With Valentine’s Day coming up, and our theme on this month’s Roundtable being romance, I thought it was apt to write a little something about romance. But we don’t need just little old me talking about it. Oh no no, we need some fresh, young perspective! And so I decided to interview my little sister and her friend. Who better to give romantic advice than little girls? Cianna is 6 and her friend Chastity is 9. Let’s see what they have to say about this whole love thing, and about what makes a good romance story.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Oh? Why do you, or don’t you believe in love at first sight?
Chasity: I think it’s really really weird. I don’t think you can start a relationship before you actually have a relationship as friends.
Cianna: Because it’s cute
Tell me about your favorite love story.
Chastity: I really like the love story of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider. And I also like the love story of Aladdin.
What is it about those love stories that make it your favorite?
Chastity: Um, I don’t know. They’re really cute and adorable and sweet how they… they just meet and grow in their relationship together, and um…. it’s really adorable.
What is it they do together, or for each other, that strengthens them and makes them a good couple? Like, do you think making sacrifices for each other is a good thing?
Chasity: Yes yes. Like I watched a Tarzan video last night, and Tarzan sacrificed his life for his whole family, and for the girl that was killing him.
Wow, that’s pretty intense. Why did he sacrifice himself for the girl that was killing him?
Chastity: Because he’s such a nice person. *giggles*
What about you Cianna, what’s your favorite love story?
Cianna: Robin Hood. (note: She is referring to the old classic with Errol Flynn from 1938… she’s obsessed with it!)
What makes Robin Hood your favorite love story?
Cianna: ummmmm….. Robin.
What is it about Robin?
Cianna: Well he’s nice and practically the main character in this story.
Is it because he’s brave and dashing, and puts others before himself?
Cianna: Uh huh!
And what do you think of the maid Marian?
Cianna: Well she’s cute.
Why do you think they fall in love with each other?
Cianna: Well…. it’s kinda cute….
Chasity: We it’s probably because they are both really caring and loving to other people, and put others before themselves. So they have a lot of similarities so… them um…
Cianna: Yeah that’s what I was gonna say.
Chastity: *giggles* Yeah right!
I was just watching it, and I think when maid Marian saw that Robin Hood was actually the good guy and really helping people, that opened her eyes. And then when maid Marian helped rescue Robin Hood, he saw how much she cared about him. And so he fell in love with her, too.
Are there any stories that it didn’t make sense for the people to fall in love?
Chasity: Uh…. I think in a dream? Oh I remember! It was in the Braidy bunch, when a guy just met the girl that day. And they get married in the guy’s house.
Then the girls started talking about something else, and laughing and giggly, and the conversation was at an end. Ah well, I managed to get some good thoughts.
The first thing I noticed is that in Chastity perspective, the best relationships start small. Growing from a friendship into something more. Cianna likes ones that are cute. I think these things relate- that is, I think having a relationship that grows from the bottom up is what makes it cute.
See, Cianna used to not like kissing. She would be the first to say “eww” and hide her face when the characters kissed in a movie. But that has changed recently, and I think I have my oldest brother and his new wife to blame for that. Because she used to think kissing was weird (which it kinda is, I mean if you really think about it….. kissing is really weird!) What makes it not weird is when there’s meaning and intimacy behind it.
Cianna, from basically the day she was born, has seen Jubal and Bethany together. First as friends, then as best friends, then dating, then engaged…. Now that Jubal and Bethany are married and can kiss, she doesn’t think it’s weird at all. Because their kiss has a lot more meaning to it. Part of that being that they saved their first kiss ever for their wedding day, and the other part that they really have grown together. Something my little sister has seen and picked up on.
In a good story, a character is not the same from the beginning to the end. It would be boring and disappointing if there was no character development. That goes for relationships as well; the two characters, and the relationship itself, need to change and grow. I believe the strongest relationships grow from friendship and a genuine care for the other person. But in a story, you might not have time to lay out the relationship from the very beginning. That’s where some skillfully placed back story comes in handy, with the present taking place where the relationship is changing. Also, a dramatic life or death situation is great for bounding!
Another theme I noticed from our short conversation, is that the principle of sacrifice makes for a strong romance. Now it doesn’t have to be a total self sacrifice in which one person gives their life for the other. (That can be very dramatic and good, but it’s also very sad, so be careful, you don’t want the fans and shippers coming for your neck.) It can be any sort of sacrifice: spending time helping them with something instead of something you had planned to do, caring for them when they are sick, putting yourself at risk by going and seeking out help to free them from a hanging, or fighting off the deep space pirates to protect them. Anything that shows they care enough to put the other person’s needs and safety before their own.
Good love is selfless, and grand acts of selflessness make dramatic love stories. Drama is good for stories, and selfless love is good for love stories.
However, be sure not to portray a flawless couple. Perfect couples don’t make for good romance in stories. No one would be able to relate, and you need conflict to make a story. But as long as you work into your story the idea of them growing and changing together, and include selfless acts and sacrifices they make for each other, you’ll have a couple that readers will want to root for.