1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Bringing my characters together

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Tenderiser, Aug 12, 2015.

    I was unsure where to post this but it is more about driving the plot than characterisation. Actually, my characterisation is getting in the way of the plot!

    I have two main characters who need to fall in love. One of them has a very strong motivation to avoid friendships and relationships. There are many reasons for this but the strongest is that he regularly commits serious crimes for which his victims want revenge, and he's afraid they would hurt anybody he cared about in order to hurt him. I can't change this because it is central to the plot. I don't want to weaken his motivation because it creates a lot of lovely tension and conflict when they finally do become attached.

    The other character has friends, and has no reason to avoid making more, but doesn't want an intimate relationship.

    So the problem I have is how to force them together long enough for the male character to become attached to her - strongly enough to overcome his very strong motivation to not get involved with anybody. It's not such a problem the other way round because my female character can be interested in him as a friend from the start. A physical attraction is not going to be enough for him; they have to interact long enough to form a mental connection.

    I've been writing this story since January and this is the part that I just can't get right. I have changed the circumstances of their meeting so many times but I always struggle to write it, which is a sign to me that it's too contrived and my characters can't interact naturally in the situations I put them in.

    As the are both adults (23 and 28 years old) the most obvious solution is to have them meet through work. But his job is fake, a cover for his criminal activities, and the people who work directly with him have to be in on the secret. She can't know the secret. So I tried putting them both at a work-related conference (with him just maintaining his cover) but it doesn't work. It's just not realistic to get that strongly attached to someone after talking to them for, at most, a few hours during a conference.

    I think the clue is in my male character's strong drive to protect vulnerable people, which is also the reason for his crimes. If I could put them in the same place at the same time and have her be threatened and afraid, he would be forced to act to help her. But I really want to avoid the strong-man-saves-weak-woman-then-they-fall-in-love route because ugh. I don't mind if it's a really serious threat that she couldn't possibly save herself from, like somebody much bigger and stronger than her putting a gun to her head, but then there's the issue of realism again. There is no reason for someone to put a gun to her head, especially not in a public place with strangers around.

    Even if I made her strongly attracted to him from the start, she lacks the self-confidence to chase after him if he isn't showing interest, which he wouldn't.

    Does anybody have any bright ideas for throwing them together?
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  2. jaebird
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    jaebird Active Member

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    What if you put them in some sort of dangerous situation where they had to depend on one another in order to survive? Not knowing what your plot is, I'm not sure how you would want to do this, but maybe you could go with the idea of them both being at a conference and have something happen during it that forces them together and endangers both their lives. It could have something to do with one of his victims wanting revenge on him, or something like that where she gets caught in the middle. Maybe she even saves him at first. Even if neither one likes each other at all in the beginning, forcing them to depend on each other could eventually pull them together.
     
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  3. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, there is clearly some plot issues here that we don't know but for my advice we don't need to know them.

    The point of love is less of a namable reason. I mean ask people who love each other or are married. In my experience they stutter for a second on that one. Because love isn't about this one aspect of the other person. Yeah sure there might have been one aspect that started it or one aspect that they like naming but it is way less important to have that then it is to show them loving each other.

    Like think of Twilight. I am not a fan of it but I think it has a very useful comparison here. As I am not a fan I might misquote part of it. But the main male in that movie(okay I didn't read the book but I saw the movie with my girlfriend.) had such a spark which was that he was a telepath and could read minds. As such he a near instant understanding of everyone and it bored the shit out of him. Yet this girl, for whatever reason was immune. So he was curious about her. This is great set up. Yet the movie fails because we never see him learn about her. We never see him trying to figure her out. Its basically just said he loves her, there is a reason and that is it. Without developing or exploring the reason. It will fail.

    Now in your book, you have this man that normally ignored most people. You said it was for safety reasons but this can't be it alone? Think of how he ignores a standard person. Why does he? Does he really think. "If I like this person I put them in danger!" or does he think. "You are so boring." I mean if he has a life of crime maybe he thinks standard people are boring? There has to be something about her that he likes. And something about him she likes. Maybe they have like a fantastic night and as such he tries to hide from her and she becomes curious and searches and the more she pushes the harder it is for him to resist? Funny enough I have seen that done before. lol.

    I got two more examples for you of times I think it was done right. As food for thought.

