1. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    First meetings are important and they're killing me

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by cherrya, Apr 8, 2018.

    This is ridiculous. I can't figure out how I want my two main characters to meet. They're both boys who're meant to become best friends only to later develop romantic feelings for each other, so I want it to be really meaningful, but I feel a blockage every time I try to think about something.

    I think the things that are messing me up the most is that they're both 11-12 when they meet, and I'm not really used to writing about kids, and also the fact that they're about to enter boarding school. But I'd like it if they could meet before entering the school, or perhaps on their way there (by train, it's happening in the 30's because the war will play an active role in the story).

    It's just, I don't know, how are memorable friendships formed in books/movies? I can't think about anything about 12 y/o kids. I thought about some foreshadowing about the war, but how does one do that with a meeting?

    Ugh, I was hoping writing this could help me get my thoughts in order but really I'm still just as lost. I don't want it to be all about lust because they're not supposed to know how they feel yet, although maybe a little would make sense? It's just, something's supposed to click, when they meet, like they found their soulmate or something (not that they necessarily are but)... Maybe I'm putting too much pressure on myself and that's the problem. I'm just gonna stop and leave this here now...
     
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  2. lonelystar

    lonelystar Active Member

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    The train sounds like a good idea, or maybe a shop as they buy items to take to the boarding school.

    We meet people all the time some meetings are memorable, some people are memorable. Not all these become our friends (this could be good or bad).

    Do they definitely have to meet at this stage? If not could they discover two years later that they had been on the same train (different class or carriage?)
    If you decide to go down the train route remember specific details about the company including locomotives. People who know will pick up on little details.
     
  3. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    A few ideas:

    Piggybacking off of what @lonelystar said, in line to buy something.

    One of them might have stepped in and defended the other's little sister against a bully or saved her from a mean dog or something.

    One of them might have been sent to the store to buy something and lost it on the way home and then happens upon the other kid who helps him to look for it (It's the depression, items and money would have been precious even to people who had means).

    One of them saves the other from a bully by distracting the bully.

    Kid is riding his bicycle, gets a flat, the other kid rides by, stops, and helps him fix it.

    Kid helps the other kid search for his lost pet, or is the one who found lost pet.

    edited for typo
     
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  4. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Contributor Contributor

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    Can I just ask something? Does it really have to be a super meaningful meeting? Like, I know I defend cliches a lot, but one that's always bothered me is the "single moment clearly shows that two characters will become romantically involved" one. Like, why not just have them meet in some mundane way, like being lab partners or something? I met my best friend because her best friend wanted to meet me, and things took off from there. I met all of my favorite people just because we were in the same high school class. The point is, good relationships aren't built off of big meetings, they're built off of what comes after. Harry met Ron on the train. Percy met Annabeth in camp. Superman met Louis at his job. (I'm trying really hard to think of some more examples that a lot of people will know about, but I'm having troubles.) Frodo and Gandalf met via Gandalf's prior visits to the Shire.

    The point is, you can build memorable relationships out of mundane meetings, because the meetings just don't matter as much as what comes after.
     
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  5. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    Two of my best friends were made from making up after a fight at school.
    One we spent time shut in a room to contemplate our bad deeds. From that we got to know one another and became friends.
    The other was a scraping tussle over the ownership of a coffee can full of marbles. The next thing we were inseparable through 5th and 6th grades.
     
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  6. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

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    Trains are great places to meet people. Lots of school stories begin with people meeting friends on the train. It's a long journey. You've finished your comic and eaten all your food. You're bored to tears. But the boy opposite you looks bored too, why not strike up a conversation? Or perhaps one boy loses his case on the platform and the other one finds it. I'd also advise you - and I know you said you'd like it if they met before they were there - that when you have a bunch of boys starting school, most likely no-one's going to know anyone, so everyone will be making an extra effort to reach out to new people in order to make friends - and of course, no-one has a clue how the school works, where anything is, etc., and there's nothing like a shared mishap (getting lost being the most obvious example) to form a bond, in my experience.
     
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  7. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself, yes. It will be meaningful simply by virtue of the fact that it's their first meeting, and trying to shoehorn in additional meaning in the form of foreshadowing or a soulmate moment would cheapen it, I think. I loooove first meetings, and I think part of their magic is the fact that neither person knows how momentous an event it really is; it looks dull and coincidental from their perspective, but the reader/viewer knows better.

    If you try for anything, try for an establishing character moment. Something that will give you a chance to poignantly illustrate for the reader what kind of person one or both of the boys is. @EstherMayRose's suggestion of a shared mishap can be a great way to do this, since it would show us how they react to stressful situations (however minor).

