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Mysterious Allure Is Mysterious To Me

So, karenhealey and I are editing our books. This obviously requires a large amount of chattering on the internet. About important literary things, and also pie.

karenhealey: (The names of the couple I think are true love in the Demon's Lexicon series) get each other on about fifty billion different levels of "each other"
sarahtales: that is why they are the OTP. ;)
sarahtales: Mark and Ellie (the hero and heroine of Guardian of the Dead) get each other
and in fact fall in love via the process of getting to get each other
karenhealey: Oh yes.
sarahtales: Which is in fact ideal for me
the act of communication and understanding as act of love ekcetrar
Is what I like.
karenhealey: The nastiest thing Ellie does is (spoiler)
Because it is just true enough to hurt him really bad
And she said it, because she knew it would hurt
Because she loves him!
sarahtales: Very true
nobody can hurt you like the ones you love for a reeeeason
sarahtales: which is why falling for a Mysterious Stranger makes little sense to me
Being intrigued and attracted, sure
But with the knowing comes the loving
And so I demands it for all relayshunships I enjoy
karenhealey: Pride +Prejudice
sarahtales: Yes!! You know what is great
that bit at the end of Pride and Prejudice
where Elizabeth is like Darcy, man
Still needs to learn how to laugh at himself!
in their marriage they will have stuff to work on
and will learn to know and therefore love each other better
DARCY: Elizabeth I cannot believe you said that, in front of the prime minster
ELIZABETH: he didn't get it, and it was lols.
DARCY: it is always lols with you madam!

Another thing I like to do, obviously, is defile works of timeless genius in this manner.

I was also thinking of tropes I really like in books. There aren't that many of them, but one traditional thing I really love: the romantic couple who are the Bicker Twins. Darcy and Elizabeth. Beatrice and Benedict. Many other contemporary examples.

Obviously the Bicker Twins can be done really wrong, and just read like horrible people sniping at each other because they really don't like each other (and you don't like them either). But all things can be done wrong.

I have also seen the Bicker Twins used as an example of problematic relationships in books. I really do not think that is so. Because a pair who argue together, in the best way - zinging back and forth, coming from different viewpoints, both being intelligent, neither backing down or in any way afraid - well, they're going to get to know each other. And true knowledge is very close to true love.

Anyway, it is very different from a Mysterious Boyfriend who scares you yet excites you, or love from afar, or love at first sight. I do not believe in any of those things. (It is possible that the problem is I have a cold, dead heart.)

Which is not to say that bickering is the only way to express equality and rapport between people. Obviously it is not! But I do think it is one way. And it is a way I love.

Your thoughts on romance and mystery as always, very welcome!



( 113 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 29th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
As much as I love the Mysterious Stranger, love from afar, and love at first sight tropes, I don't love them as the lynchpins of a romance. I love them as the starting points of "let's get to know each other and maybe do the horizontal tango".

Sometimes Harlequins fail me in this matter, but HQNs failing me is a very expected part of my HQN reading. (Helpfully, failtastic HQNs can be cut up and made into art!)
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, all these things are totally cool as a start-off point! Like Mark in Guardian of the Dead is a mysterious hot boy in class who Ellie fancies. And then he enchants her, she beats him up for information, they talk of Ellie's love for violence and Mark's murderous inclinations, and then it can be love. ;)
(no subject) - beckyh2112 - Apr. 29th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
The other thing about (Elizabeth! Darcy! Beatrice! Benedict! My favorites!) is the "born in a merry hour" aspect; i.e. they are not humorless jerks... well, I guess Darcy is a bit, but HE WILL LEARN. And actually he brings the snark too, it's just a bit more deadpan. What is love without sarcasm? Naught! Naught I say!

I think the problem with many romances is that they end when the couple gets together. I'm always like, well, okay. Now that we've got that out of the way... !!! But the story is just starting! It's part of the... "okay, you love each other, but do you like each other?" thing Must I imagine your relationship following as entirely without conversation? If so... feh.

