Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CSFF Blog Tour: Blogger's Choice Day Three

Today we will compare the structure of The Perilous Gard to classic plots for romance stories. In her article "Story Plots 101 – The Romance: How to Write a Romance With a Classic Story Structure," Kristina Bjoran identifies three types of romance stories, which she labels Phantom of the Opera, Cinderella, and Romeo and Juliet. Bjoran argues that the three structures are essentially romantic because they share two protagonists who fall in love and the story focuses on the love and plight of the two characters.

In the Phantom of the Opera type, a strong but lonely hero falls for the heroine. An unfortunate circumstance brings the characters together and initially the heroine finds the hero repulsive. They are forced to be together but after the hero does something heroic or honorable, the heroine falls for him. The two must then overcome obstacles that threaten to keep them apart. Ultimately, the heroine rescues the hero.

In the Cinderella type, the hero begins the story unfulfilled while the heroine leads a pathetic life. When the two meet, the heroine falls in love. Circumstances force them together, but the hero is hesitant. In the end, the hero pursues the heroine and takes her away from the desperate life she was leading.

In the Romeo and Juliet type, the protagonists are equals. The heroine begins the story in an altered set of circumstances from the once perfect world in which she lived. Nothing seems to help. The hero, in a dangerous pursuit of something important, meets the heroine and the two fall in love. Obstacles pose problems for their love but as it deepens, they determine to stay together at any cost. The story often ends tragically.

The Perilous Gard does not match any of these types exactly. The novel does not have dual protagonists but a single protagonist, Kate, through whose eyes all the action is seen and considered. Christopher is more like a sub-protagonist. The Phantom of the Opera type provides the closest fit as the hero begins in an unhappy state and does something honorable. Christopher is distraught and guilt-ridden over Cecily's disappearance and then exchanges himself for Cecily. Kate's exile is unfortunate and unfair but she does not find Christopher repulsive. She finds him mysterious and odd. The Phantom of the Opera type also posits the heroine as the primary actor, the savior of the hero. Kate orchestrates their time together in the pagan underworld and Christopher's rescue at the teind. The conclusion of The Perilous Gard more closely resembles the Cinderella type as Christopher pursues marriage to Kate without her knowledge and presumably takes her to a life more suited to her temperament.

The Perilous Gard presents a hero's journey of self-discovery with a romantic subplot. The story is far more than a young girl falling in love and finding a husband. "The Hero's Journey" provides a blueprint for a transformative experience, the meat and potatoes of all successful fiction. Kate's struggles bring about such an experience. She learns about an intelligence, fortitude, and strength of character that she did not know she possessed. How would her sister Alicia have fared under similar circumstances? Probably not as well. When the Lady returns in the final chapter to offer Kate a love potion, an easy path to win what she most desires, Kate refuses.
"Have no fear. The charm is only a small thing, easy to hide in those fine silken sleeves, and it will be lost in the wine soon enough. He will never know what you have done. No one will ever know."

"I am not afraid that he will catch me," said Kate.

"What else then? Who is to know?"

"Well," said Kate, almost apologetically, "I would." (p. 274)
Later, after accepting Christopher's proposal, she reflects on the Lady's offer, recognizing the gift as the Lady's subtle form of revenge.
The Lady had known. Her eyes missed very little, and she was subtle beyond belief. She had been speaking the truth when she said that she would not avenge herself on Kate or the Young Lord by anything so cheap as robbery or murder. Kate was in no state to trace out all the intricacies of the many truths she had told her, but she did find herself wondering what it was--exactly--that she had had in her hand.... It did not matter, as long as Kate went on thinking all her life that Christopher had spoken those words to her only because he was under a spell. (p. 280)
If Kate had accepted the potion, the gains from her pain and struggle would have been diminished. She would have failed to apply the lessons her experience taught. Her victory would have been hollow, indeed.

Reminder: Voting for the Clive Staples Readers' Choice Award is ongoing through the end of August. Book introductions, voting instructions, and Readers’ Choice survey are available at You must have read at least two of the nominations to vote. You're on the honor system here so please be honorable.

I recently posted a review for one of the nominees, Curse of the Spider King. See Cursing the Spider King.

For commentary from other tour members on their favorites, visit their blogs listed below.

Brandon Barr
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
George Duncan
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner

Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Mike Lynch
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Jason Waguespac
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

No comments:

Post a Comment