    The first time Dr. Watson meets Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, a mutual friend takes Watson into a laboratory where Holmes is doing an experiment. This is very dull on the surface (everyone's had a friend introduce them to someone), but it's an establishing character moment for Holmes. And it is a momentous occasion all on its own, being the first meeting of one of the most famous partnerships in literature.

    It should feel natural, though. If you're trying to do the establishing character moment thing and it's feeling forced, abort and go for something more plain. Like I said, the meaningfulness will speak for itself.
     
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  8. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    Also...in my experience as the only girl working with mostly guys for most of my working life, and from having a lot of platonic male friends in my life...

    Guy friendships are just not that complicated. They become friends easily, over things most women would consider minor moments and they remain extremely loyal friends. It's one of the reasons I like having guy friends in my life.

    It's usually something as simple as one guy sees another guy in the apartment complex moving something heavy, says, "Hey, man, need a hand?" or says "Hey man, I've got a dolly, lemme go grab it" and helps him out, then when they're finished moving whatever it is, the guy whose heavy object it was says, "Thanks man, want a beer?" They have a beer, then one of them invites the other over when all the guys are watching the game, and now they're friends.

    I'm sure it's probably the same way with little boys, too.
     
  9. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Men can be complex, but overall we are pretty simple creatures.
     
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  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I signed up here because of this exact question (well, different characters, obviously), so this made me smile. :) I tried several scenarios before I finally found one that worked.

    I think many authors find this a problem in romance, judging by how many manuscripts I beta read where the MCs meet in a bar (yawn).

    I definitely wouldn't do it on the train. Two boys meeting on a train on the way to their new boarding school = Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.

    Maybe the problem is you're trying to make this meeting "meaningful" between two soul mates. Real life doesn't work that way. We might be physically attracted to somebody right away, and we might click right away, but first meetings are rarely meaningful. They're accidents, chance meetings, and we don't fall in love until later (I know some people claim they had love at first sight but I don't believe it even in fiction).

    Instead of worrying about how you can make this chance meeting significant, think about what you want it to reveal about the characters. That's much more important.
     
  11. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    When I was eleven, I found myself trapped in places with other kids. Church. School. The neighborhood. Half the time, you'd just start talking or ask to play whatever, then find out names later. Sometimes, you might literally ask, "want to be friends?" Other times you'd hit it off, then later go walking or riding around looking for the other kid to play again.

    It's such natural grouping / bonding behavior that it comes off without a hitch most of the time.
     
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  12. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    Lots of great advice already.

    This is just a random suggestion, but... what if one of them needs help and the other boy helps him? It can be that simple. Maybe one of them is lost or getting bullied.

    Say they’re on a train ride. One of them had his things stolen by a bully. He steals them back when the bullies aren’t looking and runs. He ducks into Boy #2’s train car, hides in the overhead luggage bin, and hisses, “Don’t tell them I’m here!” Boy #2 has no idea what the hell is going on, but he helps out anyway by lying/distracting the bullies until they go away.

    A lot of friendships are built on simple things like that. Helping each other out.
     
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  13. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    ^this.

    I love it when two characters meet for the first time... and the meeting itself is really simple, but internally I’m already thinking: “These adorable motherfuckers are about to be BEST FRIENDS.”
     
  14. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    Mh, I get what you all mean. I guess it could be interesting to play on the fact that they built such a strong friendship by accident. I just didn't want it to be just a result of circumstance, as in "oh look, this guy is sitting right in front of me hi let's be friends". I mean to show that it couldn't have been anybody else, but maybe I was mistaken in thinking that the way they met was what contributed to that. I suppose it's more about chemestry than any other thing first.
     
  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I couldn't come up with an exact scenario so I didn't suggest this, but I was imagining one of them helping the other in a way that makes it clear that they share an interest. Like, one's prize postage stamp flutters away in the wind produced by an opened door, and the other one not only runs after it, but takes his stamp tongs out of his shirt pocket to pick it up properly. Or something. (OK, that's a fairly exact scenario, I was just having trouble with why Boy B could get it so much more easily than Boy A.)

    Edited to add: Or they could share a weakness, like my salmonella kids.

    https://www.writingforums.org/threads/story-a-day-random-whimsey.147320/#post-1467936
     
  16. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    Oh god, this is so cute.
     
  17. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    But it *could* have been anyone else - that's how life works. If they do meet on a train, then it could so easily have been someone else Boy A ended up sharing a carriage with.

    As you say, it's about chemistry. The boys could have met anyone else in that situation, but they wouldn't have the same connection with anybody else. How and where they meet is pretty irrelevant when you focus on the important thing. The trouble I had was that one of my MCs was purposely trying not to meet and talk to people, so I had to engineer a situation where he was forced to engage with the other MC. But the world is your oyster!
     
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