|Czech translation: I love the play on|
|Loretta Chase's name.|
This problem is interesting. It is more interesting if the characters take responsibility for their changes. Sometimes, the characters regret their own mutability. Sometimes, they feel a sense of inevitability. Whatever the case, the characters are always more interesting if they desire to go forward rather than wallow in the past--we can't reclaim the past; maybe, we can remake the future.
A variation on this problem is when a character realizes that the type he or she always fell for in the past is not, in fact, the best type for that character to grow old with. Emma tackles this variation as does Little Women.
Another variation is for a character to realize that his or her memory of the past no longer applies. In Loretta Chase's Last Night's Scandal, Peregrine is reluctant to become reacquainted with his high-spirited childhood friend, Olivia, because he remembers all the trouble she got him into when they were younger. He wants a "steady" partner. He learns that, well, yes, she will still get him into trouble, but she'll also get him out of it. She isn't "flighty" or even particularly high-maintenance in the way that he remembered. She is reliable and efficient and won't let him down.
Common romance problem: I don't think this relationship will last.
Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. By itself, the yes/no possibility is less like Schrodinger's cat and more like a T/F question. Once it is over, it is over. Besides, if one is watching particularly irritating television, it's more or less a given that the relationship won't last (see Ross & Rachel).
|Jane Eyre at a crossroads.|
Jane Eyre is sometimes seen as dated because Jane runs away from Rochester rather than agreeing to live in sin with him. I have never understood this objection. I think the text makes clear than even before the crazy-wife-in-the-attic comes to light, Jane is worried that she is being overwhelmed by Rochester's personality. It isn't that he is domineering, per se. It is rather that his energetic, extroverted-to-the-max personality is overloading her circuits. She runs because she can't make a decision with Rochester hovering over her saying, "Pleeeeease stay. Please? Pretty please!!!!" She returns when she realizes that she has enough self-gumption not to disappear into the shadow of her partner's personality (and well, yes, also after events have toned him down just a bit).
Common problem: "My partner cannot be trusted based on past behavior."
This problem has almost no self-life. Either the partner can be trusted or not. End of story. (And solving the problem based on luuuvv makes the characters look stupid. If their sense of personal worth is so damaged that they won't take previous bad behaviors as a warning, they aren't worth investing in as characters.)
Common problem: "How do I prevent an external bad thing from happening to me and my partner?"
|Clark/Superman is dismayed when he realizes that|
|even Lois has given in to the Superman hype.|
Example: Superman stories often stumble because they rest almost exclusively on external hurdles. In Lois & Clark, however, Clark struggles with internal conflicts regarding his personal identity. In a Season 2 episode, he worries that if "Clark" dies, leaving only Superman, he--Clark--will no longer have the same relationship with his co-workers. This legitimate worry dovetails with Clark's ongoing uncertainty of what constitutes his "real" self. The death of his human self isn't simply an external problem; it has an internal component that is tied to the character's personal philosophy: Who am I?
Summing up: internal issues such as confusion or disillusionment or doubt help any arc. But states of mind are often not enough to keep an arc going. Writers do much better if the state of mind goes back to a fundamental need or want--the character's place in the world (identity), not merely the character's temporary feelings.