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Pat's Premises: Popular Plots, Conflicts and Elements in Romance Novels

© Patricia Ryan, 1997

Mythic or Fairy Tale Elements

  • Kidnapping (Persephone)
  • Taming of the savage male (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Transformation (Pygmalion)
  • Rags to Riches (Cinderella)
  • Awakening, emotional rebirth (Sleeping Beauty)

Enforced Intimacy

  • Marriage of convenience
  • Hero as protector
  • Arranged or forced marriage
  • Pretend marriage or relationship
  • Stranded together on an island
  • Snowbound
  • Matchmaker contrives to throw lovers together
  • Must share office or home

Love Conquers All

  • The healing power of love
  • Redemption through love

One Lover Rehabilitates or Cures the Other

  • Amnesia
  • Physical disabilities
  • Emotional problems
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental illness
  • Alcoholism

Emotional Baggage or Internal Forces Keep Lovers Apart

  • Inability to trust, especially opposite sex
  • Fear of commitment
  • "I am a rock;" emotional detachment
  • Some past incident, e.g., abuse, has left emotional scars
  • Lover blames other for some hurt to self or loved one
  • Lover harbors a secret that threatens love
  • Lover must find self or solve problem before committing
  • One lover has lied to other about something important
  • Lover can't forgive other for some flaw
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Sense of unworthiness
  • Feeling that one doesn't belong or fit

The Lovers' Differences Keep Them Apart

  • Lovers from different social, religious or ethnic worlds
  • A difference of opinion on critical matter
  • Bad boy, good girl; or vice versa
  • Lovers have opposing loyalties
  • Lovers are business competitors
  • Lovers personalities are too different
  • A large age difference
  • Unrequited love

The Lovers' Similarities Keep Them Apart

  • Lovers engage in a battle of wills
  • Lovers share goal, but only once can achieve it

Babies and Children

  • Secret baby
  • Arranged pregnancy
  • Accidental pregnancy
  • Reunited with child given up for adoption
  • Child play matchmaker or otherwise brings lovers together
  • Child lost or threatened
  • Heroine plays nanny

Comedy of Errors

  • Heroine pretends to be male
  • Mistaken identity
  • Misunderstandings
  • Masquerade
  • Twins

Evolving Relationships

  • Platonic friends fall in love
  • Ex-sweethearts are reunited
  • Divorced spouses rediscover their love

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