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  1. Marthix2016

    Marthix2016 Banned

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    Why are Getting Married + Having Kids always "Happily Ever After"?!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Marthix2016, Feb 29, 2020.

    I don't get it. I have read too many stories where the male or female protagonist get married and then have kids after dealing with whatever darkness their story involves. It's so cliche and unoriginal. It's not everyone's version of "Happily Ever After". There actually are some men and women who are very happy being Single and who are very happy living a childfree (no kids) life. I know culture and society drills us on all this stuff and makes it seem like being Single and without kids is a bad thing. But Single people and childfree people (who can be one-in-the-same) deserve a voice in books and TV shows. I feel they are the demographic that takes the most shit out of anybody. I'm a Single childfree person....more happy than ever with the life that I have...I get criticized all the time for my lifestyle because it's not "the norm". I never want children nor do I want to get married ever. I feel like my demographic is underrepresented in media and I think people would appreciate a story with characters akin to my own. Thoughts?
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I think you need to widen your reading. You bring this topic up in differing ways with notable regularity, and in truth it answers to a more fundamental paradigm than just the actual trope itself. The Fantasy readers are constantly bringing up versions of this complaint with respect to the kinds of props and tropes they tire of encountering over and over again in The Land of the Five Races (generic High Fantasy setting).

    But, if you keep grabbing books with a dwarf on the cover, you're gonna' get dwarves. Extrapolate that literal example into its metaphorical/abstract end outcome.

    Read other books that have different covers than the ones you read. Go to different shelves than the ones you usually peruse. I very rarely run into this particular trope that troubles you so. Marriages and subsequent children just don't occur in the genres I read. You are encountering sampling error.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    Marriage is symbolic of happy love and family, which reflects traditional / classical values. These values are needed when a society or a civilization is small and growing. It's necessary to form stable groups (like families) and crank out children so the society can grow. It's also necessary at such times for males to be strong and aggressive, and females to raise children and be the counterpoint to the males, in order for the society to include a good balance of traits. But when a society reaches maximum growth and hits a point of either overpopulation or not enough resources (ok, I guess they're the same thing in a way) it will switch into a decadent phase (a phase of societal decay) in which that's no longer a priority, but many still cherish the traditional values. It's scary to realize your society has topped the rise and is going down the other side toward oblivion.

    I hate to keep bringing up these rat experiments, but they do perfectly illustrate certain situations. Actually this time I think it was mice (I'll try to find a link in a moment). The experiment went like this: researchers constructed a large round pit with ledges and ladders and little mouse-holes along the ledges, similar to an apartment building. Inside the mouse-holes were spaces big enough for a little family (or whatever groupings they have) to live comfortably. They supplied plenty of food and water and stocked the enclosure with a few mice and just let nature run its course. The society grew and flourished up until the point where there were no more vacant mouse apartments left, when suddenly there was a big shift. I'm trying to remember this, but as I recall they all or almost all stopped mating and many of them started eating the newborn mice. Many males stopped being aggressive and masculine and started behaving the way females normally would, and many females became aggressive and masculine. All of these shifts of course would stop the influx of more babies, which was the crisis threatening the society.

    This can be harsh realities to face, but as writers it does help to have a broad anthropological or biological understanding of how people and societies function.

    Ok, my internet is being evil today and I can't get other pages to load, but if you search for "mouse utopia experiment" (or maybe "mice utopia experiment") you should find lots of pages about it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
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  4. More

    More Active Member

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    Hi
    In the UK it has been estimated that about 40 % of the population over 16 are living alone . So being single may not be the majority , but it far from being unusual . I have a wide range of friends , including maried , living together and single . The living together people, and I includ MM/FF is on the increase and probably will eventually outnumber marred . The singles are ever young , separated or widowed . So I would suport your idea that an adult that has deliberately remained single , is unusual . If your being criticised by people you know , I would sugest you need new frends . As for being represented in the media . Someone who is actuly alone is not a very interesting subject , no interaction. But it has been done . Mostly variations of Robinson Caruso .
     
  5. Storysmith

    Storysmith Senior Member

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    "Happily ever after" is a response to a child's question of what happens afterwards. Outside of fantasy, we all know that, no matter how happy somebody's life, it will come to an end.

