Characters in love

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Characters in love

Post by Elowen-Astrid on Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:02 pm

I have some questions on writing romances. I never wrote a romance before and I could really use some help and suggestions. 

Maerwynn and Oliver are slowly falling in love. The did not intend to fall in love, but it happend. Stealing glances, looking at the other when the other doesn't see it. Worrying about the other and trying to keep the other safe, wondering why they are acting like this. They both never really fell in love before because they were too cautious. Oliver couldn't trust anyone because he was a mage, but now he can. Maerwynn doesn't talk about magic with outsiders either, and the village boys she grew up with were more like family to her then a prospective partner. (Btw, research suggest that children who grew op together are less likely to be romantically attracted to each other. Even if they haven't seen each other in a long time. This as an evolutionary mechanisms to avoid incest, since children who were raised together are more likely to be genetically related). They are too shy/afraid to admit it, to themselves, to others and to each other. Sometimes the other characters drop hints, but Maerwynn and Oliver don't really know how to handle it and neither do I.
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Poetic-Jessie on Sat Apr 02, 2016 9:41 pm

Elowen-Astrid wrote:I have some questions on writing romances. I never wrote a romance before and I could really use some help and suggestions. 

Maerwynn and Oliver are slowly falling in love. The did not intend to fall in love, but it happend. Stealing glances, looking at the other when the other doesn't see it. Worrying about the other and trying to keep the other safe, wondering why they are acting like this. They both never really fell in love before because they were too cautious. Oliver couldn't trust anyone because he was a mage, but now he can. Maerwynn doesn't talk about magic with outsiders either, and the village boys she grew up with were more like family to her then a prospective partner. (Btw, research suggest that children who grew op together are less likely to be romantically attracted to each other. Even if they haven't seen each other in a long time. This as an evolutionary mechanisms to avoid incest, since children who were raised together are more likely to be genetically related). They are too shy/afraid to admit it, to themselves, to others and to each other. Sometimes the other characters drop hints, but Maerwynn and Oliver don't really know how to handle it and neither do I.

I didn't know that about the evolutionary mechanism to avoid incest, it's rather interesting.

Anyway, pretty well all of the books that I've written have a strong romance subplot. I've never really analysed how to write a romance, so I'm having difficulty breaking it into sections, but I'll try.

When I write romances, I usually focus on the dialogue. I show how their relationship develops from them being strangers to them being lovers (when they admit to their feelings for each other, the conclusion wraps up the book in the next chapter.. I'm not sure if you want them to be in a romantic relationship from the middle of the book onward... If so, maybe I'm not the best person to be answering these questions and someone else who writes the relationship after it's started (first kiss and other relationship dramas) can offer advice and answer questions).

Usually, there's something that comes between my characters. In your case, it looks like what comes between them are Oliver's trust issues and fear of being found out, and Maerwynn's (possibly) not really being used to talking about magic with strangers.  

As the characters relax and no longer fear being found out, I'm assuming they'll also open up to each other. Then the shyness comes between them, possibly because this is all new and neither of them know what to do or how to act around the other. Even when others drop hints and they possibly suspect the feelings of the other or they don't understanding whatsoever...

This is where you can write really awkward romances. If the characters are awkward around each other, then the romance will also be awkward. My first book was full of awkward romance scenes and I cringed at it. I guess I was awkward with writing romances and this came out in my writing. But when I realised that awkward romances are perfectly okay to write and that people actually enjoy reading awkward romances, I relaxed in my writing.

(I feel like I'm rambling, so I'll focus on what you've written) It sounds as if you've got the development down pat (the sneaky glances, the worry about each other, etc) but it kind of sounds like you are struggling with the resolution of the romance. This can happen from an outside influence (bad guy saying, "Oh, that's so sweet. He's in love with you. Poor fool." (think Shrek 1)) Or it can happen internally, (character realises that they have to admit their feelings for the love interest or lose them forever (That's possibly a poor example...) Character overcomes their fear of rejection from love interest/realises they're in love with them/wants to fight for them (in the case of a love triangle)/realises that not telling their love interest is just making things more awkward between them and then finally admits their feelings for them) and they live happily ever after...

