Princess Vespa was being forced to marry Prince Yawning Boy (I don’t remember the character’s name) because of the usual “royal marries royalty” nonsense. Vespa and Lone Star’s romance is pretty well handled for a movie subplot, and when Lone Star learns his true heritage they get married. A sci-fi parody does this trop better than most romance stories out there.
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