In short: yes.
Apr. 29th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
Tommy and Tuppence!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Apr. 30th, 2010 01:03 am (UTC) - Expand
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Apr. 29th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I LOVE the Bicker Twins, but it's worth noting that I also love them in platonic relationships; adorable, understanding-gaining wit-battles can foster friendship as well.
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, of course it can: I was just talking about it as a trope of romance.
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
"True knowledge is close to true love."

Apr. 29th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
Beatrice and Benedict are one of my favorite couples of all time!

I think The Bicker Twins (I love that name for the trope; surprisingly it's not a TV trope), in general, are awesome because it's obvious from the beginning that they're going to get together, it's just a matter of when. So it's like the reader, or viewer if it's a TV show or movie, has the inside scoop and you get that feeling of superiority when they finally do get together; "I knew it all along!" Plus, if done right, it's a fountain of snark, wit, and epic one-liners. Everybody wins!

ETA: Found it! Belligerent Sexual Tension. I like the Bicker Twins better. They even mention Much Ado about Nothing!

Edited at 2010-04-29 03:28 pm (UTC)
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
*sucked into TV tropes for 8 hours* I blame yoooooooooouuuuuuuuuuu!
(no subject) - shiraz_wine - Apr. 29th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)
Darcy and Elizabeth ftw ^_^

I don't believe in love at first sight either. But I also recently experienced falling in love with someone over a ridiculously short time period. Probably because I already knew he was trustworthy before we started going out, and then spent hours and hours and hours talking instead of sleeping, so I suppose my experience could be a validation of your "with the knowing comes the loving" comment... I dunno. I am rambling slightly ^_^ But you do not have a cold, dead heart. I highly doubt you could write so awesomely if you did :P
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Sometimes Bicker Twins can be a shortcut for "See? See? They have Sexual Tension!!!!!" and that drives me crazy. I love a good pair of Bicker Twins (like the ones you mention--I ADORE BEATRICE AND BENEDICK), but I also want to get the sense that they actually care about each other beneath the bickering. Also, sense of humor is crucial! Not necessarily that one or the other needs to be extraordinarily witty, just that they don't take quips/tiffs/arguing as OMG A MORTAL OFFENSE!

Personally, I'm a total sucker for the emotionally clueless girl and the emotionally intuitive boy. (Um...this may be why I ship Katniss and Peeta so hard.)

BOY: Here's this thing that's really special and specific to you! A gift! A present! Because I lo---
GIRL: Why thanks! This is why we're friends!
BOY: Uh, sure. You're welcome?
GIRL: I seem to have hurt your feelings. I do not comprehend how.
BOY: Nah, doesn't matter. Let's go do this thing you and I enjoy!
GIRL: Yay! Except I do not understand why you do this with me as I am clearly better than you. And smarter.
BOY: You know...I love you, but you're a freaking idiot.
GIRL: No I'm not! But I love you anyway.
BOY: ...
GIRL: ...oh. OH. Heeyyyyyyyyyy...
BOY: Yeah, took you long enough.

(Which is why I love Knightley and Emma so.)
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
. . . I think you just described one of my own couples. \o/
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Apr. 29th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
*uses icon of my favourite Bicker Twins*
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Oh I loooooooooooooooooove this pair. Love so hard. *thumbs up*
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
"Bicker Twins" is a great name for that!!!
Apr. 29th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
Possibly I coin a phrase!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - May. 1st, 2010 05:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
As I said to Karen, I imagine these conversations happening while you both wear princess dresses and tiaras. Because it is the truth.
Apr. 29th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
I started to love the Bicker Twins as a romantic trope at a very young age, and now I'm not such a fan anymore, probably because thinking that was a sign of TRUE LOVE may have warped my romantic development somewhat. I still love it as a platonic trope and like it as a romantic one, but sadly not as much as I used to. Even though it's fiction, I do sometimes find myself thinking "you fools! Don't you know it will never work out!" And then it does, and I go, "oh. Well okay then! CONTINUE."

*crosses fingers, prays for Alan/Mae to be The Pairing*

Is TDL out (in US markets) as mass market paperback, or trade?
Apr. 29th, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)
Trade: YA books are usually only published in hardcover and then trade. (Or just trade, depending.) No idea why!