Ah... I don't know if I answered your question at all... Maybe if you have more specific questions, I can give you more specific answers Smile
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Elowen-Astrid on Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:58 pm

Thank you for answering my questions Jessie. It is really helpful. If I have more specific questions I will post them here again. But for now I just am going to think about what you said. 

Here is a reference for the incest avoidance mechanism I was talking about. (And I am not too sure about the even if they haven't seen each other in a long time part any more. But I suspect that it isn't wrong)

  • Lieberman, D., Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (2003). Does morality have a biological basis? An empirical test of the factors governing moral sentiments relating to incest. The Royal Society, 270. 819-286.
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Sieglinde on Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:01 am

Romance isn't my main theme, but there will be a few. I just have one rule, no love triangles. I still have war flashbacks from the first two seasons of Legend of Korra.

My hero Idun will fall in love with Ilona. Because smol dwarf lady + human lady = adorable. They have a rather uncomplicated relationship, just blooming natrually over time. Ilona used to really get around, but no one in the team will give her shit about it.

My other important relaionship is Cordelia, a badass warrior lady, and Anastas, my poor mage with the angelic passenger on board. Needless to say, it's not an easy ride. She will be very protective of him.

Other than these I'll see if something develops. Dwarven berserker Gunnar and elf assassin Aras might have something going on, at least they fall into the "old bickering couple" dynamic pretty fast. But they are really fond of each other.
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Call Me Nefret on Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:05 am

I am a fan of the sudden realization mechanic in romances. This works especially well for more adventurous stories. The two slowly begin to feel greater feelings for each other, but they're either unaware or afraid to admit it. Then something happens and one or both of them are put in mortal danger. In that moment, one or both suddenly realizes what's important and life and admits their feelings.

I'm also a fan of the weird, sarcastic romances. Where one of them looks at the other like "This is the part where you kiss me."  

The trick to remember is that the characters aren't going to change all that much from the romance. Not for a lasting period of time, anyway. A lot of romance novels try to portray the idea of someone being saved from their inner demons by their romantic partner and it's a dangerous idea to spread. Whatever issues they had before the relationship will usually follow them into it. Although you can use the relationship as a catalyst for the person to fight their own inner demons.

I also agree on the no love triangles. They're rarely interesting to the reader and tend to paint the protagonist in a bad light. Most of the time the reader/viewer already knows who they want the MC to end up with, making all hints at romance with another person irksome.
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Sieglinde on Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:13 am

Yeah, it's so annoying when it goes "oh my, I wonder which Boring Boy the heroine chooses, the Lawful Good Snoozefest or the Slightly Myterious Bad Boy?" (It's usually the snoozefest)
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Elowen-Astrid on Sun Apr 03, 2016 5:33 am

Thank you for your insight Margaret. I think I am going to go with the sudden realisation mechanism. I think it fits my characters and the story.  

I am not very fond of love triangles as well.
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Poetic-Jessie on Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:52 am

Call Me Nefret wrote:The trick to remember is that the characters aren't going to change all that much from the romance. Not for a lasting period of time, anyway. A lot of romance novels try to portray the idea of someone being saved from their inner demons by their romantic partner and it's a dangerous idea to spread. Whatever issues they had before the relationship will usually follow them into it. Although you can use the relationship as a catalyst for the person to fight their own inner demons.

Yes, this. Even though I finish my books just after my characters get together, I never write that the main character is saved by their romantic partner. I write that the issues they had before the relationship are the issues they need to deal with while in the relationship (and if some issues disappear due to character growth, it's because that character genuinely overcame their fear/anger/issues and not because of the relationship). I'm very careful not to spread this idea that someone is somehow saved by the relationship.

(I'm just talking about romance in books in general now) There's also a trend that young adult is going through where the main characters fall in love with assholes/stalkers/abusive guys and this idolises abusive relationships. Usually the guy will tear the girl apart verbally while actually being in love with her or generally be controlling (the alpha male romances, i think they're called) but it comes in other forms too. Anyway, if ever people need to learn about healthy relationships, it's when they're young and still trying to figure all of this out. So, I make sure that my romances always have healthy relationships.

