1. Yarghanine

    Yarghanine New Member

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    Are happy relationships boring to read?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Yarghanine, Nov 20, 2016.

    First post! Hi, everyone.

    So I'm writing a mystery series, and by the middle of the first book my main characters end up together after some tumultuous courting.
    They're in a very solid relationship from day one and I intend to keep it that way. They're going to go through some pretty rough shit throughout the series and I actually kind of need them to have each other. The thing I'm worried about is that people will find their strong relationship boring after a while. How do I make sure it doesn't get stale? And what are some good examples of characters that stay together in stories that aren't primarily romance fics?

    Thank you for answering!
     
  2. Peper Shaker

    Peper Shaker Member

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    Maybe you can incorporate the intricacies of relationships in there, some of the little dramas, insecurities, routines. Might add some substance and keep the reader interested.

    I can't come up with examples right now, my mind is blocked.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    You can give them running conflicts, running jokes, running gestures of affection - all the things that help to make real-life relationships interesting.

    I don't know your characters to give suggestions, but I'm sure you can come up with some. If this were a romance, with the relationship being central to the plot, you might have a problem, but for mysteries? Think of Sherlock and Watson - they may as well have been an established couple, but their relationship didn't detract from the stories.
     
  4. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    If the story is about the relationship, then yes, a relationship without conflict is a story without conflict, but if there's already a main conflict somewhere else, then the relationship could easily be about how they take care of each other.
     
  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    I think a story that has tumultous events doesn't necessarily need a complicated relationship per se. It sounds like your external events provide enough tension to move the plot forward and a mutually supporting relationship is necessary to get through it. So in your case I vote for 'No, you don't need it.' :)
     
  6. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with everyone else. If the story is about the relationship, no conflict makes the story boring to tears. But if you have this couple going on adventures (whatever type of adventures) than the focus is on whatever they're facing.
    If, however, you plan to have meaningful scenes of dialogue and character interaction between action bits, it will be boring unless there's conflict.
    Your post reminds me of the show "Supernatural". I love the dialogue/interaction between the two brothers but I'll admit I like it because they're always bickering and somehow it never gets old (in my opinion). Without the bickering, those scenes just wouldn't make sense in the show.
     
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  7. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    To be honest, I avoid stories that feature romantically attached MCs.
    Furthermore, series like the Dresden Files, even though it's pretty much an episodic series, wherein the MC has a running relationship, and that relationship takes up more screen time... I tire of it, and stop buying the books.
    It's boring, like the friend who wants you to check out the pics he took of his kid's birthday party. Not necessary.
     
  8. BBCotaku

    BBCotaku Member

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    I wouldn't recommend you make the relationship pure sunshine and rainbows. Add a little touch of drama in there. Though, this drama doesn't necessarily have to involve the two running into relationship issues, it could just be one another supporting each other through the story's conflict.

    It might also be a good thing to have the romance be more of the sprinkles than the actual cake, if you get my drift. This is my personal opinion, but books that focus solely on the romance of the MCs tend to become rather dull. The romance should be a nice touch, a cherry on top of a good dessert, but it shouldn't the main bulk of the story, especially if it contains little romantic drama or conflict.
     
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  9. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    I wouldn't find it boring!

    If you were writing a purely romantic story, then I guess it would be weird, but as I understand it the plot and theme of the story is separate from the romance?

    I personally don't like it when an author adds extra problems simply to make the life of their characters more difficult. If the obstacles are well constructed, you needn't many of them :)

    Looking at my bookshelv, the sequel to Little Women, Jo's Boys seems to be the only example: Jo March and Professor Bhaer seem to have a smooth relationship, and that helps me focus on the actual story :)
     
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  10. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    One of the things that consistently irritates me about soap opera (UK variety) characters is that the only couples who are 'happy' (or stable) are the jokey or silly couples. Jack and Vera Duckworth. Derek and Mavis Wilton. Etc. Usually they are separated only by death. Everybody else has 'issues' and end up separating. I find it gets VERY boring, to know that as soon as a relationship begins that it's doomed. It's one of the reasons I stopped watching soaps ages ago.

    In real life, some relationships are very stable and a joy to watch and to be around—and do last forever. There is no reason why a good, solid relationship can't figure in a story. Or, rather, there is no good reason why a dysfunctional one is better or more exciting to read. It's all about what happens in the story otherwise. I'd say go with your characters. If their relationship is sound, don't betray them by artificially changing it or causing rifts that don't feel right for the characters.
     
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  11. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    Write it the way you do a conflict full relationship and it'll be boring. Meaning anything that goes on too long without conflict is boring.

    You can set up that they're in a happy romance. But once you've done that you can quickly move onto something else and periodically reprise it. Letting the reader's imagination do the work.
     
