Tags:
  1. Viserion

    Viserion Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2020
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    175

    Implying attraction

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Viserion, May 11, 2020.

    In my writing project, two of the main characters (good friends) begin to be attracted to each other. I’m wondering how to go about this.

    I want it to be subtle- one thinking about the other’s attractiveness- without being cheesy or forced. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2016
    Messages:
    571
    Likes Received:
    703
    In my experience, showing that a character feels attracted to some unusual specific thing about the other is the best way to go. Saying the love interest has beautiful hair or eyes is kind of cliche, but commenting on how cute that stupid mole on their cheek is and how you just want to kiss it shows a lot.
     
    marshipan, Viserion and Wreybies like this.
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    23,827
    Likes Received:
    20,808
    Location:
    El Tembloroso Caribe
    Take a single (single!) trait the object of desire possesses and zoom in on it in a positive light. Contrary to what Westworld would like us to engage, where Dolores Abernathy is able to remember a Host back into being, a real human isn't remotely able to do that. We only see and acknowledge facets of a person at any given time, be they physical, behavioral, or other qualitative aspects.

    Find the facet that shines the brightest in that moment of your narrative and give that to us in sharp detail, a detail that is the observing character's engagement.
     
  4. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    4,577
    Likes Received:
    3,705
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    When I was in third grade a boy moved from Germany to Canada (he was Canadian/German and was returning after a long stay.) My Bff and I at first thought him very nerdy - odd hair cut, that accent, but we still hung out with him cause he lived near me and he was quite lonely. One day it started to change - maybe he got a haircut, maybe his accent relaxed but I seemed to recall being quite interested in the way his body moved when he played tennis - or rather hit a tennis ball up against the school wall. I don't know why but suddenly his strength and ability was intriguing and I was hopelessly in love with him and since me and my bff always did the same thing she had to fall in love with him too. We spent the next year following him around especially to watch him play squash, passing him notes in class, and just bugging him to hang out with us.

    I think you need to have that moment that frames the person in a new light ... it's like eureka - a switch has been thrown - they are no longer in the category of friend but they've now stepped into the path of possibilities. What does that can be anything that exposes something that intrigues the mc - I remember in a Norma Fox Mazer short story it was a girl who fell for her best friend, a guy, simply because he said to his little sister - watch it honey, that's really cold (when dishing out ice cream) and she was struck by his tenderness. His switch was more physical - they were out camping and the temperature dropped and they were forced to share a sleeping bag and that did it for him.
     
  5. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Messages:
    852
    Likes Received:
    950
    I wrote a romance last year where two main characters fell in love and at no time did either of them ever think about the other one being attractive. That's shallow. Real emotions are a lot deeper than that.
     
    Lifeline and Cave Troll like this.
  6. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    4,118
    Likes Received:
    4,482
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Ah, but attractiveness can be more than physical.
     
    jim onion and Lifeline like this.
  7. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,290
    Likes Received:
    5,808
    Location:
    On the Road.
    When I was dating, I regularly fell for the boys that were not 'attractive' in the mainstream sense. Some of them I'd objectively describe as ugly, and not who I'd ever find attractive in the physical sense; but there you have it :oops:.

    One of them, like @peachalulu said, I fell for the way he moved and his wide smile. It split his face in two, almost.

    The other one, it was his sheer sense of daring. He said something to me no one else ever would/should. Very, very impolite and borderline criminal—though I hasten to add the situation was in self defense training and specifically set up to encourage putting the defender (that was me) on their guard. So he really was only doing what the situation demanded, in a safe setting, and I admired him for it. After my shock wore off :D.

    Then there's presence. There's one guy who, when he flips a switch, my eyes are drawn to him. As if all light in the room suddenly comes from him. We're close friends, brother and sister in the allegorical sense of the word. He's one of the great blessings in my life.

    Another one, it was his self-assurance. He focuses on what he does and says. His mind is in the present, always. I don't believe he'll ever do something impulsive without being aware of the consequences.

    ETA: Something sets these men apart from the others, something that's unique to each of them. I'd believe any romance, even and especially where characters are not mainstream attractive, that convinces me that the MC falls for their partner's uniqueness.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
    Malisky, peachalulu and Catrin Lewis like this.
  8. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2020
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    440
    Location:
    Sweden
    I think it's going to depend a bit on the characterization in general. Is the character the type to express attraction or hide it? Are they comfortable with it or does it make them uncomfortable, perhaps because they feel vulnerable when having to confront it? How consciously aware are they of this attraction in the first place? I don't think there is a universal formula for how people react to attraction, or really anything for that matter. You have to think of them as individuals and figure out how this individual, specifically, will act in a given situation.