    As to why many stories do have coupling up: well, it can be difficult to find a romantic partner worth settling with, especially in stories where all kinds of things can go wrong. But there's no innate challenge to being single, because it's the default condition which we're born into. Stories are often about people striving to improve themselves, and you get some of that by looking for love. That's not to say that you can't have a character who chooses to live their life single, but it cuts out a lot of story opportunities and challenges. Of course, if you have experience of drama from a single person's clashes with society over that, then you can write about that.

    As to why the children matter, it comes down to my initial point that we all die. Having children let's us see that the characters are leaving a legacy, that the story doesn't ultimately just end with them dying. Of course, they can leave other legacies, but children can be another one on top of them.
     
  6. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    1). For most people, getting married and having kids is what is expected and what is normal. This means that the majority of writers who are trying to get published will have this as it is understood and accepted by the largest pool of potential readers. The alternate relationships (Polyamorous, Bi, Gay, Lesbian, Trans) are still very much niche markets and readers, which means that alot of the works will be either a). Self published b). Small batch/limited release or c). Boutigue type publishers. All three of these will generally have limited or no advertising/marketing so as the reader it would be up to you to do the legwork to track them down.

    2). This would also require a greater level of skill on the writers part. Compare: "After they killed the giants, saved the kingdom and were amply rewarded by a grateful King, Jack and Jill got married and started their now legendary Giant Killing business with their three children James, Jeffrey and Jessie, who still run it with their children. The End."

    To: "After they killed the giants, saved the kingdom and were amply rewarded by a grateful King, Jack and Jill decided they wanted to see other people. The End."

    It's possible to do it well, but really easy to do it badly, which makes it harder to get published(see item #1).

    3). If the reader gets emotionally invested in the couple and the book ends with 'welp, they didn't last' the reader is likely to get really annoyed and a). not read anymore of the books by that author and b). tell their friends not to either. Again, this comes down to writer skill and how hard you're willing to work to get published.
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Admin Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I was about to say that - generally in reference of Katniss

    there are lots of single childless protagonists - Sue Graftons kinsey milhone. Sara Paretsky's V I Washawki. Robert B Parker's Sunny Randall (also in regard of Robert B Parker the Jesse Stone series starts with his marriage falling to bits), Lee Child's Jack reacher, Matt Hilton's Joe Hunter (technically he's divorced). Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch (he is technically married but he spends most of the books single), his other protag Mickey Haller is divorced. John Connelly's Charlie Parker was married but his wife and daughter were murdered in book 1.

    Even in Fantasy if we look at LOTR, Bilbo's happy ever after doesn't involve meeting a nice lady hobbit... he goes off to the Grey Havens. David Gemmels Waylander has a daughter, but his wife is dead... and that is just off the top of my head
     
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  8. SoupSpoon

    SoupSpoon New Member

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    The direct answer to the question is yes I'm sure there is plenty of scope to depict your point of view.
    I also have a non-standard lifestyle that raises eyebrows in that I choose to not have a partner, I have in the past, I may in the future but right now I get a lot of odd looks when I say that I'm totally free and unattached and that's the way I like it and that's the way it's going to remain until I decide differently.
    To be honest, I don't even see that there is a question; you're the writer, you create the world and the characters you want and then you make us believe in it and them.
    What society believes to be the norm is, quite frankly, their problem! I'm sure it's correct that a large proportion of society has to obey the rules to ensure their society thrives. We don't usually write about those people though, we write about the interesting people who do things differently.
    It would be more difficult to differentiate our heroes and heroines if the bulk of the populace didn't obey the norms and give us something to contrast against.
    My current WIP has two teenage girls as heroes in a contemporary post apocalyptic world, the plot largely revolves around them showing what's left of society what it can do with it's expectations.
    Ref one of your previous , I write narrative parts in the first person as one of the female characters, I find it great fun and challenging. For context I am a straight guy and sadly getting a bit bloody old.
     
  9. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    Relatively few of the books I read end this way. What genre are you reading? Because if you're reading romance, chances are that a vast majority of romance novels will end this way. If you're reading spy thrillers, chances are that the main character will engage in espionage.
     
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  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Admin Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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