Thursday, November 25, 2010

Oh baby we really need to talk about Love

Don’t worry. I’m not about to get on my knees and babble about the inevitability of us.

This post is not about being in love (though I wish it was), this post is about the need of a strong romantic subplot in any given story.

You can’t escape it. Even if your story is an action packed intergalactic slasher affair, they will be an element of love. The main question here is not if you need a romantic subplot in your story – because you do – the real problem is to build and intertwine it with your main storyline so they flow harmoniously and naturally together.

The best way to do that is by connecting the main events in your storyline with the main event in your romantic subplots.

Let me explain:

When you map your project, you can build a timeline connecting all the major events that form your story.

If you’re writing a survival story, all the major events on your main timeline will be related to surviving a given ordeal. If you’re writing a crime story, they will be related to finding who committed the crime, etc.

Beside the main timeline, you can build a set of secondary timelines, where you list chronologically all the major events that form the romantic subplots of your story.

For example, if you’re writing a story where all the major events relate to surviving a giant ape and escaping Skull Island, you can also build a set of secondary timelines (or romantic subplots) strictly focusing on all the events related to the developing love between Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll as well as the destructive love between an ape and the girl.

You’ll find yourself with series of timelines that would look something like this (that’s my own timelines and subplots for How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend, by the way - and there's my chin and fingers too ;) :

The trick is to connect all the major events in the main storyline with all the essential turning points in the romantic subplots.

For example, Kong kidnapping Ann Darrow is definitely a major event in the main theme of surviving and escaping Skull Island. But it is also a main event in the romantic subplots concerning Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll (Jack decides to go after the girl and save her) as well as in Kong and Ann subplot (the Beast meets the Beauty).

If the major events in your main storyline are disconnected from the romantic subplots, there are big chances that the love story within your main story will feel artificial, unbalanced and somehow unmotivated.

Your work as a writer is to connect the dots between the different timelines and make sure that every major event in your main storyline says something about your romantic subplots.

If you do so, you can successfully convince people that a girl can fall for a monkey.

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