    That said, consider that attraction means being drawn together. So, regardless it will probably take the form of a certain level of interest/fascination - if you are attracted to someone, that person will tend to occupy your attention and you will desire the attention of that person in return. (Be it consciously or subconsciously.) So, they'll tend to be very mindful of each other, display concern about how the other sees and feels about them, and so on. Note that this doesn't have to be very overt or explicit at all - in fact, it probably works better if you keep it subtle and implied.

    Also, the most common way to express healthy emotional attraction is by acts of affection. This is doubly effective since displaying affection means leaving yourself somewhat vulnerable - effectively you are inviting another person to be emotionally close to you - which implies trust, or at least a desire for trust. The level of intimacy, of course, depends on what stage you want the relationship to be at, how honest the characters are being about their feelings and how secure they are with each other.

    Now, I know that may sound blatantly obvious - of course people are affectionate with those they really like - but if you spend some time observing how people act you'll find that a lot of them seem genuinely unwilling or embarrassed to openly show affection even for people they ostensibly like very much. This is especially true for us men, who are still pretty much expected to never show emotional weakness at all. Because of this, even small displays of honest affection can have a pretty significant impact.

    In fact, affection is such a powerful signal of a positive emotional bond that you can get away with using it only on occasion: Even if your characters spend the rest of their time arguing and bickering, the readers will interpret the affectionate scenes as how they really feel about each other. Of course this works especially well if you have them be affectionate at key moments when it really matters.

    (Though, make sure neither of the characters are actually being abusive or toxic, because then we've veered into some pretty dark territory. You do not want to imply that mistreating someone who has grown emotionally dependent on you is okay as long as you're a bit nice to them once in a while.)

    I could go on talking about chemistry, charisma and why I think the prevalence of shipping in fandoms is probably more significant than most of us realize, but I think I've covered the relevant stuff now and I really need to learn when to stop typing.
     
  9. jim onion

    jim onion New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2016
    Messages:
    2,913
    Likes Received:
    3,637
    Perhaps having one character wonder what the other is doing, or routinely compare their own experience to that other person who their subconscious has become fixated on, would be a way to hint it to the reader without having the character say it outright.

    Or, you can put them into competition with one another. Finally the protagonist meets somebody who is a challenge to them intellectually, or can return and volley their witty remarks. There's a feeling of being on the same wavelength that's pretty, uh, stimulating.

    Or, one character is helped by the other, restoring in them a belief that life can be good. Their sense of being indebted to this person instead becomes an attraction to the quality that the "savior" is the type of person who wants to help anybody that they can. They're a good person, and they want to help them help others.

    If I think back to the girls I've fallen for, it was their charm, their wit, their intelligence, their sense of humor, and their abilities and talents. Initial attraction for me is almost always physical, but that's pretty flimsy and fleeting.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
    Lifeline and Viserion like this.
  10. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    9,317
    Likes Received:
    10,072
    Location:
    Way, way out there
    Physical attraction is a part of infatuation, which can be the beginning—it's the priming or the jump-start that gets things rolling. It also includes many of the other elements you mentioned (@Foxxx ), the flirting and the beginnings of deeper connections. The infatuation phase ends soon enough, a few months maybe, and if a deeper connection has developed, at that point it's the only thing left to hold you together.

    To show the infatuation phase growing the character would begin to have very warm feelings about the other, to think about them longingly whenever they're not around, and want to be with them as much as possible. Maybe their friends notice and start teasing him (or her) about it, and the reaction is embarrassment and/or denial, probably to a ridiculous degree, and they tease even more about that. When the other person isn't around they might be distracted, daydreaming about them and need to be snapped out of it etc. All the typical crush stuff, though that expresses somewhat differently for males than for females usually. It might be the same inside (who can say?) but males at least tend to show it differently, to try harder to hide it, to seem unaffected and disinterested. But enough teasing about it can make them blush and get angry.
     
  11. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Messages:
    852
    Likes Received:
    950
    Indeed it can, but that's often what people mean when they use the word. You can be attracted to things that are not physical.
     
  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    9,317
    Likes Received:
    10,072
    Location:
    Way, way out there
    As an adjunct to my earlier post, it's also common to pick on the person you're attracted to. It's a sort of defensive overreaction, to cover the vulnerability. People who want to seem unaffected or tough or whatever will resort to this. But so will people who are more direct about it, they might pick on the other one but affectionately, as a part of flirting. I mean, not really picking on them though, making it obvious it's flirting.
     