  12. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Happy relationships doesn't mean they're conflict-free. As you know, every married couple fights - even though some of them are definitely in happy marriages. It's more about how you handle the conflict, your priorities, and the ability to communicate, compromise, and put each other first, being sensitive to what's important to the other person, even if it's not that important to you.

    For example, hubby and I had a fight just yesterday - I was doing the housework but hubby was annoyed that there was no lunch cooking. So I told him off to go do it himself and don't complain when I was already doing work! Basically I'm not sure why I haven't learnt this yet but having food ready is just really important to him. But equally, say, right now I am sitting in a restaurant writing this while hubby is upstairs with the baby - I was getting snappier by the minute and the baby was being very whiny, which really annoyed me. So hubby told me to go out and have a break.

    It's pretty rare to see how a couple actually handles their relationship in fiction - usually it's more about their getting together. My theory is that it's just harder to write.

    Anyway I don't see why it has to be boring as long as you write it like a real relationship. In life, people are usually quite interested in these things :)
     
  13. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    Dash Hammett made this work quite well with his The Thin Man with Nick and Nora Charles, and Asta, of course. Hollywood ran with it, and made quite a bundle. Stories thrive on adversity, or conflict, and there's nothing so charming as a couple facing adversity together. In the case of the Charles family, solving crime was their do. You don't see much fiction like this any more what with the advent of warp drives and vampire dragon thingies. Dash was good. He even went to prison for his (our) craft.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. WriteOrRong

    WriteOrRong New Member

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    unfortunately this is why nonsense like Spiderman breaking up with Mary Jane, and Superman breaking up with Lois Lane happens.
    After a while two people being together gets boring to the reader.
     
  15. Forinsyther

    Forinsyther Member

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    I know the feeling, I plan to have a successful, happy relationship in one of my books. To avoid it getting drab for the reader I think it's best to avoid making every scene romantic between them. When you think of a happy relationship in real life, yes they're in love and have romantic moments, but it's also about support and most importantly having fun, because you can't be serious all the time. So if you want your readers to look at the relationship with an "awww" attitude throughout, write scenes where they're being silly together, use examples from real life if you're stuck. It doesn't have to be anything hilarious, sometimes simple and silly is the cutest thing.
     
  16. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    There's no such thing as a boring happy couple. If the couple is truly boring, that couple is not actually happy- there's a hole there somewhere and as the author you need to show it.
     
  17. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Nora Roberts (writing as J.D. Robb) has done this very successfully with her In Death universe. Jeffery Deaver has also done a great job with his portrayal of Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Donaghy if you want to get even further away from the romance genre.
     
  18. Mocheo Timo

    Mocheo Timo Senior Member

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    Since it's a mystery and not a romance, I believe the reader will be much more interested in the crime scene, or the cryptic details, or whatever it is that moves the plot, rather than the happiness of the couple in a relationship.
    Granted, it could become a bit cheesy if the couple agrees in every single thing and behave too ideally. But like other members mentioned already, just a bit of conflict would do. The story doesn't necessarily need serious relationship fights, or even a break-up to be interesting.
     
  19. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    I'll add two more cents.
    Of course I agree that every relationship has a bit of conflict, even the best relationships does. Then again, there's conflict... and there's interesting conflict. While I enjoyed the meaningful dialogues between Mulder and Scully (but they weren't together, but then they were (?)...) I wouldn't want to read about couples discussing the best way to wash their socks.
    It would help to know what kind of problems the OP's couple is going to face. Watching this thread I've come to realise it can make all the difference. Are they solving "murder of the week" or are they facing the zombie apocalypse? Strangely, being faced with one's extinction can be a trigger to conflict that would be bottled up or directed somewhere else in everyday circumstances.
    Either way, there's something that always works with couples (and makes couples work). That's humour. Be it "murder of the week" or The Walking Dead, humour works. If conflict is too distracting from the main plot, humour can be a good option. Everybody enjoys a good laugh.
     
  20. Ebenezer Lux

    Ebenezer Lux Member

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    A relationship with problems can still be a happy one I think is an important takeaway.
     
  21. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Look at Gomez and Morticia Addams. They are in a happy relationship, and it is not a boring one.
     
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  22. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    What @Simpson17866 said, if the story is about something besides the relationship, then the two teaming up to deal with something else, like partners, is fine. If the story focuses on the relationship, how is it a story without conflict?

    Ask yourself, what is the story about?
     
  23. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

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    I agree with this. It depends on how much of the story, the relationship takes up. Perhaps you could have both a main conflict, and a relationship subplot conflict, and have the two conflicts, play off each other?
     
  24. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    OP says it's a mystery series, guys - I think the relationship is definitely only a subplot, if its a plot at all.
     
  25. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    Exactly. If they are harmonious, they can face challenges together. PTxS
     

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