Universal Plots: the star-crossed lovers

Last week I talked about how most stories are new versions of old stories. Revisiting one of these universal plots is a good way of getting an idea for a new story. Today I’d like to talk about one of the most well-loved romance plots, the star-crossed lovers.

Two lovers from different worlds must overcome fierce obstacles in order to be together.

For example:

The play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is probably the most famous star-crossed lovers plot. Romeo and Juliet’s feuding families mean the lovers marry in secret then — in order to escape an arranged marriage — Juliet fakes her own death and Romeo not realising she still lives kills himself. When Juliet wakes to find him dead she joins him the only way she can, by also killing herself. While Romeo and Juliet  is a tragedy other star-crossed lovers stories have happier endings.

The Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer is a star-crossed lovers story that has a happier conclusion to Romeo and Juliet’s. Across the story arc of the series, the human Bella and the vampire Edward must overcome the obstacles of their very different backgrounds, the jealous love of Edward’s werewolf rival, Jacob, and the evil vampires who are out to get them in order to be together. (Currently they are together but who knows what will happen as the series continues.)

You have probably read many other star-crossed lovers stories. If you enjoy that genre of story, why not borrow the star-crossed lovers plot when you are looking for story ideas. You don’t have to write an entire play or novel, you could write a single scene from a play or a short story.

For those of you who have the dreaded ‘never-ending narrative syndrome’ perhaps next time I could look at some ideas on how to write shorter pieces. I don’t think your teachers are expecting a multi-book saga, just 500 words!

About Carol Jones

Carol Jones is the author of 'The Concubine's Child', set in 1930s Malaya and The Boy With Blue Trousers set in 1850s China and Australia. Born in Brisbane, Australia, she taught English and Drama at secondary schools before working as an editor of children's magazines. She is also the author of several young adult novels as well as children's non-fiction.
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2 Responses to Universal Plots: the star-crossed lovers

  1. Darcy says:

    Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are a couple of other star-crossed lovers stories. I like those 19th-century Gothic novels with the crumbling houses on the moors and the lovers who are kept apart by fate. We need more stories like that.

    • caroljones says:

      Another best-selling contemporary star-crossed lovers story for young adults that you might like to read is ‘Fallen’ by Lauren Kate. Lots of angels and demons set in a reform school in modern America.

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