  13. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    4,118
    Likes Received:
    4,482
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Looking at @Viserion's original post again, I'd venture to say the parties would not be thinking about the other's "attractiveness," per se. They would be thinking about them. As in, "I wonder what Friend would think of this!" and "I hope Friend is there, I really want to see him!" And the day being inexplicably ruined when he is not.

    Then you can have one friend come to the other's defense when he/she isn't there, even though speaking up might jeopardize another important relationship. My first novel is a friends-to-lovers story, with a scene like that that leaves the FMC wondering why the heck he risked an essential contract to speak up for her. But he did. Meanwhile, the reader is given to understand it's a sign he's beginning to think of the FMC in a different way.
     
  14. jim onion

    jim onion New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2016
    Messages:
    2,913
    Likes Received:
    3,637
    I've never been particularly, er, successful in this realm of existence, so I don't really know why I'm here, but you're making sense. Going to go drink some sake now. It understands me.

    @Viserion Not that I am the measuring stick by which to judge all others, but I truly believe you have received some very good and relatively consistent feedback from your fellow forumers here. I thought @Catrin Lewis had a particularly good observation about how their absence can "inexplicably ruin" an event or even an entire day. I wish I'd thought of that, because it's been very true in my experience.

    Of course, to me it's unclear how much of such a reaction is infatuation, versus "love", etc etc. That's where it gets way too confusing for me, and I find that discussion gets tedious, personal, and irritating, with everybody talking past one another because nobody can agree on a definition. At the end of the day I think people generally fall into different attachment categories. There's a whole slice of psychology dedicated to studying attachment theory. You might be well served by Googling about it, or picking up a book on it.

    It's not full-proof, but a lot can be guessed about a person (with surprising accuracy) by carefully observing somebody's attachment style. This, in part, explains the difference in replies here. Just be aware that people rarely ever fall neatly into one exclusive category; there's usually at least a little overlap. But you're looking for *themes* and trends of behavior here, not absolute scientific law.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
    matwoolf, Malisky, Xoic and 1 other person like this.
  15. ddavidv

    ddavidv Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    433
    Likes Received:
    310
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Guys are very visual so it is too easy for a male writer or character to talk about physical 'attributes'. I sprinkle in a little innuendo much later in a romantic story. Initial attraction can be something completely non-sexual though still physical (because physical cues are easier for the writer to utilize). I effectively used a character's eyes in one book as the item of attraction. Another character was attractive because she was so shockingly vulgar in a funny way. The MC found it humorous and got him to look deeper into someone he normally wouldn't have been interested in. My recommendation is to focus on one thing, hopefully something atypical.
     
    Viserion likes this.
  16. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2018
    Messages:
    852
    Likes Received:
    849
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
    Attraction doesn't always have to be about appearance it can be admiration in another's personality. My Mum wasn't in the slightest bit attracted to my step-dad when she first met him as there is very little physically about him to be attracted to, he'll admit that. But he never struggled with women because he's really fun. He's a great listener. He'll go out of his way to help you as much as he can. He's super-humanly loyal. Wise and has this way of calming you down and offering logical plans of action for any dilemma. He can dislike someone but if that person is being treated unfairly he'll say it. All these things changed my Mum's impression of him the more she got to know him. Have it go deeper than what a person looks like because looks really mean nothing.

    One word of warning as you're using a "good friends hook up" scenario. Don't wait too long to shoe attraction. Don't friend zone them too much. I used to love a TV show as a young teen and to of the characters in the show met in season 1, became firm friends and by season 2 were best friends. Their dynamic worked and they were brilliant together but there was a hint of attraction in just two episodes so it was too subtle. Then in season 3 they, rather quickly, began developing an attraction that just felt rather weird. It was nice that they bothered with each other because they genuinely liked each other with no agenda but the writer's waited too long and let them get too close, to the point these friends felt more like a big brother and a little sister. Most of the viewers had a hard time backing them hooking up because of this. Luckily the show runs picked up on this and used it to strengthen their friendship. They changed it to an unrequited love that lead to him getting a broken heart and then they had to fight to keep their friendship alive. And they did for the rest of the show. It takes a strong friendship to get over something like that. It would have been perfected because they took a lot of time showing us how right for each other these characters were, it was just too much of a slow burn and their relationship was too well established.

    Anyway, hope this helps x
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2020
    Viserion likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice