Sunday, April 27, 2008

Character Arcs and Romance Structure arcs

Part Four

The thing about keeping an open mind is that sometimes stuff slides in. A couple years ago I listened to a lecture by Virginia Kantra on gender differences and how they impact POV. Still a good lecture. Turns out she also did a lecture on intimacy and control, not that I've been paying much attention to it, because she set the stage by explaining a different kind of arc.

I've always known about character arcs and story arcs, but when she got to talking about "romance arcs" it was like a halogen bulb exploded behind my eyes. I kept blinking and wondering how the hell I'd missed it.

A charter arc is the journey your character takes, and how they change for better or worse. A romance arc is the journey your two character arcs take over the course of the story to reach their HEA. Kantra explains it as the meeting, the initial conflict, vulnerability, honesty, and acceptance. And I thought about how in the books I really like to read over and over again--and yeah, I'm one of those people--what gets me is how two people with issues open up to each other and become vulnerable.

In a non-romance, that would be a great point to drive home a lesson-y'know, open up to people and get hurt? Or unrequited love, or stupid love--or all those other things that happen when you DO open up to people who--for sure--aren't going to love you back.

In romance, it's a major turning point.

It's...a leap of faith.

It's where you let go of all the bullshit and return honesty for honesty. To bring Dunne into it, it's where your emotional understructure hits the point of no return, because it's a romance--and in a romance, the romance arc reaches apogee when the hero and heroine start to change, and they become vulnerable.

Not such an arrow straight arc after all, but a structure like a teepee, with all these sticks headed for the sky, but coming at the meeting point from slightly different angles.


Alice Audrey said...

A teepee is not what I think of when I think of any story arc. Maybe a lean-to, though...

Kaige said...

I need to take more leaps of faith. Thanks for excellent blog fodder, Jodi! Mmmmm, brain food.

I got the teepee image, because you're taking things from all over the place and tying them together at the end and a new beginning is formed that takes off in a new direction.