The other day I read a very interesting post by our very own Vickie of Used Books where she was talking about Romance. And what caught my eye the most was her description of the driving force behind romance stories as “relationship-driven conflict”- a very succinct way to put it!
It’s exactly that which inspired me to talk today about romance in comics that do NOT fall under the Romance genre- how romance can be used to support and promote a plot that has a different conflict focus, being for example a thriller or an adventure or a mystery, rather than committed to telling the story of a couple as the central conflict.
Often the trouble with Romance is that everything revolves around whether two people will become a couple (and stay that way until the end), often utilizing love triangles or other obstacles to that couple’s bond together- but life is never all about romance. A ton of things happen in tandem alongside whatever conflict is taking place relationship-wise. Often in real life those other things by nature take center stage, whereas in romantic stories they are forced not to, and that makes the story less appealing.
But that isn’t the case when Romance is the side dish, rather than the main course. How people act or react to the objects of their affection often is a catalyst for other things taking place, and thus romance is a good plot device or manner to advance the plot.
A character madly in love with another one may refuse to see that the object of his/her affection is detrimental to his/her main objectives.
A character madly in love or infatuated with another one may refuse to see that their love interest is actually their enemy.
A character with unrequited love may be consumed by jealousy that the character they covet may not even be aware of, thus act in ways that present obstacles to the main plot that otherwise wouldn’t occur.
Love (and hate) may make characters act in ways they wouldn’t normally do within the context of the main plot and the character constellations that are in place: those who would normally be allies may end up being enemies just because of a love/romantic issue, or those who would normally be enemies may be more lenient for the same purposes.
Dramatic effect can also stem from romance and romantic connections/ conflict between characters: when a love bond must be overcome, broken or resisted in order for the main plot’s goals to be achieved or advanced, then there will be intense emotional turmoil which will create drama and further engagement for the audience.
This conflict can be developed subtly in the sidelines of the main plot, only to be highlighted when important events related to it take place. For example, my comic Without Moonlight is not a romance. However, the existing romance and the relationships between the central characters, while not explored in more than maybe 5 pages in the entirety of the comic (it’s now around 120 pages long already), is designed to bring forth a big impact that will greatly affect the plot (the struggle of the Resistance against the nazis), not only regarding the couple involved but pretty much all the characters in the cast (both Greeks and Germans) by means of a domino effect.
So for my war drama story, romance is a plot device, an (alluring) means rather than the end.
What about you? Have you used romance to advance your non-romantic plot?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Aug. 19, 2017
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