Put the 6 steps (‘beats’) of this generic romantic plot into the correct order!
- They meet by a strange coincidence again, and there is a repeat of the initial connection, but the original problem repeats and there is an absolutely terrible argument or crisis moment where all seems lost. They separate, apparently forever! (Don’t cry!)
- Two people suffering loneliness (or unhappy relationships) meet by chance… and there’s some wonderful spark or special moment! It’s a slightly giddy moment too, with touching humour. (Ahhh! Cute. Don’t throw up! It might happen to you.)
- The universe rewards the protagonist’s self-sacrifice with a miracle! The love-interest is moved beyond words by the self-sacrifice of the other. ‘Of course I love you. I’ve always loved you, I now see!’ And the love-interest in turn saves the protagonist. (Or not!)
- Realising what they need to do, the protagonist rushes back to the love-interest and sacrifices themselves to ‘save’ the love-interest, even though it means that they might never be together in the end! (Such a selfless and pure love! I need a tissue!)
- Wallowing in their misery and separation, a random event or conversation with a friend allows the protagonist to realise the true nature of the problem, their selfishness or previous blindness. It’s a moment of self-realisation. And they know the solution now! (Yay!) But what if it’s too late? (Yikes!)
- Yet events, circumstances and/or self-doubt pull them apart… so that after that initial moment they now suffer even more! They are upset, angry or haunted by ‘What if?’ The protagonist might decide to give up on ever finding someone (Sad!)
Answer: 1b, 2f, 3a, 4e, 5d, 6c
In previous lessons, we looked at the plot-shape for fantasy and science fiction (mini-lesson no.7) and horror and suspense (mini-lesson no.12). As you can see from the above, romance (and erotic fiction) has its own traditional shape.
The classic shape for romance is used by blockbuster Hollywood movies like When Harry Met Sally and The Adjustment Bureau, both of which have happy endings. At the same time, romance can sometimes have an unhappy ending (note the ‘Or not! warning in step 6), when one or both of lovers tragically dies, as in Romeo and Juliet and Troilus and Cressida.
Curiously, erotic fiction uses the same plot-shape as romance! You might consider Fifty Shades of Grey as an example. The difference between erotic fiction and romance? Well, the former involves sexual encounters, while romance involves playful banter and excessive eye-contact (flirtation, the style of which varies from culture to culture) over a cup of coffee instead. That’s human beings for you.
Use the general plot-shape above to write your own specific plot summary for a piece of romantic or erotic fiction.
If you’d like me to look at how successful your attempt is, please do feel free to email me (Adam): adz_d2003 @ yahoo.co.uk – deleting the two spaces either side of the @ sign.
I’ll be posting a new lesson every day (Monday-Friday), to help people who are stuck at home because of the coronavirus situation. These mini-lessons will give you a useful daily routine, and might just keep you sane! Stay safe.
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