1. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    Bridging a romantic plot gap

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by historymom, Sep 2, 2015.

    The entire basis of my story is to have a young teenage girl on the American frontier marry an (obviously attractive) adult man and chronicle the journey of how they eventually come to love each other. The major problem is coming up with a feasible excuse for their marriage in the first place. So far my ideas and their challenges have been:
    • Guy needs a wife to take a particular job (but what sort of job in 1884 would require this?)
    • Girl is raped and parents want to marry her off to save face in case she's pregnant (but what's in it for Prince Charming?)
    Sadly, those are the only two scenarios I've considered. I've written about 30,000 words in nonchronological snippets that my friends have read and are all crazy to see in finished form, but I just can't seem to get over this massive crevasse in my plot outline. What angle could I use to come at this thing?
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2015
  2. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Honestly, the first thing I thought of, upon reading the book first option, was the movie Shakiest Gun In The West. A gunslinger bandit, played by a beautiful actress whose name escapes me, is hired by the government to find gun smugglers, while undercover as a homesteader. She ends up marrying a dentist, played by Don Knotts, when the agent originally playing her husband is murdered. Wackiness ensues.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If it's on the Frontier, I'm sure people married because they needed each other's labor. A man would need the wife in the home and the woman would need the man in the field. I could see a girl, maybe orphaned or in some other kind of financial straights that needed to marry or risk destitution, and if the man offered to be proper and not just rape her or marry her and expect sex, I can see him taking her on. They'd need to marry to be a proper couple.

    You could research the history of mail order brides on the Frontier for ideas.
     
  4. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    Thanks for the input, GingerCoffee. I like your "location," by the way. I did buy/read a book on mail order brides and have considered working a story along those lines (similar to the movie "Sweet Land"). They did need each other, but I guess my response to that is, Why would a perfectly eligible bachelor choose or accept a potentially pre-pubescent wife? I mean, it can and did happen, but I want the reader to really buy into this plotline. I want it to seem necessary, intentional, and not the least bit convenient.
     
  5. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    1. She looked like / is related to someone that was important to him
    2. He thinks he can control a younger girl.
    3. To stave off unwanted advances from other females.
    4. She's 'pure' mentally. Life hasn't ruined her sense of wonder and whatnot yet.
     
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  6. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    The issue I have with your two options is that they both almost feel like... like these two can't be a couple?

    There both gimmicky in the sense of saying. "These two don't love each other. They are getting married for X reason."

    Now I am not saying you can't do that. I could probably think of a reason or two to add to the pool. But other users are doing that well already.

    So I instead challenge the underline assumption. (Not to be mean or anything. I just figured maybe by challenging the assumption you see something you hadn't before.) Which is. Why does it have to be a gimmick? I get the point of the story is two people falling in love and the couple/married seems like they are already in love but what if they weren't in love but were a couple?

    Just two high-school-sweet-hearts that liked each other. Got married, and then after the fact fell in love. If they start together. I assume it isn't all rainbows and sun shine right?

    Seeing a couple that likes each other start to wonder if they hate each other as the situation forces them together only to learn they love each other sounds not only realistic but an interesting story. Right?

    In either case. I wish you luck. :D
     
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  7. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    I see what you're saying. That makes a lot of sense. The direction I'm coming from is basically two strangers being forced into a marriage by circumstances. It isn't that they are opposed to it, simply that it's uncomfortable. I've been stressing the theme that the heroine is so young that it creates a marital roadblock. The husband likes her well enough but is afraid to, let's say, "spoil her innocence."
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's sooooooooooo important to note, as some others have pointed out already, that love-as-a-primary-reason-for-marriage is a very modern dynamic and the product of people having much more choice in life. The story that came to mind when I read your OP was Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (1986) Marriage for practical reasons in the timeline you are writing: the norm. Her youth as a concern for the hubby... again an affectation of 20th/21st century thinking. As @GingerCoffee already pointed out, some research on your part to pull away the layers of modern cultural narrative will evince the fact that life during the settling of and expansion across what would become the United States was profoundly different to the life you and I lead today. Profoundly.
     
  9. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    I'm going to make a little confession here and reveal that my original idea came from "Little House on the Prairie" during the chapter where Laura and her cousin Lena find out that the laundress's 12- or 13-year-old daughter had just been married. They remark that she was their age and they are saddened that she will no longer have time to play and enjoy childhood as they do. This situation has always fascinated and intrigued me. I am by no means a newbie to historical literature or circumstances; I have done TONS of reading on it since I was a young girl and feel very confident with the amount of knowledge I have on the time period. I wholly agree that the circumstances of marriage were much different and largely utilitarian. But if Laura can autobiographically describe an unusually young bride, why can't I realistically expound on that?
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Is there a particular reason she has to be so young? It seems it would remove a lot of your problems if you bumped her up to mid-teens!

    Edit: I wrote that as you were writing your latest post. Ignore me :)
     
  11. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    Thank you for your input. I am a big fan of the "Sarah" books. :)
     
  12. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    Is your profile pic of Allen Covert? I keep seeing that pic and can't get over the mental image of him in a towel! LOL
     
  13. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Haha no, it's Rik Mayall as Drop Dead Fred :D
     
  14. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    Ha. It all makes sense now.
     
  15. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    came to post something very similar. Women were a scarce resource in the west. Also families during this time period actually put a ton of effort into marrying off daughters, and were less picky about who married their youngest vs eldest. I would make her the younger daughter and a bit of a wild child who the father has been unable to find a match for. Along comes this man heading west, and the situation seems perfect. Now simply do a couple rounds of the old Oregon Trail computer game and this book write itself.
     
  16. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Arranged marriages were still pretty common back in those days. I would make the fiancé know the father of the girl somehow. Perhaps they do business together, or could potentially do business together, but the father is worried about finding a good suitor for the daughter because of a flaw (she's not attractive, she's a tomboy, she's not 'pure', etc.). The man agrees to marry the girl in a business arrangement. Maybe the dad has a piece of land or property that the fellow is interested in purchasing, and in the deal, she comes with the land.
     
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  17. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    Don't knock Oregon Trail. That game on a 5" floppy disk shaped my childhood!
     
  18. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    who's knocking, i love that game.
     
  19. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    Throw in Number Munchers and that basically defines my elementary school experience.
     
  20. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    I loosely planned to have the father owe the man something in the way of a favor. Thank you for that.
     

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