*takes note* I am always extremely interested to see what pairings people want. (Sometimes I am very surprised by them! But always interested.)
(no subject) - shachi - Apr. 29th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Apr. 29th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
I think the Bicker Twins are fine, but usually I need more than just banter in order to be convinced that they like each other. (there are exceptions, of course, but this is what generally happens for me)

What I really love though? Is when we have a super level-headed, uber competent lady, and the guy loves that about her and worships the ground he walks on (as oppose to whoooo hey, our love interest sweeps in with skills that are THAT much better than the leading lady, and wows her with his superiority or something). Add that with a dose of emotionally clueless girl and emotionally intuitive boy and I'm a goner.

(Katsa/Po foreverrrrrrrrrr)
Apr. 29th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC)
One of the great things about the Bicker Twins is that they frequently are both right. And that's a trope I love in romance--when they both get to be right, both get to help and support and yell at each other, etc. I'm profoundly uninterested in relationships where all the being right comes from one direction. Or the being wrong.
Apr. 29th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, indeed.
(no subject) - harborshore - Apr. 29th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 29th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Ah Pride and Prejudice and the Advent of Lolspeak ... I'm sure you could get that published these days ;-)
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Apr. 29th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
I agree completely about what you say in re: instant fiery attraction being too easy. I believe I once put it that the sizzle of burning loins drowned out meaningful conversation.

That said, I like Kirk and Spock's dynamic in the movie, but see it as solely friendship, for I believe Spock loves Uhura forever. ;)
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(no subject) - 24_centuries - Apr. 29th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear!
I love the Bicker Twins! 'Tis my favorite trope as well.
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
DARCY: it is always lols with you madam!

This may be my favouritist quote EVAH! *hee hee hee*
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
I distrust Alan because he is too manipulative for my taste, and thus I hope he is not part of the OTP. I honestly feel he's probably going to die, which I would be a-okay with if it was written well, which I have no doubt it would be with you writing it!

I also don't feel that Mae will be part of the OTP. I think she'll survive, but I think her character would be better served if she stayed single for now. Maybe, like. Whatever the plot of the trilogy runs through and then she gets to go off and have adventures and love for herself.

... I think I hope Jamie is part of the OTP! I have no idea with who, but I think it would be lovely to have a gay OTP. It could perhaps be Gerry/Jamie.
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
I must sit down now as I feel rather faint at the idea of my poor Alan, killed off to applause, and my sweet Mae, shipped off to Timbuctoo! (Which is not to say I am thoroughly opposed to the idea of killing off characters. Obviously, sometimes this must be done. But I always find it sad! Well, maybe not with Black Arthur...)
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Apr. 29th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)

The old "thin man" films.. bicker twins madly while solving crimes. Also, they get upstaged by small dog.
Apr. 29th, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
DARCY: Elizabeth I cannot believe you said that, in front of the prime minster
ELIZABETH: he didn't get it, and it was lols.
DARCY: it is always lols with you madam!

I died right here in the school library. How can you be so awesome?
Apr. 29th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
I love Bicker Twins, they are so fun to write!
I also don't believe in love at first sight, although I think you can have a sort of instantaneous connection with someone that can later transform into love. Mysterious Stranger and love from afar are great plot devices but you need to have something more substantial than just that to make a great romance.
In my opinion, the best romances are the ones where character growth happens either because of love or hand in hand with it (if that makes sense).
Apr. 29th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
I like shared interests. There's nothing sexier than a couple who can slay demons together, gobble pastries together, spy together, etc. Or do all that separately and then come home and help each other clean their weapons or whatever.

Probably my all-time best real-life example of that was when I was dating a guy who, like me, was sometimes involved in dangerous stuff and, like me, had done a lot of emergency response training, and we sat down and figured out in advance what we would do should we come upon an emergency situation together, so we wouldn't waste time on the scene deciding who was in charge, making conflicting attempts to protect each other, etc.

Sadly he did not work out for other reasons, but that was the moment when I thought, "This is my ultimate romantic fantasy of compatibility!"
Apr. 29th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
*nods* There is definitely a reason why 'together, they fight crime!' is a catchphrase: these people both like to do an exciting thing and do it really well together!
Apr. 29th, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
I am a big fan of lots of different romance tropes. I like the 'bicker twins' one that you describe above (it's the dynamic of my favourite 90s teen movie, Ten Things I Hate About You, although I don't like the film's source material - The Taming of the Shrew - at all), but I also like that as a friendship or familial relationship trope.

