It’s high time we talk about love…
The English word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to interpersonal attraction (“I love my partner”). It can refer to an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection – “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. And it may describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one’s self or animals.
That’s how Wikipedia defines love anyway.
There are an awful lot of love stories about. Some of them pretty shocking and some of them so timeless they reach into everyone’s heart and stay there forever.
I don’t write about love.
Well. I do. But I don’t write love stories.
Love is an incredibly strong emotion – and therefore an incredibly strong motivator for a character. I’ve read plenty of stories that throw in love fairly tenuously just to give their characters a bit of chutzpah*. I’ve read other stories where the love breaks your own heart, let alone the character’s. It can be done magnificently or terribly, but either way, it’s usually present in the story somewhere.
Whether it’s a love of your family, your pet, your other (better?) half, or even of yourself, you are – and always will be – in love with something. I could throw the old “I would do anything for love” line out there, and after you’ve snorted derisively for a bit, you realise that deep down, you know it’s true.
Which is why my characters have a tendency to fall in love.
I don’t begrudge them this – after all, I have that authorial love for them myself. In fact, I rather encourage it. What’s life without a bit of love, after all? So it gets in the way of some plot points, and it means my characters often do daft things in the name of it, but that’s half the fun. You can scale out your novel as much as you like, but when you get in to it and love gets involved, you can pretty much wave your plan goodbye.
That’s what happens in real life too.
I realise when I witter on in this manner, it makes me sound rather bonkers. But, hear me out.
What would Elizabeth Bennet have done if she hadn’t fallen in love with Mr Darcy?
In The Book Thief, what would Liesel have done if she hadn’t fallen in love? Clare in Zennor in Darkness, Captain Corelli in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Henry DeTamble in The Time Traveler’s Wife, or – dare I say it – Edward in Twilight? Things would have turned out differently. It doesn’t make them any less compelling characters (I’m excluding the Twilight saga here), and some of those stories may well have stood without the love element. But it was love that made them irresistible.
So as I write my story – a fantasy-adventure-horror – I just can’t leave out love. Sorry.
Do you write about love?
What is your favourite love story?
*What is “chutzpah” anyway?