Saturday, April 9, 2011

Exactly like this, except not at all...

Despite all appearances, this blog post is not a cleverly disguised advertisement for TVTropes. Even if it is one of the greatest websites on the Internet.

Personal preferences in writing and reading can be wildly different, occasionally even within the same person's head. Doublethink is often a reality.

For example, I'm not much of a romance buff. I don't like romcoms, rarely venture into the "romance" section of any bookstore or website and just generally don't care for it. However, I do love me a good love story. My shipping goggles are custom-made and quite nifty, with night-vision and everything.

It's quite a strange phenomenon. Thing is, I like my love stories/ship teasing in the midst of something else, as sort of a secondary element. Romantic plot tumors drive me up the wall. Less is more and showing is so, so important rather than telling.

For a minor example, I've been working my way through Gargoyles lately *minor spoiler alert* and seriously fell in love with the minor characters (three "minors" in one sentence there...) of Princess Katherine and the Magus. They have an interesting, downplayed dynamic. It's adorable and it makes my inner fangirl shamelessly go *squee*.

But it was such background information, more character motivations than overt plot. The Magus is obviously doing things because he cares about Katherine and they hang out a lot together, but it's all in favor of the bigger story. We see them together and it is sweet and we know something is there because of how he looks at her, but  we don't need it to go into details because we see it.

And it even gets some more coverage in later episodes when *slightly more major spoiler alert* they are in Avalon and raising the gargoyles' eggs. But then, that beautifully subtle character development suddenly goes all dark and tragic on us when it turns out that the Magus never told Katherine how he felt and so she fell for another guy. And he stepped aside because he wanted his beloved to be happy and he had a slight inferiority complex. It gets its own little flashback/monologue and everything and yet... it isn't the focus of the story. It explains why he is doing what he is doing and it makes the end of the episode all the more bittersweet, but it isn't what the show, or even the episode, is about. We get it and there are beautiful little moments were it is explored and focused on, but the story moves on.

It's how I like my romance. And it's odd, because it's also subjective. I'm usually interested in the characters and if they fall in love, they fall in love. They drive the story so that's what the story becomes. But I like it to be limited. Usually. Stick to the story, let it proceed. Don't make everything come to a standstill because two characters are making googly-eyes at each other. It's why rabid shippers have shipping goggles: so we can take the little subtle moments and run with them, rather than have stuff smushed in our face. Then just give us our happy resolution in the end and we're good. (Yeah, cuz I like my happy romantic endings. I'm a sap like that. Every time I watch/read any version of "Romeo and Juliet", I honestly wonder if they're going to manage to stay alive long enough to get together. Even though I honestly can't stand the original play.)

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