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Monday, March 16, 2009

Do opposites really attract? Let's ask Elaine Corvidae!

I've always had a weakness for "opposites attract" stories--stories where romance blooms between two people who seem to have nothing in common. Whether it's Buffy and Angel, Beauty and the Beast, or even the ocean-dwelling Little Mermaid and her land-bound prince, if you can convince me these opposites can find true happiness together, I'm there.

So it's no surprise that most of my books feature a romance between two very different people. Whether it's an older university-educated nobleman falling in love with a spunky young factory worker (Winter's Orphans), a pacifist wizard and a barbarian warrior woman (Tyrant Moon), an uptown girl and a downtown boy (Prince of Ash), or even a demon and a human scribe (Demonheart), I've probably worked the theme into my story somehow.

People have been writing the "opposites attract" scenario for centuries, but what is it that we find so compelling about it? In part, it may be because there is a natural source of tension between two "opposites," which can become (and fuel) sexual and emotional tension. It also gives the relationship natural obstacles to overcome; misunderstandings or arguments that are an outgrowth of character development, not manufactured situations that could be overcome if the characters would just talk to each other. We wonder how these characters will ever get together, how they will ever find enough common ground to kiss, let alone have a relationship.

I also like to believe that "opposites attract" is a popular theme because it's about two people discovering that, no matter how great their differences may appear at first glance, underneath they aren't so different after all.

Which brings us to the question: can an opposites-attract relationships last past the first flush of romance? Once the hormones have died down, is there anything left? Part of my job as a writer is to convince the reader that yes, these two have a chance. I find that to be one of the more interesting bits of writing, to be honest, and so ended up exploring the idea more fully using Thraxis (my pacifist wizard) and Arrow (my barbarian warrior woman) in two more books. Heretic Sun deals with the rough bits of their early marriage, where they haven't quite learned to live with one another yet, and Sorceress Star revisits their lives a few years later, as parents raising a young daughter to be aware of both sides of her heritage.

So what do you think? Do opposites really attract? If they do, can they last? Or do they just make a fun read?

1 comment:

Tami said...

Oh I certainly think that opposites attract! If it were not so, my bf and I wouldn't be together. It's the things that we differ on that make things spicy for us. I have been in relationships where we were very similar, and it was so boring and dull that it lasted next to no time at all. Without that spark of learning to give and learning about life from the differences in us, life would be a dull dull place.