1. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    Would this plot send the wrong message?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Gammer, Nov 19, 2014.

    In my WIP, the basic plot is that the prince of a fictional country unintentionally sets off a major war, shattering years of peace.

    To meet this new enemy, the king allies himself with a nearby kingdom. To solidify the alliance he arranges a marriage with the princess to the king's son. The princess doesn't want to and runs away. The prince is tasked to track her down and bring her back in order to redeem himself.

    Along the way the princess falls in love and makes good friends who, as a result of the war, are killed. This prompts her to realize just how bad the war is and return in order to accept the marriage to end it.

    I'm basically going for a theme of accepting responsibility and showing that to be in power and a good ruler means that sometimes your personal desires need to take a back seat. (The prince also has to give up on his vain quest for glory along the way too).

    But for the princess I'm afraid it could be interpreted as "arrange marriages are absolute and princess must learn their place and accept it" or something like that.

    Thoughts? And if it is indeed the latter, any way to improve it?
     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think it's fine. The history of royals is rife with political marriages. It's not sending a message all marriages should be arranged.
     
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  3. J Faceless
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    J Faceless Active Member

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    As a hopeless romantic, I'd want her to find something real, not just arranged.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually really like it. I've read a book that goes the other direction, with the princess running away from an arranged marriage and lots of people dying because of it, and I was mad at how selfish the princess was. So... either have the princess find some other way to make peace, or have her get married. Letting people die b/c she wants a love-match doesn't work for me.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I'd be happier if she came back, accepted the marriage, used the resulting power that that gave her to somehow influence a permanent peace, and then fled to have her own life.

    Or she could have a child, poison her husband and take over as regent. :) But I suspect that's not how you see her.
     
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  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's fine. As long as you emphasis just how much she's sacrificing and the pain involved. But I'm not convinced it would be such a satisfying read in general if it means in the end she doesn't get together with the guy she's actually in love with and we have no idea who the foreign prince is. You'd have to establish that the political marriage is the ONE AND ONLY way to stop the war, and there can't be ANY doubt about this, and you'd have to establish a relationship between the reader and the country. Not just your characters, but the actual setting. Because otherwise the readers wouldn't think the political marriage even mattered that much, especially in a day and age when such political marriages aren't the norm.

    All in all, it could work, and I don't feel it sends a bad message. However, I feel it would be a very difficult story to write and unless you do it just right, it would be an incredibly unsatisfying read.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Somebody out there IS going to interpret it this way. But if it's the story that's in you, you can't worry about this. You can counteract some of this by making sure the princess is otherwise strong and independent, and has other (dare I say it,) feminist qualities.

    I'd probably be rooting for the prince and princess to eventually fall in love and it turns out they are a good match. Maybe in a sequel. Although that might take away a bit from your message that sometimes one has to put the society above the individual. (Or maybe not -- good things could still come even from a decision that was benefitting others more than one's self.)
     
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  8. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe the prince too wishes he could marry somebody else? If he doesn't want to go through with the arrangement any more than she does, then - even if he's more willing to do it anyway - the story shouldn't give nearly as much of the "women must accommodate men who desire them" vibe.

    @BayView So, Bella Swan basically?
     
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  9. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    I agree with those who said someone, somewhere will cry feminism and be offended by the idea, but I don't see a problem with it.

    It sounds like it will be quite a sad story but there's nothing wrong with that, if anything it sounds realistic. It shows strength and nobility that she would give everything up. Perhaps write her as initially a bit of a romantic, maybe spoiled and stubborn, but quickly maturing. It would be nice to think she finds happiness if not love.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think the trick to handling this intriguing plot premise is to make sure the prince is just as important as the princess within your story.

    This young man has unintentionally set off a war. If he's a likeable character (albeit flawed)—and I think he should be, to make this a more challenging story—then he will be feeling guilt, maybe even horror at what he's done. I think the key to making this story work is to get into HIS head just as strongly as hers. His life is also pawn to his circumstances, but unlike her, he is actually responsible for starting the war. They are both responsible for helping to end it.

    What would his marriage prospects have been if he hadn't set off this war? Would he have been subject to a dynastic marriage anyway? Most of the time, in days and places where dynastic marriages take place, the male is just as much a pawn as the female, and is allowed little—if any—choice of who his spouse is to be. The big difference is the male is allowed to play around and take lovers in addition to his wife. The female is not, because the father of her children should never be in doubt.

    However, the marriage itself isn't really a feminist issue. The princess would have been unlikely to be allowed to marry whoever she chose in any case. It's a 'royalty' issue. This could become a political story in ways you might not be looking at just now. Is blood-based inherited monarchy itself the problem? Lots of people would say yes, it is.

