1. AngelOfHarlem
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    AngelOfHarlem New Member

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    Developing Believable and Loving Relationships

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by AngelOfHarlem, Mar 24, 2011.

    I've always had difficulty with this process.

    I'm good at the "random hookups" and the "one-night stand" stuff in my writing, but I have had trouble being able to accurately detail a loving, committed relationship.

    What kind of dialogue should I use? How often do the characters need to say "I Love You"? What specific things should I include when describing their relationships and what should I include in scenes when they are together, whether alone or with other people?

    Any help and advice is greatly appreciated, as always.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    A lot depends on the individual - I have a challenge in my work in progress where I have my MC involved with three men at once each is very different.

    Give me a scenario and I will show you how I would write it?

    I have some love story type pieces around the site as well.
     
  3. AngelOfHarlem
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    AngelOfHarlem New Member

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    Well, my MC is engaged to a woman whom he really loves very much. But he accidentally, and drunkenly, gets involved with another woman after he and his then girlfriend (prior to the proposal) get in a big fight.

    The MC ends up getting this other woman pregnant, but he does not know about it until after he proposes.

    He loves his fiancee more than anything, but he also feels this special bond to this other woman because he is the father of her unborn child.

    That's the basis of the relationship within the story....I don't know...do you want like a specific scenario or what?
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK so I'll call the woman Callie and the man Jack.

    Jack is sitting at the bar waiting for Callie. 'Barman, can i have a scotch and a white wine please.' He turns and smiles as she walks into the bar. He stands up and let's her kiss his cheek. 'I got you a drink.'

    Callie puts her bag on the bar and sits on the stool next to Jack. She faces him and grimaces, 'How was your day love? I'm tired and sore.'

    'Shall we finish this drink and head off home.' A smile plays round his lips.

    Callie takes his hand and traces it with her fingers. 'Sounds good to me. Night in front of the telly. You know we need to put some more thought into the wedding I really would like to set a date.'

    Jack quietly nods and looks down swirling his scotch.
     
  5. AngelOfHarlem
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    AngelOfHarlem New Member

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    Ooh okay. I see.

    I like how you added some traces of a physical element into their conversation. I will try that and see how it goes.
     
  6. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Look around you to the couples you see in every day life. Observe, analyse and incorporate you observings into your own writing.
     
  7. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    It's easy enough to ask, but there's a lot of different ways relationships develop.

    Before I begin, the phrase "I love you" should be used as sparingly as possible. I'll be happy to explain why in another post if I have to, though I like to think that I don't.

    Off the top of my head, here's a few ultra-stereotyped love scenarios.

    1 - Victim of circumstance.
    Like the parents in Fiddler on the Roof, some people just get stuck with each other. They don't hate each other or like each other, they just put up with each other and get on with whatever common goal that they have. Over time they learn to gain comfort from the other person's presence and form a bond of trust. This kind of love takes the longest to form but is usually the strongest and even happens as a result of the following types because unlike either of the other two, it requires neither "putting up" with the other person's flaws nor a loving river of loving love.

    Characterised by general apathy followed by empathy regarding matters of common interest followed by dialogue followed by trust. Minimal, even zero chemistry actually required which is why it endures even in old age.

    2 - Unlikely couples.
    Characters thrown together in exceptional circumstances who don't get along but must cooperate to succeed/survive. They bounce playful insults off of each other, usually betraying the other persons trust occasionally in minor (sometimes major) ways before realising (during the plot's climax) that they can't do without the other person. Highly dependent on both characters having outgoing personalities and usually never develops smoothly into VoC love in a single story because of its volatile nature (eg. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Han Solo x Princess Leia)

    Characterised by contrast of personality or values that collide in incidental ways followed by grudging respect followed by stubborn attraction followed by open attraction. Long term plots usually involve an argument because of personality differences, a conflict that will continue unless one character conforms to the other.