That being said, I am a huge fan of the 'dangerously alluring and terrifying' trope, and a lot of my OTPs seem to have this dynamic. However, I prefer it if the terror is mutual, and if it leads to some kind of mutual transformation. Otherwise it's all about dodgy and unequal power dynamics, which I find a bit squicky.

One of my other favourite relationship tropes, and one which I only got into as I got older (ie grew out of my teenage angst) is relationship-as-compromise. (The epitome of this trope is Mai and Anji in Kate Elliott's Crossroads series. They have an arranged marriage, and it appears that she's marrying him to get the increased prestige as the wife of a captain in the colonial administration of her country. Then things get bad for them, and suddenly they're relying more on her mercantile skills of compromising and bargaining, and you realise that he married her in order to gain the advantage that her skills bring. So both of them grow to respect one another, and both entered into the relationship for slightly mercenary reasons, and somehow in recognising and accepting this, it makes it easier for them to fall in love than if the relationship hadn't had self-interest at its heart.)

Wow, I got rambly at the end there, but I hope it's obvious what I mean.

(Also, Nick/Mae is my OTP, but I'm realistic enough to realise it probably won't happen, and will be happy as long as all the characters end up happy or at least not unhappy.)
Apr. 29th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
I love seeing the different range of pairings people wish for: it is fun because I do not think any of the characters are an easy match with any of the others, so for any of them to pair up it would need a journey. And it is interesting to see what journeys people would like to go on, and how many different journeys they see. Makes me feel like I have a wide-open landscape. ;)

I also love Ten Things I Hate About You, while also disliking The Taming of the Shrew! Dodgy and unequal power dynamics are always not choice, and the pair in Crossroads sounds fascinating! *takes note*
(no subject) - dolorosa_12 - Apr. 29th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Apr. 29th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Because I am a naturally argumentative person, most of the people I am closest to (both platonically and...un-platonically!) I bicker with constantly, so the 'Bicker Twins' trope, as you call it (a name I love much more than the one I usually seem to get - 'like an old married couple...') is one that is near and dear to my heart also! It always seems much more real to me when couples argue. Not over huge, giant fundamental things so they get angry and throw things, but little frustrations and stupid fights over whether it's possible to smuggle Nazi gold out of Switzerland, for example!

I am hoping for some lovely bickering between my absolute dream and Pairing Of Awesome AKA OTP of Alan and Sin in Covenant. Although bickering generally is very happily received, so long as there is lots of super adventuring and fabbiness between the bicker. Which I am sure there shall be! :D
Apr. 29th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
I have a definite weakness for Bicker Twins and I don't even know if I realized it until just now. There are some pairings where I love the absence of it - Gwen/Morgana from BBC's Merlin for instance - but overall, Total Love.

I do agree that it is a fine line, however. When written, the characters have to truly be equal or otherwise it comes off as bullying. Or if they are not both equally passionate/intelligent, it really just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I usually end up disliking one if not both of the people involved. This can also be thrown if the characters are being portrayed by actors and one just isn't able to bring the right essence to the character and thus, to the bickering.

I would love nothing more than to find a novel with two female characters who are Bicker Twins and it slowly builds into a real relationship instead of devolving into "Bitch." "Slut." and all the other derogatory slurs thrown about. I should clarify to state that I want it to be a romantic relationship, not a platonic one. Platonic is all well and good but not what I'm looking for in my ideal story :)
Apr. 30th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
Do you mind if I friend you? We seem to share some fandoms/ships (Gwen/Morgana! Spock/Bones!) although I see from your Yuletide letter that we are going to clash hopelessly on tDL ships (I am mostly a Nick/Jamie girl, but my heart is not set on anything, I am mostly just interested in seeing what happens.)

Also I totally love your female Bicker Twins idea. *WANTS LIKE WOAH*
(no subject) - 24_centuries - May. 2nd, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - insane_duckfish - May. 4th, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
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