Story Beyond the Chase

Feeling chatty today? I’m feeling chatty.

Ruth, over at Booktalk & More, recently started a discussion about the novel heroine Marguerite, where she pointed out our culture’s obsession with the “chase” part of a romance, to the extent that we expect the story to trickle away once the chase is over.

In a sense this blog title is already a misnomer, because movement is required for any story, and chasing is a fun movement before or after the relationship is solidified.

I’ve mentioned before that “the moonlighting curse” isn’t strictly logical, and I appreciate how that (2nd link) article puts the focus clearly on the skill (and guts) of the shows’ writers, rather than what the actors do onscreen (Seriously, EVERYTHING is being done on television now to some critical acclaim, and it’s all about the Story and the way the it’s told).

But I digress.

There are a couple of articles available for the Googling about shows that have successfully avoided/ignored the supposed curse, which, on one level, make me roll my eyes, because haven’t we just gotten through saying that EVERYTHING works (at least temporarily) if it’s told right?!

The truth is, it’s plain *easier* to tell a story about unhappy people. But they have to be nice people (if you want the largest audience to like them), and that invokes everybody’s Bambi/Disney-orphan instincts, and we want the poor beautiful people to be happy.

And so shipping is born…

Again, I digress.

But it’s an intriguing digression. Time yourself and let me know how long it takes you to get back. ;}


Conflict is easier to create when there are more variables. Like, Who’s going to end up with whom?

(Hint: the big names on the movie poster.  OH, we don’t have a poster? Now we’re back to my arena.)

When the couple is already established, the writer/storyteller has to be more creative, clever or deft to bring off the satisfying story. You have a tighter structure to work within, so (theoretically) you have fewer stock scenarios to work with.

Basically, I’m going to assume you’re a better storyteller if you can give me a satisfying story that doesn’t depend on petty rivalry or (say) miscommunication as a plot device.

Walden/Disney’s Prince Caspian made me NUTS about this.

I don’t actually mind not-talking being the obstacle, because sometimes real people don‘t talk, but it has to be handled so. carefully.

 My point: I’d love to see a list of books/shows/movies that have married main characters that actually enjoy being married. Naturally there still has to be conflict, so maybe (like Ruth’s example of SP) they start out unhappy, but I like my stories with a splash of hope and a solid HEA (happily-ever-after), even if there’s more action to come.

My current list is very short: Undercover Blues has a nicely cooperative couple, Chuck (I haven’t watched every episode yet but I know the ending) worked to show them in cooperation. Bones portrays a mutually respectful couple, as do the books Impossible and The Sherwood Ring.

And by ‘cooperative’ and ‘respectful’ I do not mean to discount passion or delight. Those have to be present too, or I’m not sure how the couple is, um, enjoying the relationship at all.

I have many other examples of respect and cooperation, but these are the only ones I can think of just now that actually include “commitment” as part of the story line before the end.

The partnering of equals, the awakening respect and love are always elements of my favorite type of book,–and not only romantic pairings. Whether it’s mentoring or marriage I love to watch connection.

To my great delight, however, there are more examples in my folktale collections. And they make a terrific sort of shorthand for the variety of roles marriage can play in a story– either as context or as an element of the chemistry.

What amuses me is how I’ve been drawn to these long before I was consciously collecting them, and as a result many of my Tuesday Tales (from back in the day) involve married and/or engaged main characters.

  • 1,001 Nights (Frame story) — marriage is context and crucible
  • Count Alaric’s Lady — devotion and sacrifice are contrasted
  • The Prince and the Orphan — a Cinderella variant, so not strictly a marriage story, except that this described an only-wife situation in a polygamist culture, and that does happy things for my marriage-loving heart.
  • The White Deer — Portrays marriage as a bond or duty equal to, and perhaps surpassing, the filial bond
  • King Thrushbeard— a tale of trickery (and humility) on the part of the husband
  • The Braided Rope — A story of rescuing love
  • Straightening a Hair — A “clever wife saves the day” story. I enjoy these most when they don’t leave the man looking like an idiot. I mean, what does it say for the cleverness of the woman if she got herself tied to a dolt?
  • The Ebony Horse (Like the many variations on West of the Sun East of the Moon) doesn’t necessarily have a wedding before the end, but it’s not for lack of dedication. The beloved is torn away, and the partner left behind goes searching to find and reunite in a more-permanent fashion.
  • The Third Witch — a fascinating exploration of the meaning of marriage, and how one reconciles conviction with love and identity.
  • The Pickpockets — an amusing tale of like attracting like.
  • Half a Blanket —  a Wife both submitting and resisting; a dilemma that I think Christian women (at least, I know I’m not the only one) wrestle with

These aren’t all the marriage- stories I’ve collected, but among these and the others I haven’t put online are a cluster of novels that portray my personal themes, and my favorite formula of story.

I have yet to see if this type of storytelling is anything marketable, but as it’s the story that comes out every time I sit down, I can at least be thankful I don’t have to be dependent on my words for my daily bread.

4 thoughts on “Story Beyond the Chase

  1. Strangely enough I actually liked the Disney version of Prince Caspian. I thought th e actual book was a little too unrealistic in certain respects.

    Now I didn’t like Disney’s version of Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

  2. Well, I noted in my Prince Caspian (movie) review that I thought the adaptation improved on the novel in several areas. I was mainly frustrated that this movie (and the next, for that matter) takes the lazy-writing conflict when it doesn’t even exist in the book.

    Honestly, for me it feels worn out and recycled by the third movie. They all seem childish in their posturing to be “in-charge.”

    It even weakens the 3rd story somewhat. At Deathwater (Gold) Island their behavior is supposed to indicate enchantment by the *contrast* to their normal behavior and in the movie it’s just more of the same.


    But we all tend to rate adaptations by how well they adhere to our interpretation of the story, so it makes sense that I’m griping about contrived conflict.

  3. I did wander off a bit into “Everyone is Gay” in the shipping sidenote, mostly because it annoys me to NO END how passionately The Internet ships “Johnlock.”

    Can we not have a committed friendship between men that is not sexual?

  4. V. disappointing to me, as well, but a convincing illustration of how few people in this world have known genuine, self-giving love.

    Yes, there is something “magical” in relationships (like John & Sherlock’s) where natural bent and inclination aligns so much that equally natural selfishness gets lost in the slipstream. It’s the closest some will be able to come to agape love. (I’m convinced this is the type of selfless love some parents have naturally for their children.) It can be mistaken for “perfect” love when (to speak cynically, though I mean it truly) it is only a meshing of compatible neuroses.

    I can speak somewhat authoritatively on this, as Jay and I have this kind of love. It’s almost never been an effort, simply because so many of our desires have almost always been closely aligned. I’ve thanked God for this, wondering a little if we’d be too inflexible to change, or if it was just God’s gift to two conflict-abhorrent people.

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