by Chauncey Rogers
If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t, make it.
Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.
What is Love? – Romance in Storytelling
Thank you for hosting today, Lynne! I’m excited to be on your blog!
Love and romance. I suppose they aren’t the same thing, are they? They’re really not even very close to being the same thing. Sure, if we put them in a Venn-diagram their circles would overlap, but there’s still plenty of those two subjects that don’t touch.
But today we’re going to try and talk about both (briefly) and their importance in storytelling.
First, a bold statement: love is in every good story.
Now, normally I shy away from superlatives like a cockroach shies away from the light, but what the heck? I’ll just throw caution to the wind and say it again.
Love is in every good story.
This probably isn’t all that revelatory, if we think about it. A story needs strong emotions, and love not only encapsulates many strong emotions, but can also be twisted into other strong emotions (like jealousy or hatred) through the course of a story.
Romance, on the other hand, isn’t in every story. Just most of them. And the term romance is applied to a wide number of things—innocent hand-holding among grade school students, candlelight dinners, risque liaisons, and much more.
When authors need characters to be motivated by something, love and romance become quick go-to answers. Should they always? No. But love and romance shouldn’t be brushed aside in stories, either. Both are tried and true plot devices with long histories in storytelling, and both are fairly universal to the human condition.
I’ve certainly relied upon love and romance in my own storytelling. My debut novel, Home To Roost, was about a rooster who felt love for a little girl and romantic feelings for a hen. Those emotions did very different things to the rooster, but I won’t spoil it here.
But what about love in Cinderella? Cinderella goes to the ball, dances with the prince, and homeboy is like, “Don’t know that girl’s name or face, but I’m totally gonna marry her. Once I find her, of course.”
Seems like romance, but maybe not even that. For those who enjoy the notion of ‘Love At First Sight,’ it’s pretty much perfect.
And what of love? Cinderella’s father loved her (in most versions). The wicked stepmother’s behavior could perhaps be in part explained by an unhealthy type of love for her own daughters over her stepdaughter. In the 1950 Disney animated version, the king’s controlling love for his son and practically uncontrollable love for his unborn grandchildren push him to host the ball and institute the search for Cinderella.
I think it’s useful to differentiate between the two, but I’ll admit that it can be hazy. Ultimately, though, they both not only occur heavily in storytelling—in some ways they’re what storytelling is all about. Powerful emotions, and the crazy things they make us do.
Do you need to have a romantic love plot line in the stories you read, or are you glad to take a break from it every now and again? Let us know in the comments!
Day 8 of 13 of Happily’s Release Blog Tour. See the full schedule here.
Thanks, Chauncey. You make some excellent points, and I find myself agreeing with you despite not being much of a romance reader – or writer – myself. Readers want emotion, and while love may be considered the most positive emotion available to a writer, it also has some very dark shades that make it appropriate for all genres and all styles.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a regular take on the Cinderella story, because it is so much more than that. To start with, Laure, the main protagonist, is not a substitute for Cinders in any way. That job goes to someone else, which then frees Laure up to be the feisty, no-holds-barred girl that she is.
Life hasn’t been kind to Laure. As such, she feels she is due some recompense – and she’s not averse to taking whatever she can, whenever she can – by taking, I mean stealing. Yep, Little Miss innocent she is not!
When one of her exploits backfires on her, she has to flee the scene (but not after causing quite a scene) and return to find the stolen money later on. Luckily, the money is still there, but so is the person whose cart she derailed and sent crashing into the moat. Watching her from a distance, Luc follows her home – to a dilapidated ruin where she sleeps on the concrete floor. He surprises her when she wakes and demands she pay him back – one way or another.
He’s determined to take her to the Palace and out her as a thief. But, when they hear the King’s decree calling all women to try on a glass slipper – the one whose foot fits will marry the prince – Laure decides this is her chance and they head off to check it out. If there is even the remotest chance the shoe fits, then great wealth could be hers – and she’d be able to pay Luc back. Well, sassy she might be, but the girl dreams big too.
She’s not alone, however, the whole of Éclatant has turned up. Yet none are successful, including Laure, which leads to an idea to make the shoe fit. With Luc as a willing cohort, they begin their quest, encountering an old witch-like woman and a den of thieving bandits until they reach the war-ravaged neighbouring country of Galamonte where their plan takes shape.
The two warm to each other throughout the journey; Laure’s pessimistic outlook softens and, inspired by Luc’s caring and considerate nature, the idea of helping others, most particularly the residents of Galamonte, actually appeals to her. Even at her lowest point, when she contemplates giving up, her thoughts turn to the good she could do if she were to marry the prince.
The story is packed with humour (generally wit and sarcasm from Laure), fascinating and realistic characters (maybe with the exception of a raving lunatic for a King whose endeavours need to be seen to be believed), great world-building (the settings of Éclatant and Galamonte are well-drawn and believable) and, lest we forget, a budding romance.
An enjoyable, cleverly written and amusing story, that goes to prove you’re never too old to enjoy a fairytale 😉
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