    One was a comic book. See in the comic book the guy was very reserved. Kept to himself. This because as a child he discovered shocking news about his parents. So he pushed himself away from them and it became a habit to be away. To never reveal ones true self. Then he met her. She couldn't keep her mouth shut. She didn't know how to hide her true self. He was so envious of how easy it was for her. They keep meeting. So he kept seeing her and he kept getting closer and closer to her. The fact that when he admits it the shift is fast makes sense. The point of his character is that he kept it hidden for a long time. In the reverse she was curious about him because she could never figure him out. He would tease her or crack jokes at her and it annoyed her but then in a serious moment he would drop everything to help her. She came to enjoy his sense of humor because she knew without a doubt when she needed him, he would not only be serious but right there. And that sense of that they both loved each other is way more important than the original reason or gimmick. Not saying don't use a gimmick. Just saying don't expect the gimmick to do half the work.


    Okay last one. I quote it because in theory I should hate it but I loved it. A book, which the name I forget. About a vampire- rotten luck I had. I hate vampires. In the book the main girl says "She doesn't know why she loved him" and I don't either. It was part of a serious but I never read book 2 or past. I don't know why the guy loved her either. And love without any defined reason or chemistry annoys me. Which is sort of exactly what it did. She basically got weak in the knees at his sight. She didn't know much about him. This all sounds horrible right? Yet her one line. It completely redeems it or is the start of a possible redemption. Why? Because us as humans don't always know. Have you ever had a moment when you are eating food and you say "I like this" and someone says "why" and you have no answer? If not imagine that. Surely there is a food you like that you couldn't explain to me? The fact that the character was concerned with why she was seemly weak in the knees for this guy made sense to me. By addressing it. I had much less problems with it. Though like Twilight, this is just an original hook, it would still need to expand on that later for it to make sense.

    Hope it helps
     
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  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Thank you both very much. :)

    @jaebird - I have written a few versions of the 'she gets caught up in someone taking revenge on him and he feels compelled to save her and then make amends for it' but it was a little too much, too early in the book. They're meeting in Chapter 4 and the reader doesn't yet know about his past or the fact that he is a criminal. If suddenly somebody is attacking him it's a bit far-fetched, and I either have to reveal more than I want to or just let the reader think someone randomly tried to kill him. But I do think you're right that I need to make them depend on each other, at least for a short time, to get over the initial barriers. Perhaps just less extreme, like she accidentally hurts herself and he has to make sure she's okay.

    @GuardianWynn - Love your examples, thank you, and I completely agree that love doesn't always have an obvious reason. People can look totally unsuited on paper but when they get together they have an amazing chemistry that makes you go "oh, okay, I see they're in love". I think my characters have the right chemistry, enough to make the man get over his issues, it's just getting them to spend long enough together that the chemistry becomes obvious. There is no logical reason why she should be the first woman to override his issues - it just happens, like love does.

    You're right that his reasons are much more complex than just "everyone around me is in danger". Although he does his crimes for a noble reason they still make him feel guilty, and he also carries a lot of guilt for forcing distance between himself and his sisters, who he loves, because he doesn't want them to get caught up in his crimes. He wouldn't admit it, but deep down he doesn't like himself very much and wouldn't want someone to get involved with him. He knows they would end up hurt, one way or another.

    He avoids situations where he meets people, so he doesn't usually have to work to ignore anyone. He wouldn't be at a club looking for a one night stand, or hanging out at a coffee shop where she might also happen to be. He goes to work, he goes home alone, he goes to work again. If he does meet someone incidentally (someone spoke to him in a shop queue, whatever) he would be polite but it wouldn't occur to him to try and get to know the person. If they showed an interest in seeing him again he would politely turn them down (maybe a lie about being in a relationship, or just being in the area for a few days) and that would be that.

    Someone VERY persistent might indeed break through his barriers if they had the right chemistry, but my female character lacks the self-confidence to be like that until they have already fallen in love. She is also not going to be in a club looking for a hook-up, or looking at a man she just met and thinking "hmm, I fancy him, let's see if he wants a date".
     
  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL. This reminds me of a story. Your earlier post also reminded me of it.

    It is a comic book named "Miki Falls" by Mark Crilley it is not very long. While it isn't perfect I simple love it. Enough were I bought it and re-read it every once in a while. The male MC in there is well very similar to what you described. With the exception he isn't a criminal. Or at least not a criminal in the way yours is I think.

    If you have time or the ability. I recommend checking it out. The first book alone would clue you into what I am talking about. Remember. Comic book. So it should only take like an hour to read the first one.
     
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I will do that, thank you!

    What kind of a criminal do you think he is, just out of interest? :D
     
  7. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, you didn't give context. So I don't really know. Except I think he would be arrested by the police. lol. I suspect killer but I don't really have more of a guess than that.
     

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