10+ Destructive Love Myths by MIH


What? Love? Really?

Mette Ivie Harrison has a really, really good list of 10+ Destructive Love Myths on her blog.  For those critics of romance out there (including myself on occasion) here is probably why you hate it.

Misconceptions about love perpetuate themselves from authors to readers, from generation to generation…. And we wonder why there are so many divorces. People don’t understand what love is.  So here’s a fantasy/romance author tackling the problem.

  1. Eternal love.
  2. The Big Wedding.
  3. Love at first sight.
  4. Love = Hate.
  5. Soul Mate.
  6. Happily Ever After.
  7. Rape Romance.
  8. Cinderella.
  9. Powerless Women.
  10. Bad Boys Are Hotter.
  11. Unrequited Love.
  12. White Knight.

4 responses to “10+ Destructive Love Myths by MIH

  • Joe Vasicek

    Interesting series. I probably fall into the “white knight” cliche the most with my stories, although in my current WIP the female protagonist kind of resents that. However, in every romantic subplot I’ve ever written, at least one of the characters falls into this trope (usually the guy, but not always).

    • Laura

      Hmmm. Upon reflection I don’t mind the existence of tropes or clichés. These have their place. What bugs me more is…well, when I go to read a romance and find that love doesn’t exist in it. It’s all physical attraction/lust, but the author on their blog talks about it like there’s no higher love than the relationship they wrote in that book. Things like that, where the writing reflects things about the authors the authors never intended to reveal…. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine. Sometimes it saddens me. That particular book and the realization the author was mistaking lust for love startled me, and since then I’ve tried to take a step back and see what stories I write, what characters emerge from my psyche, what these things say about me and where I’m at maturity wise.

      If I myself have no hope, to use a personal example, but continue forward solely from hopeless determination to trudge forward–how then can my characters have hope when I have no idea what it is? My characters then take on these same qualities because I know of no other alternatives. I’ve never experienced them from the inside out. The characters I created at a certain period of my life all have no hope–just determination to push through, expecting nothing to get better but working through it anyway.

      The same conversation comes about in acting. Some of the best villains are played by the nicest people because they know what complexity of character looks like, they know what good and evil look like because they’ve battled it, themselves. You can have a jerk play a villain but the only way they’ll be able to do it is to simply be themselves, knowing no other way to be evil.

      It just seems that romance is an obvious area where an author betrays their core beliefs. Like if someone honestly believes that a one-night stand has no psychological repercussions on a person, a protagonist will therefore have none later in the book. Or if the authors know that there SHOULD be consequences but they don’t know really what those are, the aftermath seems forced and Victorian. Pedantic and unnatural.

      Another example, (though I realize I’m rambling). I once read several books by an author and each book portrayed the same belief that children can have no feelings for each other and they all mature and gain emotions and physical reactions in the exact same way at the exact same point of their lives, following the exact same patterns. None of this was intended, it was just a very distinct, core belief the author had that shone through. I found it rather offensive simply because it betrayed how ignorant the author was about human nature. It rang false, and though fiction is supposedly all lies, I didn’t want to encounter lies about love, feelings, and human nature.

      Just something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

  • Joe Vasicek

    Yeah, I’ve wondered a little about that too. Like with David Gemmell and George R. R. Martin–Martin’s stuff feels so dark, where everyone is a bad guy and anyone who tries to be good gets brutally victimized. Gemmell’s also got shades of gray, but he emphasizes the heroism in his characters, and redeems his bad guys in some surprising and extremely powerful ways. Two fantasy writers, completely different views of human nature.

    It does make me a little nervous, though: what do people see in my stories? Because even though it’s probably true that your writing betrays your core beliefs, it’s also true that you can write about evil without actually being evil. Like Dan Wells, for example; his books are disturbing, but I don’t think (all evidence to the contrary) that he’s done any of the nasty things he has his characters do. And if people read into my books the same way, I’m worried they might think I’m someone or something that I’m not.

    So I guess all you really can say is that whoever writes it, a story is civilization’s way of talking to itself. And from that perspective, I’m not at all surprised that most romance novels these days mistake lust for love. I guess the key to counteracting that is to first be a part of a society that rejects that premise, even if it means going against the cultural mainstream.

    But then, I’m of the opinion that our civilization is in rapid decline and will probably collapse in a major, fall-of-Rome kind of way within the next two hundred years. If the ship is sinking, the best you can do is get yourself and your family to a lifeboat and shove off.

    • Laura

      Yeah, I agree that our civilization is in rapid decline. The sad thing is that Rome lasted WAY longer than we have even been around, though I’m not sure getting in a lifeboat is the best option. Then again, I’m the type to go down with the ship and die trying to save it. Lol, maybe that’s why I’m ill.

      The whole ‘is the depiction of evil actually evil?’ debate has been a fascinating one. I’m not sure that’s the exact situation as Wells, Gemmell and Martin’s various uses of it in their books, though. Hmm. On one hand I want to question when an author writes so bleakly that nothing Good ever wins. I wonder what their inward purpose is, or what their own inward conversation with themselves is like? For the longest time I wrote about Good struggling against Evil for Good’s sake, rather than for the sake of winning–so that meant that Evil almost always triumphed in my stories, or Good had unusual victories, ones so subtle you’d have to step back in order to see them as a success.

      But now, with the intervention of hope in my own life, Good battles Evil and finds greater successes and happiness along the way. It’s not as bleak. But that’s because of a change within my own self and a self-conscious battling of the old me vs. the new me. I wonder if Gemmell is more like the new me and Martin is more like the old me, in their view of the world? Hmm. Interesting.

      As for Dan Wells, perhaps we should ask the Writing Excuses crew to talk about the subject and see what they think. Unless it’s already been done? I can’t remember.

      But I think…I think the trends stretching across a span of novels make it easier to view an author’s internal structures of thought and feeling and paradigm rather than individual books or characters. It’s impossible to tell what an author’s opinion is from one thing alone; books are a stage and an untrustworthy one. But I can look at all of Sanderson’s books and know that religion is important to him because he consistently thinks about it in all of his books. I can’t always tell what he believes, but I know its deeply a part of him.

      So I wouldn’t worry about what you portray or betray about yourself as you write your books. But it will definitely be interesting to go back and look at them and see how YOU have grown and matured and how your life has shaped what you’ve chosen to write about.

      Yeah, like how society talks to itself by what stories it chooses to tell.

      Hmmm. Interesting things to think about. Sorry about the wait in reply, I needed a brain in order to type all of this out. <.<

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