    Whether the two of them eventually fall in love with each other is your choice. If you do this, I wouldn't make it too easy. They don't need to hate each other, but perhaps look upon their relationship as the price they must pay for being high-born and living a life of privilege.

    It's interesting that we have a 'real' example (minus the war) in the UK. Prince Charles married somebody he didn't really love in order to fulfill his dynastic obligations. While this union produced heirs, it did not produce love. He is now married to a woman he does actually love, and their relationship is apparently very happy. Sadder but wiser? Hmmm.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014
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  11. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    If they both hate the idea of the marriage, that common ground could lead them to fall in love. Or at least become friends, making the marriage somewhat tolerable.
     
  12. ladyphilosophy
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    ladyphilosophy Member

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    I wouldn't have a problem with the princess accepting responsibility and putting her personal desires in the backseat. I think it's quite refreshing and readers would respect her for that. I also get a little sick of stories where everyone lives happily ever after and the girl gets the guy of her dreams etc etc, because that's not always realistic. Also if it's set in a different time or world readers would understand that people don't always get a say in who they marry....I like the fact that she puts up a bit of a fight and that makes it not too much of a sickly submissive princess story. Just make clear that her decision to marry is one she makes out of selflessness and not just because she's being pressured/coerced. I think it would work well :)
     
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  13. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I don't think that sounds obligatory at all - provided you write the princess as a fully-fleshed out character with her own desires, it sounds like a good story.
     
  14. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I actually really like the idea, mostly because it actually has something interesting to say and doesn't beat you over the head with the usual appallingly saccharine cliched messages such as:
    "Never give up!"
    "Love conquers all!"
    "Boo pragmatism and reason, hooray for irrational idealism!"
    "Never accept advice, always do as exactly as you want!"
    "Never settle for second best!"
    "if you have hope you can achieve anything!"
    "Don't follow your brain, your heart knows best!"
    "Following your dreams are more important than consequences!"
    "You can't just fall in love with people over time! Love is always spontaneous and can only be triggered at first sight!"

    It's also more original, since "rich girl runs away from arranged marriage and falls in love with poor man," is about as over used as they come.

    If by "wrong message" you're asking whether you'll be savaged by internet feminists, then yes, yes you will as long as the book becomes popular enough to piss people off.
    How could it be improved? You will have to make it very clear that she doesn't do it out of any sense of tradition or societal pressure, but rather by her own volition as a personal sacrifice for the good of the land. As long as you do that then there shouldn't be too many people upset by the implications.
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I'm a feminist (on the internet and everywhere else) and I don't have a problem with this plot. What is it that you think we'll object to?
     
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  16. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    Okay, that was probably wrong of me to use that terminology, am aware that these types of discussions are likely to spiral into 100 page flame wars.

    But you probably know what I mean by "internet feminists", not literally any feminists that are on the internet, but the very specific type of loud and obnoxious ones that like to spout their belief at any available opportunity. In the same way that people use the term "internet atheist" to mean over zealous atheists who turn everything into an argument about god.
     
  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, but what is it about this plot that you think violates the tenets of feminism? What would these irrational harridans be objecting to?
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Plots don't send messages. The author's writing shapes the message in the nuances.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The plot works fine. If you tailor your story to the sensibilities of everyone who might have a problem with it, you'll never get anything done.
     
  20. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with this. There are frankly too many people looking for opportunities to take offence these days.
     
  21. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I would expect some people to be offended by the mere association of submitting to an arranged marriage being a good idea, even in these circumstances. After all, you've got to admit, noble women were more or less passed around like tokens in those times, and people are quick to make the connection of depiction = endorsement.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    "Harpies" is also acceptable.
     
  23. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What are you, a man? Trying to put words in my mouth? I said Internet Feminists are Irrational Harridans and I MEANT Irrational Harridans! Don't use your privilege to mansplain my anti-feminist rhetoric to ME, my boy!

    ; )
     
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  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Heh. This post wins :)
     
  25. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's actually why I like Rush Limbaugh's word "feminazi." Limbaugh himself originally created the word as a way to insult feminists ("people who don't accept male superiority should be called nazis"), but I think that the word itself can be made more useful than that.

    Traditionalists believe that women should be inferior
    vs.
    Feminazis believe that men should be inferior
    vs.
    Feminists don't believe anybody should be inferior

    Which just goes to show that Rush Limbaugh is a Traditionalist. Extremists like to paint moderates/realists as instead being the opposite extremists, so if the world at large is still Traditionalist, then a Feminist will be made to appear as a Feminazi for daring to suggest that women should be recognized.
     

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