Manly Wade Wellman has no time for such foolishness, as he knows that romance makes for the best prime motivator in all of literature.
He also knows that there is far more to love than the plain jane “boy meets girl” arc. In Manly Wade Wellman’s capable typing fingers, that’s just arrow in Cupid’s motivational quiver. The “will they or won’t they?” question that Hollywood hates to answer with a driving passion makes an appearance, but only as one possible way in which the concept of romantic love can drive a story.
Consider that in Shiver in the Pines, Sarah Ann is the literal girl next door to Clay – everybody knows they will be wed. When a stranger arrives seeking help in finding a lost treasure, the couple and their respective fathers agree not because they doubt Sarah Ann and Clay, but not until Clay has a proper home for her. The desire to find lost gold is only a desire for a better life for the couple, and a chance at one heck of a nice dowry.There was a time when the Sabine Women opening of Walk Like a Mountain was common, even a the giant playing the role of a Roman soldier was motivated in part by a desire to save big Page from a flood. The shoe changes foot when Page turns out to have a susceptibility to the Florence Nightingale syndrome.
Sometimes, the romance only makes a last minute appearance as part of a happy ending, as it does in Old Devlins Was A Waiting. The just reward of a penitent prankster plays a part in ending a generations old curse that had claimed the lives of nearly every member of two sprawling families. Sometimes, the lovers who were meant to be together just need to resolve lingering familial issues before they can even recognize they were meant to be.
In Nobody Ever Goes There, the town of Trimble knows not to cross the bridge over the Catch River. What prompts Mark to go gallivanting off to a place he's been warned against his whole life? The small and slim history teacher with the blonde hair with a spice of red to it, Ruth Covell. She has more curiosity than sense, treading where even the fearsome Indians dared not go. They had already been dating a bit, but it's only after their narrow escape from the half-glimpsed shaped across the river - that shared experience of surviving danger - that they acknowledge how perfectly suited for each other they are.
Romance is one of the oldest motivations around, and yet these days all too many storytellers leave that cupid's arrow out of their quiver. Thank God we still have the example of writers like Manly Wade Wellman to show us how easy and natural it can be to use romance in even the darkest stories.