1. Mikmaxs
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    Mikmaxs Active Member

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    Relationship Troubles and Flirting

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Mikmaxs, May 20, 2016.

    So, I'm having two similar but antithetical problems with some of my characters.
    With two of them, I need to make it clear that they're romantically attracted to one another. They're not dating, at least in part because they're both kidnapped slaves at the moment, (That rather puts a damper on their love live,) but they like each other. Problem is, I'm terrible at flirting in real life, and I don't know how to make it genuine and natural, and not seem forced or cheesy.

    My other problem, with two other characters, is that from the few friends I've shown it too, several think that they're going to end up as an item. One is a fourteen year old girl and the other is a thirty year old man, and I have absolutely no intentions of them ever, ever ending up together. I don't know how to make this abundantly clear to the audience, though, without just slapping them in the face with an 'It ain't gonna happen, guys!'
     
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  2. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    I dunno how to quite explain the first, but I'll give it my best shot. They have to know each other, have them talk, have them talk often. Put touches of warmth in when appropriate, and have them confide in each other, be sure they have the other's back. Trust oft comes before love.

    For the second, I would just say it blatantly. Have someone ask the 14 year old about it, and she would reply: "Ick no, he's old."
     
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  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Interesting that the two concerns would go hand-in-hand in the same piece. Not having read it, I don't know for sure, but I suspect that part of the problem may be that you think you need a heavier touch on describing relationships than you actually do. In the first instance, you are correct when you point out that flirting would be incongruous between kidnapped slaves. But that doesn't mean that attraction doesn't occur. I would suggest looking for ways in which they look out for one another, support one another. If one is beaten, the other grieves. Things like that.

    For the second, I'm not sure it's really a problem. As readers are getting to know your characters, they will certainly speculate as to where relationships are going. Making too much of an effort to head off speculation in a particular direction could result in "spoonfeeding" the reader, which you want to avoid. If either character is shown reflecting on the other, you can do it in a way that clearly is not romantic (e.g. she looks up to him as a mentor, he regards her as a protégé). He can think of her as being like a daughter or niece; she can think of him as being like her father or uncle. As with the first situation, you want to show a light touch.

    Good luck.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    To me I always thought that flirting is just an extension of friendship - showing an interest, care, humor, compliments. Which is why in every man/woman situation on television there can be a sexual tension whether it's there or not.
    Jealousy could also become a way to show that it's not just a friendship. But I'm with Ed on this. Light tough. Don't overdo anything. Jealousy can really be blown out of proportion when in reality jealousy usually comes in mild forms and over simple situations.

    For the other situation - I'd just make it clear even go as far to have the character explain it to a friend. But not in a - thou-doth-protest-too-much way, just simply. A lot of people have relationships with the opposite sex that will never turn romantic.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm not sure you have to make it clear they won't be together later unless there is a specific reason for that to be in there. If it's just because you know it won't happen, let the reader wonder. If it would reflect badly on one or both characters later (such as making them look like a cruel tease) then you might use the 'deny it to another person' tactic that @Shattered Shields and @peachalulu suggested.
     
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think flirting is probably not what two slaves would do, unless they are leading really easy lives and have time for a social life. One of the strongest attractions you can portray is focused interest. Make it clear by their actions that they are extremely aware of each other, that they watch each other when they can. When they are in the same room or scene together, they are absorbed by what the other one is doing. Maybe they snatch a few words when they can. In fact, if you can do the opposite of flirting it will probably be more convincing.

    If they are serious about their feelings, they will feel the other's situation as deeply as their own. If the words they exchange show real concern and/or awareness, that will telegraph attraction like nothing else. Maybe they are shy around each other, which is a much stronger 'tell' than flirting and banter. Flirting and banter can be done easily when you don't actually care all that much about the outcome. Shyness indicates that the outcome matters.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Black slaves in the early US had social lives. They had families that were tragically torn apart. It was part of the inhumanity to have their children sold or a husband or wife.
     
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  8. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    It depends on the type of "slave" situation we're talking about, their previous lives, and their respective ages. Serfdom is a form of slavery, but a person will have limited privileges and freedom. If it's chains around the necks, bruises to cover the rest, that's a whole other story.

    His gaze lingered around the collar around her neck, tracing the outlines of the metal. His finger involuntary followed, gently gliding along until pulled back by a soft hand.

    A deep blush crept over his face, his eyes widening in suprise.

    "I -- I'm sorry," he stammered. "I don't know why I did that."

    She smiled as she pressed his finger against his lip.


    Just add chocolate, whip cream, and cherries. Sounds like a fun night to me.

    Anyway, joking aside. There are different levels of flirting. You could have a small female child who has a crush on a grown man. That type of flirting is harmless, she's just practicing future skills with little fear of rejection. You could have coworkers who, while both married, flirt from time to time. It can be harmless and can even help with their actual relationship. You could have two friends who've always had chemistry who tease eachother, but haven't escalated things yet.

    Then there's sexual tension which can evolve into sexual flirting. That's a whole other ball game and it can be quite direct. It involves more physical contact, more directness, and a lot of body language. Flirting is a skill, but it's also a bit of a game. Like anything though, practice helps.

    My advice? Play it off with body language. Physical contact, looks lasting longer than normal, etc. Flirting is pretty simple.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think I was going with this definition of flirt, but there are certainly other connotations to be considered. Perhaps serious flirting means real interest? And yes, some kinds of slaves had social lives. I think others didn't. It all depends on the story, really.


    flirt
    fləːt/
    verb
    gerund or present participle: flirting
    1
    .
    behave as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions.
    "she began to tease him, flirting with other men in front of him"
    synonyms: trifle with, toy with, tease, lead on, philander with, dally with, make romantic advances to, court, woo, vamp;

    definition 2 had something to do with a bird flicking its tail, which doesn't really apply here
     

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