As many writers know, romance is a commonly explored theme in the world of short stories, novels, and poetry. Because this is the case, conventional and/or simple representations of romance are not likely to intrigue readers in search of fresh narratives about an age-old motif. For this reason, writers who want to engage their audiences should take the time to develop thoughtful, inventive narratives about the subject.
Last year, I found myself perpetually irritated when the subject of romance came up in my mental life. My irritation was not necessarily rooted in anxiety or anger about the concept of romantic relationships, but rather boredom and frustration with seeing a lot of trite metaphors used to discuss the matter. Yet because I could not avoid the subject of romance given the fact that it saturates our culture, I found myself writing a poem about a young man who ended one relationship in order to pursue another. Entitled “(thoughts after finding) greener grass,” it reads thus:
The other girl
just lives next door.
Here, I tried to move beyond the world of trite metaphors and conventional plots to offer readers a brief yet thorough display of the subject’s thought processes about choosing a lover. In this case, my use of an academic word such as “ubiquitous” is designed to stand out against a background of normative language. In addition to creating textual contrast by including simple and complex words, I attempted to make the reason that the subject left one relationship and entered another uniquely complicated. In essence, the speaker chooses Anna because she possesses a universal quality that his former lover lacks. Unlike Anna, his old girlfriend is a narrow-minded and limited thinker. This fact is conveyed through my describing her as the girl “next door,” a geographically bound physical locality which underscores her limited mode of being and knowing.
As an undergraduate English major, I found myself constantly exposed to the works of William Shakespeare. Thus when I think of narratives that discuss romance in a clever or ingenious way, I find my mind wandering to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. Here, Shakespeare employs love and nature as themes through which he discusses his passion for another. While the two themes discussed within the sonnet are common, Shakespeare’s way of weaving them together to create a unique representation of romance is ingenious. While several of the sonnet’s lines contain particularly powerful prose, the first four stand out in my own psyche:
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Here, the speaker states that his lover is more lovely than a summer’s day. To defend this claim, he argues that summer is a fleeting season with “all too short a date.” In defining summer thus, the speaker argues that his lover’s loveliness is intrinsically connected to the fact that it is eternal rather than possessing the mutability of a shifting season. Herein lies the sort of unique and unconventional representation of romance that transcends the world of trite metaphors and banal plot developments that leave a reader thinking that she has already read the story after scanning the first several lines.
As indicated earlier, conventional narratives about romance are not likely to catch the attention of readers in search of new representations of this age-old theme. And that is why I encourage writers to use unusual language and fresh analogies when exploring this motif. Good luck!
Jocelyn Crawley holds B.A. degrees in English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Dead Beats, Four and Twenty, and Haggard and Halloo. Other stories are forthcoming in Faces of Feminism, The Idiom, Thrice Fiction and Calliope.
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