Straight talk from the sisters about blood, sweat and ink
Masterplots Theater: L is for Love Story
Welcome back to Masterplots Theater! Today we are exploring one of the most popular masterplots of all time: The Love Story. And even if you’re not writing a full-on romance, most stories have an amorous subplot which contains the same plot elements. So without further ado, let’s fall in love!
Love Story Plot Notes:
The defining element of this masterplot is the love interest. No kidding, right? If there’s no one to fall in love with, well, you don’t have a love story. And before the protagonist can fall in love, they have to meet the object of their desire. This is commonly called a “meet cute.” I had never heard this term until Robin blogged about it, but it’s true – every love story has that scene where the future lovers meet for the first time.
But if the characters met and were like, “Awesome! Let’s start a loving relationship right now!” Well, that wouldn’t be much of a story. So there’s always a Major Obstacle keeping them apart. The obstacle can be personal (character is already married), professional (character’s job prevents them from having a relationship with the other), family-related (in a historical romance the dad doesn’t approve of the union), situational (characters live in different places), etc.
It’s also common that the characters in a love story seem ill-suited for each other in some way: popular teen and nerd, prosecutor and defense attorney, rich kid and poor kid, criminal and do-gooder, etc. Again, because people who are obviously perfect for each other don’t make very interesting stories. Ramp up that conflict!
The lovers are tested throughout the story, both individually and together. Why? Because love must be earned. Also, this is a good tip to make sure you show that the couple is in love (through tests and challenges) and are not just telling the reader they’re in love. Actions always speak louder than words, especially when it comes to romance.
Many love stories have happy endings, but they don’t have to. What’s important is that love was found, even if it can’t last.
Example to Study:
ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell
· MEET CUTE: Eleanor and Park meet when none of the other kids will let Eleanor sit with them on the bus. Park takes pity on her and moves his backpack so she can sit beside him.
· MAJOR OBSTACLE: Eleanor’s step-dad is a creepy dude who does not allow her to date or do much of anything.
· ILL-SUITED: Eleanor is a weird, poor kid from a broken family; Park is a half-Asian misfit who’s actually a tiny bit cool. No one expects them to get together, not even themselves.
· TESTS: Eleanor and Park’s relationship is tested whenever they’re in public together. They’re also tested individually with their own family and friends. How they react to these challenges slowly reveals the depths of their feelings for each other.
· ENDING: Spoiler alert, but the ending of this novel is not a happily-ever-after. Still, it’s real and raw, and the love they had was true and changed both characters.
Novels: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, THE NOTEBOOK by Nicolas Sparks, GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
Films: TITANIC, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, PRETTY WOMAN, DIRTY DANCING, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER
Thank you for joining us today. Other episodes in this series include:
Heather is a freelance screenwriter, game writer, and novelist based in Toronto. For more, visit her website at heatherjacksonwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @HeatherJacksonW
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