1. KatieValino
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    KatieValino Member

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    Love Interest Issues

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by KatieValino, Feb 25, 2014.

    I am wondering how you guys manage to portray genuine love between characters without it coming off as something from a Disney film and thus inducing slight vomiting from your readers.

    I am always hyper aware of the "twilight zone", as in making it too much of, "ermagherd he is so handsome and I love him so much I would die for him and I want his babies and marriage and will love him forever and ever." Etc.

    I am not going to avoid relationships between characters, but I am looking for some interesting ideas on how you guys manage this minefield. I know I could very well base it off of real life but all the relationships I see are either disney styled or the people hate each other.....
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The answer is in the question. Real love isn't perfect. It's enduring pain and hardship and sacrifice for and with someone else. It's getting angry on their behalf, and maybe at them as well. It's making two individual gears mesh together with as little friction as possible, but with some friction nonetheless because humans are like that. It's embracing the entire person, not in spite of their faults but because of them, because the faults are part of who they are. It's caring more for what's best for the other person with faith that they will do the same for you.

    Sounds tough. It is. And because people are human, they succeed or fail in an infinite variation of degrees for an infinite variety of reasons. Those, rather than the ideal, are the bases for our stories about them.

    Best of luck. You're off to a good start.
     
  3. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I make sure both characters have flaws that make them human. I'm also trying to add realistic tension. Without tension, the story's boring. (And my novel's a love story, so it's the main plot.) On the other hand, I hate conflict that can be resolved with a five minute conversation, but takes up most of the book. So, my answer to the question is to not make the characters perfect and give them realistic tension. And the tension doesn't have to be between the two. Bickering can get old.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Showing love isn't all pronouncements of undying affection and bouquets of roses and kissing every time the characters see each other. It's things like being at the drug store and seeing that they have dark chocolate peanut butter cups, which are hard to find and the person's love interest loves them, so they buy a couple packs. It's wanting to tell the other person any good news (or gossip) before anyone else. And thinking about how any decision would affect him/her. It's knowing how the other person is going to react to something and smiling even if you know the reaction is not going to be so good.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess it depends on which genre you write. If you want to avoid the clichés that most romance novels are full of, be careful with the dialogue and the inner monologue. I find the characters actions more effective to show true love/feelings rather than long declarations of love and romantic situations. Maybe two characters sharing a special moment in a really not-romantic place, and with something else than the standard romantic ingredients... Instead of purple prose, make your characters say something that show their feelings without them saying it explicitly. Like, sacrificing something for the other one without explainations. Characters doesn't need to be aware of the romantic feeling between them, as long as the readers are. I think this is a kind of situation where show, don't tell comes handy. But then, these are just my thoughts.
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Good suggestions, these, but I would also suggest that it's a good idea to focus on actions that don't involve direct expressions of love, but rather show it through actions. She begs him to quit the high-salary-and bonus job because it's destroying his health, and suggests all the ways they can save so it will work. She gets fired from her job and he knows she was in the wrong but he helps her organize her job search, always being supportive.

    Her father, in a nursing home with dementia, says incredibly hurtful things and she refuses to see him over Christmas, so he buys the old coot a present and stops in to see him, telling him she's got the flu; a few weeks later, when she's cooled down and realized it was the dementia talking and starts to feel guilty, he talks her into going and pretending nothing ever happened, and when they do, Dad raves about the gift.

    He has a major quarrel with his mother; she knows he's wrong, so she finds one or two things that she can honestly agree with. When he's calmed down, she begins to mention where he wasn't wrong, but might have been a little weak on being right and finally convinces him to apologize, even though he might have been at least partly right.

    Suggestion: read O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi."
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I watched a very sad film once, forget its name though. It's about a married couple in their 60s or 70s - either way, both have a crown of white hair and are mature in years. It all started with one night over dinner, when his wife picked up a bottle of red mid-conversation and then suddenly, blank. She frowned at the bottle in her hand and asked, "What did I want to do with this?"

    So the story goes. A while later Julie, I believe was her name, put a couple of documents on the table in front of her husband and said, "I need you to sign this." It was for a care home, for herself. Her husband refused and she insisted, because terrified though she was, she didn't want to burden her husband, because her condition was only going to get worse - she was suffering from Alzheimer's. Once she was in the home, the carers inform the husband that he was not allowed to visit for one month, in order for the partner to settle. A month later, he returned to a wife who no longer recognised him. He watched another male patient befriend his wife, watched his wife grow protective of her new friend and even prioritising him - because the new friend didn't like it when Julie's attention was on her actual husband, and would get upset, and Julie didn't always enjoy seeing her husband because his presence confused her deeply.

    Yet, he visited her everyday.

    He wasn't perfect either. In between, he had an affair with another woman - a woman whose loved one also lives in the same home and no longer remembers her. The relationship was affectionate - it wasn't "just sex", it was companionship that they reached out for in their desperate loneliness.

    So, IMO, that illustrates love rather well. Two falling, failing people who somehow clings onto one another, even when they make hurtful, deeply hurtful mistakes and yet they would rather forgive than to lose each other. Forgiveness. That's the key to love, really. As the Bible says, love keeps no record of wrongs.

