There's nothing less romantic than two people who are destined to be together

A major trope in paranormal romance — and plenty of other types of sagas — lately is the idea that two people are destined to be together, or are "bond-mates." Over at Genreville, Rose Fox does a great job of examining why this idea strays into disturbing territory, by removing free choice and turning romantic relationships into a form of imprisonment.

She writes:

[M]any paranormal romances seem to revolve around the idea of destined partners, much as fantasy epics often revolve around the idea of destined jobs or tasks.

Does anyone else find this idea really disturbing? It's like all the worst parts of arranged marriage with none of the upsides. It throws us back to a time when women were property and there was no divorce. You can't even blame your parents; Fate or Destiny or God has made the choice for you, and you don't get to argue. Initially dislike the other person? Too bad! Fate or Destiny or God has also slipped you a roofie, and you will be so compellingly attracted to your destined mate that your arousal overwhelms your very reasonable concerns.

The whole thing is very worth reading. [Genreville]

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DISCUSSION

t3knomanser-old
t3knomanser

Fate and destiny are usually techniques for lazy writing. They allow an author to create a conflict for no other reason than that they need a conflict to drive the story. This trope is so hoary that people were deconstructing it before Oedipus Rex was first performed.

Any use of fate or prophecy in a story should happen in a later draft- after all the nuts and bolts are in place, after the story has proven that it can carry itself, you can then hang some of the more fantastical elements off of it.