As for love triangles, they're difficult. Some would say they work, most (writers) say they don't. Hunger Games is one of my favourite books and there's a huge love triangle in there. I'm not saying they're a good idea, I'm saying that they have been used in famous books/movies. Maybe they're getting tired/old. I agree that the main character can come off as fickle and indecisive, even frustrating.

I actually tried writing one recently, just to see what happened, and my main character chose one of the two love interests immediately... That's as far as my love triangle went, not even a full scene. I just couldn't write it because my character didn't want to string two guys along, giving false hope to both of them... It just felt wrong. So, I now know more about what I will and won't include in my writing and love triangles is something I won't include.
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Call Me Nefret on Sun Apr 03, 2016 11:09 am

Poetic-Jessie wrote:

Yes, this. Even though I finish my books just after my characters get together, I never write that the main character is saved by their romantic partner. I write that the issues they had before the relationship are the issues they need to deal with while in the relationship (and if some issues disappear due to character growth, it's because that character genuinely overcame their fear/anger/issues and not because of the relationship). I'm very careful not to spread this idea that someone is somehow saved by the relationship.

(I'm just talking about romance in books in general now) There's also a trend that young adult is going through where the main characters fall in love with assholes/stalkers/abusive guys and this idolises abusive relationships. Usually the guy will tear the girl apart verbally while actually being in love with her or generally be controlling (the alpha male romances, i think they're called) but it comes in other forms too. Anyway, if ever people need to learn about healthy relationships, it's when they're young and still trying to figure all of this out. So, I make sure that my romances always have healthy relationships.

As for love triangles, they're difficult. Some would say they work, most (writers) say they don't. Hunger Games is one of my favourite books and there's a huge love triangle in there. I'm not saying they're a good idea, I'm saying that they have been used in famous books/movies. Maybe they're getting tired/old. I agree that the main character can come off as fickle and indecisive, even frustrating.

I actually tried writing one recently, just to see what happened, and my main character chose one of the two love interests immediately... That's as far as my love triangle went, not even a full scene. I just couldn't write it because my character didn't want to string two guys along, giving false hope to both of them... It just felt wrong. So, I now know more about what I will and won't include in my writing and love triangles is something I won't include.

I always get annoyed with the "I'm just a traditional man" concept in romance novels. They can insist on gender roles or being all alpha male, but it's okay because they're "just traditional". I especially hate how they'll freak out when the woman does something that puts herself in danger when he was in danger not two chapters before.

Moral of the story: romance can always spice up a plot. But people will often use romance in books to judge romance in real life, so make it healthy and realistic.
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Re: Characters in love

Post by Elowen-Astrid on Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:29 pm

I agree on relationships needing to be healthy and realistic. Young people need to have good examples. And that is what I want to provide as well. 

As for love triangles. Now I think about it more. If you want to use them I don't think you you can make them last too long. If the MC doesn't choose or is indecisive too long and the love interests know the MC is conflicted in whom to choose, the loves interests will choose for the MC. The MC can loose them both that way. Or something needs to happen to make the MC realise whom he/she wants to be with.  

Call Me Nefret wrote:I always get annoyed with the "I'm just a traditional man" concept in romance novels. They can insist on gender roles or being all alpha male, but it's okay because they're "just traditional". I especially hate how they'll freak out when the woman does something that puts herself in danger when he was in danger not two chapters before. 

I agree with you. Of course it is natural for a person to worry about his/her love interest, especially when they put themselves to danger. But I don't like it when characters are allowed to freak out when the S.O. puts him/herself in danger when the S.O. is equipped to deal with the danger. When the S.O. is not equipped to deal with the danger I think the MC/lover is allowed to freak out. It is just reckless and even suicidal behaviour without thinking about the consequences for the people around them. Even when it is a spur of the moment thing I can see other characters give them a scolding about their reckless behaviour. Love interests or not.
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