    Personally I'd say, look at your own relationships - the good ones, the ones where you feel loved, amongst family or friends or whoever else. Are those relationships perfect? Have you ever been hurt within those relationships? Why have you forgiven and clung on? That's love, and it's much more amazing than Disney. Love that has not stood the test of time has not ripened yet. Think of it like wine. The more love ages, the sweeter it is, and all the more precious, because it's proven its worth - it's proven its sincerity and proven true.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The examples you give remind me of my mum, and also of our current situation with my husband! He's in a very stressful job with extremely inconsiderate bosses, and I've been begging him to update his CV and start applying for other jobs - he's lacking sleep and can't concentrate when he wants to pray, and he's always on the verge of getting ill these days.

    The argument thing reminds me of my mum. She's a very proud woman with very strong opinions, and yet as we've grown up, more and more she holds her tongue, even though she's our mother and deserves more respect from us. She said she'd rather keep a good relationship with us and make us feel welcomed than to be right.

    Thinking of my mum - I'd say also love is when mum gets up at 6am to nurse her grandson so that my sister and her husband can get an extra hour of sleep. Love is when my mum cries out in her nightmares and dad bolts upright, rushes to her side and shakes her awake, and then cradles her while she sobs. Love is when my mum gave up her final year of study to move to England to be with her children. Love is when mum tells dad to take that job that's 6 hours by train away from home just because it's better for my dad, even though she'd be desperately lonely, and when dad rings her everyday even though he rings absolutely nobody else and couldn't care less for a conversation. Love is when my dad comes home everyday, everyday of my entire life and still do so now, and does the housework and makes us dinner and does the dishes and then when everything's done, he comes out of the kitchen and asks my mother, myself, and anyone else in the house, "Would anyone like a cup of tea?" Love is when my husband, who'd rather stay in Prague where his family is, chooses to move with me to England, a country he doesn't even like, all because of me. Love is when I was already having sex before marriage (and I'm a Christian, from a very devoted Christian family - my parents used to host Bible studies weekly in our flat) and I was terrified of my parents finding out, and when I finally plucked up the courage to tell mum, she smiled at me and said, "I already knew. I just didn't want to pry because you have not chosen to share it with me yet," and hugged me and told me not to be afraid. (dad knew too lol)

    I suppose, to me, love is sacrifice. It doesn't force its way. And when I was small, I thought my family was the norm. I didn't know love even when it stared me in the face at the time.
     
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  9. KatieValino
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    KatieValino Member

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    These are all amazing suggestions and have given me plenty food for thought, i like your insight @Mckk with the whole family relationships being a basis too, i suppose i always differentiated familial love from romantic love, but there are similarities when it comes to the unconditional side of it.

    @EdFromNY I shall get that book and have a look through it, i am assuming it is a good example of a natural appearing love?

    @Tesoro and i appreciate your thoughts, i can actually vision a couple of places where i need to show it, not tell it so much so thank you :D

    @Renee J Thanks for that comment, i can now see where i have done some of what you have said, the flawed characters and the tension, that is probably one thing i may have done right :D and @chicagoliz i like the aspect of thinking about how they need to think about how certain actions or things will affect their special other, i will try to incorporate that into it some more.

    Thank you so much guys for the comments, i honestly feel like i am going overkill sometimes as i am such a stupidly soppy romantic in my own life xD Least now i have some novel advice (and maybe even real life advice too).
     
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  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @KatieValino - it's actually a short story.
     
  11. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    The answer is easy. Stop telling the reader anything. Make them fall in love with the character for the same reason the protagonist does. And to do that they need to see him/her exactly as the protagonist does. The reader must have the same needs and resources, the same time pressures and appreciation of the other character. They must be uncertain of if what they say will work. As Anthony Burgess put it, “A character, to be acceptable as more than a chess piece, has to be ignorant of the future, unsure about the past, and not at all sure of what he is supposed to be doing.” Your reader must be made to become the character. Only by causing them to emotionally identify with the character, and care what happens as much as if it were happening to them, will it work.

    Not your high school writing technique, certainly, but it is necessary to acquire the skills needed to do that.

    -
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think one little gimmick that works in a story is to create hyper-awareness between your two lovers.

    Yes, all the other suggestions from the other people on this thread are great, as actions which illustrate what real love can do, but to convey the sense of attraction that lovers feel, the best thing to do is create awareness between them.

    Anybody who has been in love (as opposed to loving family, etc) will remember that feeling you get when the person you love walks into a room. Suddenly they are the only thing you see. You will be aware not only of their looks, but their demeanour, how they carry themselves, whether they seem relaxed, upset, nervous, sad. You will note who they are consorting with, and maybe feel a bit jealous.

    If the room is crowded, it's that person's actions you watch. It's that person's remarks you're likely to respond to. If the feeling is mutual, the same thing will be happening for them. They will be watching you closely as well, maybe figuring out how YOU are feeling at the time. Your glass is empty, and suddenly they are there to refill it. Or somebody has backed you into a corner in a debate of some kind, and you are at a loss as to how to answer them ...and this person you love says the one thing you meant to say, or slyly gives you the information you need to trump the other debater.

    In other words, create this sense of hyper-awareness and connection. Nothing is more revealing of true love (in a romantic sense) than that. And romantic love is what I'm assuming you want to create here. This applies whether the two people have just met, or if they are already in a relationship.

    I don't know if you are familiar with the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that was aired many years ago ...the one with Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennett) and Colin Firth (Mr Darcy)? One of the most telling moments in their love story was near the end, when Elizabeth moves to the piano to protect Mr Darcy's young sister from the snide comments of other people in the room, and she deliberately catches Mr Darcy's eye. The look on his face (and hers) says it all. They are connected and communicating without words, and it's a very powerful scene.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
  13. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    take examples from your own relationships, adapt and add to book.
     

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