    3 - Loving rivers of loving love
    The most two-dimensional and unrealistic kinds of attraction: Attraction that occurs "Because the author says so". There's something special about them, they can sense something, they've got an aura, it was destiny - these are the kinds of stupid excuses writers use to put together characters when they don't know how to demonstrate any kind of chemistry. Examples include Star Wars episodes 1-3 (look up RedLetterMedia's reviews, because I don't have time to make a four-hour rant) and that age-old favourite, Twilight (Ed wants to eat Bella like a peach on a high branch, Jacob wants her to piss off Ed and Bella just wants to bump uglies because she's a self-insert boy-magnet).

    Characterised by attraction without cause and use of the word "Love" at first sight, second sight, every sight after that and in between as well. Lots of angst when the person's not around also works a treat (Where's Poochie?)

    There are literally hundreds of others but now I'm in a foul mood at George Lucas and Stephanie Meyer. I might come back later, I guess.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm inclined to think that it starts with the characters, and then you add the relationship. So (and I keep giving this advice; I wonder if it works? :)) you might want to write some pre-story scenes for the characters, maybe how they met, or an ordinary day for them, or something of the sort, to get your mind around what they're like with each other before things turn chaotic.

    I keep writing dialogue exercises for a male and female pair, platonic friends Henry and Emily, and only after I'd written a few did I realize that they're most likely in love and just don't know it yet. They never flirt (well, unless you count that time she straightened his tie and talked about Victoria's Secret aliens), but they're old, old friends. They know each other well enough to guess one another's thoughts, they're comfortable in one another's company, they never run out of conversation, they're essentially "home" when they're with each other.

    It's not an altogether healthy, even friendship--he's protective of her and will help her in anything without even considering why he should bother, while she's inclined to depend on that help, and not think to help him in turn. It's just one quick jump for him to realize how much he values her, while she'd have to lose him to realize how much she values him.

    I'm rambling on, but I guess my point is that I realized all this by writing scenes for these two, rather than by planning their relationship ahead of time. You already know that you want your characters to end up as a romantic pair, but you could start out with them platonic and write for a while, to see exactly how that romance happens.

    (I suddenly find myself thinking of the movie _The Philadelphia Story_ as an interesting example of three--actually, I guess four?--very different relationships.)

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    Read a lot of romance novels. Good ones, not trashy ones. They always give me a basic idea of how to handle the relatinship angle.
     
  10. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    ... Always seem unlikely to me. Can you even picture Han Solo and Leia after the ending of ROTJ? The only thing they had between them was friction. Once that dissipates, they have absolutely nothing together. I predicted their relationship to last for about 20 seconds after the credits rolled.

    These kind of romances were a hallmark of 80's movies. After all, they had to cramp a romance into a fast-moving story without stealing screentime from the actual plot. Oh, and then it adds free conflict. Too bad conflict isn't the same as chemistry.
     
  11. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    Actually, if any of the follow-up novels and comics are to believed, Han and Leia will be instrumental in rebuilding the former Republic, which will require some distance. Everytime they comeback together it will be like a honey moon all over again.

    That would explain the twins...
     
  12. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's not the movies. I'm talking about the impression you're left with once the actors are off the screen.
     
  13. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Another good way to develop a relationship, fictional or in real life, is to have the characters share some kind of interest, or hobby, or similar background. That way, they actually have something to do after all that passion has died down. Maybe they both enjoy gardening, or playing chess, or discussing philosophy, or both are war veterans or come from third world countries or something.

    It won't solve everything, but at least it will give them something to do or to talk about and a reason to still stay with each other.

    The romances in my stories tend to be between two close friends; although it seems like an easy way to avoid the initial parts of a developing relationship (getting to know each other slowly, that kind of thing), it does present itself with its own set of issues to tackle, I think, such as where to draw the line between friendship and romance (or if it should be drawn at all). For me, though, it does help me get straight into their witty banter.



    On a separate note, does anyone have any advice for developing polygamous relationships? In one of my stories, the main male character will have anywhere from 2-4 wives (I haven't finalized the plot yet, so I'm not sure about it at this point), and I'm trying to figure out how to develop a relatively stable harem without having it become either some adolescent fantasy or a complete warzone between the co-wives trying to strangle each other (or the husband). I figured that having just 2 wives wouldn't be too hard, as one girl would end up being more like a surrogate daughter to the other girl and the guy, but still, regardless, I feel something like this will be very risque if handled improperly.
     

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