There has been some progress on the publication front in terms of Prayer of the Handmaiden, but I’m not yet at liberty to announce details. My deepest gratitude, though, to everyone who’s been asking for updates. I hope to have some news for you all soon! <3
In the meantime, I’ve been slowly formulating thoughts for the third Ithyria book. I know who the main characters will be, and some of the major plot points, but the thing that’s eluding me right now is the hook — the specialness that will tie plot, characters and romance together. In the search for it, though, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what elements of a romantic relationship are the most satisfying. What captures our imaginations and hearts, what draws us to the characters and their relationship and makes us root for them?
As it happens, I’ve also been watching a lot of Korean dramas lately. If you’re a K-drama fan then you know what I mean when I say that the writers of these dramas have mastered the art of creating addicting romantic storylines. Yet so many of the elements are completely cliched, and repeat over and over from one show to the next. Jealousy. Social barriers, particularly between economic classes. Two people who hate each other eventually falling in love. Being rescued and bailed out of trouble. Lots of odd excuses for the couple to end up being in awkward physical proximity, or even better — accidentally kissing. Secrets that are inevitably discovered. Misunderstandings that result in unnecessary misery. A lot of these plot points are so blatantly silly that it requires a generous suspension of disbelief in order to accept them. Yet I keep going back, episode after episode, wanting to see the couple get together. (Naturally, they WILL get together at the end… That’s not even really in question.)
So what is it, I started wondering, about these silly, overdone stories that keeps me returning episode after episode? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the primary elements of every romantic scene always fall under one of three main categories: longing, protection, or intimacy. And then I started thinking about the most romantic scenes in the stories I’ve written, and they all fall into these categories too. So I realized, in order to make a love story that’s satisfying, these elements need to exist in some variation, and they need to be well-developed.
Longing encapsulates a lot of different things, but what it really boils down to is the character’s desire for someone they either can’t have or “shouldn’t” want.
Protection is probably the most straightforward, and it involves the character putting their own interests aside in order to protect or defend their love interest.
And Intimacy is a form of either emotional or physical closeness that the character doesn’t allow anyone except their love interest to have.
The more I’ve considered this, the more fascinated I am with how well this works to describe all of the most satisfying, squee-worthy, romantic scenes I’ve ever read or watched. So stay tuned, because I plan to blog about each of these elements individually…