Discussion in 'Character Development' started by alexandriadeloraine, Aug 17, 2013.
I do think that his lack of such overt emotional talk is plausible, if he is the detached and enigmatic type. On the other hand, depending on the personality of the heroine, I don't know if it's reasonable for her to be ok with it all the time, even if she may perfectly understand why it may be difficult for him to talk about his feelings and not just show them. I can imagine her silently expecting for that special little extra, at least occasionally, and that could create an interesting dynamic between the two.
I think in general, (not saying you can't write it better), the guy who can't say, "I love you", is cliché and unrealistic.
But, if you don't hit the reader over the head with it, like with the love interest always annoyed or disappointed he never says it aloud, then I think you can have characters that have an immense love for each other that goes unspoken throughout a story. There should be some reason, though, why it goes unsaid. And I'm not sure what that would be.
While it makes sense, why do these two never have those moments of intimacy and are they both so content with the rest of their existence that they can live without that intimacy?
Love involves so much more than just infatuation, attraction, devotion or whatever you envision these characters having. A person could sacrifice the intimacy for other rewards. Bogart's famous, "Here's looking at you kid," is just such an unrequited love (ignoring the fact Bergman has another love). But it's very unsatisfying to the reader unless there is a reason, often a tragic or self sacrificing reason.
I'm not sure cool and reserved and busy with his own goals by itself meets that criteria. On the other hand, if there is a reason for this tragic unrequited love, or even if they both are fulfilled without the intimacy declaring their love for each other, then great stories are written this way.
What you need is a reason deeper than, it just doesn't come up, and recognition or knowledge of what it means to have an immensely profound, but unspoken love. What are the ramifications of such an empty longing?
I don't think saying I love you is necessary when showing established relationships, but if you have romance as part of the plot, it gets a bit trickier. If it's clear they love each other and aren't having any sort of relationship troubles, saying 'I love you,' probably isn't necessary. If they have any sort of love trouble (like a misunderstanding, or her not thinking he's romantic enough) it might cause the reader to want some sort of defining 'Yes, these two are definitely a couple and in love' moment.
If you think the story can survive with the reader knowing they love each other and the reader knowing that THEY know they love each other, a declaration of love shouldn't be necessary. However, without a confession, the story could leave the reader feeling unsatisfied and thinking 'Did they get together or not!?' In the end, it depends on the way the story is written. So far, it doesn't sound like him loving her is any big revelation to either them or the readers, so I would say a love confession isn't needed.
Again, the story is what makes it OK or not OK. You are telling me things that may be evident in the story, "the love between these two is quite mutual". That leads me to ask, why even ask about love unstated? I don't get it. Why does it go unstated? Why do you feel the need to leave it unsaid? What point does it serve the story?
It is indeed not necessary if there is a reason and if you understand (and relate to the reader) the implications/consequences of the unstated words.
Yes - if he loves her, and he doesn't have a problem with acknowledging that, and you're worried about the fact that he never says it...why not just have him say it?
Definitely don't have to worry about "I love you." The "hero" sounds incredibly lame, though.
If it's powerful love, I do find it a bit weird if he never confesses his love to the possible love of his life... but, you know, people are weird. Maybe he just never says it in those words, maybe he has some obsession with the words so he can't say them (like an actual mental condition? You know how some people have to wash their hands exactly 10 times etc.), he's afraid of jinxing it or something. Besides, they're just words. If he shows his love in actions rather than in words, that's perfectly fine and potentially interesting too. And if there's never a suitable moment in the story for him to say those words, then leave them out, no sense in cramming something in there that doesn't feel right to you. I doubt I'd stop and wonder "huh, wonder why he never confesses his love the way most people do?" unless you make an issue out of it.
Good luck with your story!
The "does he say it?" is just one factor, and it's hard to judge it in isolation, even with the other background that you've given. So I want it to be clear that the impression below isn't grounded with, well, much in the way of grounds.
But I am getting a vibe of what I might call an "over competent" character, and an un-balanced relationship. There's a lot of focus on everything that he does for her and sacrifices for her, and on his goals. And on him being cool and reserved, and very very important. I'm getting a calm, cool, powerful character standing on a cliff's edge, his chin up and his cloak fluttering behind him.
And that isn't working all that well for me, in terms of romance. I want some whimsey. I want some evidence that he has a sense of humor, and that the two of them can bond on trivial as well as cosmic world-shaking grounds. I want to be able to identify with him, not just stare at him worshipfully. I'd like to see him going out to the market to try to find those green-onion doughnuts that she loves so much, and being befuddled because his marketing has always been done by servants and he doesn't know how it works. Or something like that; I want to see a lack of perfect competence.
And I want her to do important things for him, rather than her just being the object of his sacrifice. I want more balance.
Maybe that's all in there, but if not, it may be something to think about.
I think you are going about this backwards. What your characters do or don't do should be based on your reasons, on what you want the reader to feel about the characters and the story.
If you are aware you are leaving something out, a profound love that isn't openly acknowledged the way most profound loves are acknowledged, then you should have a reason for that. It shouldn't be a random thing that just doesn't have a scene and you are curious how the readers will view it.
Here are some possibilities:
A) The readers might not notice, it's so clear the two are in love the reader just assumes they weren't privy to the exchange of words.
B) The readers might notice, and the missing words might weaken the emotion the readers experience between the characters.
C) The readers might notice, but it has meaning about the characters, the absent words contribute to the emotional picture you are creating.
Ask yourself, what is the importance of leaving the spoken words out? If you answer is, no reason, it just not there and I wondered what people would think, then you need to go back and get into the heads of your characters. Because you've left out something that one finds with every other profound love and that suggests to me, you better have a reason for it or you do risk the readers reacting negatively to it.
No, the character does not have to say, "I love you" in order to show affection, although hearing said words is nice. There are plenty of ways to show affection towards someone: remembering things they say, doing something nice for them, telling them they look handsome/pretty, trusting them, complimenting them, being polite and honest, comforting them, sleeping with them (no sexual implications intended), etc.
I really don't see this as any different from real-life relationships where the parties don't actually say the words "I love you" to one another. There are many people who don't regularly say this phrase, but they show their love in other ways -- a gentle touch, or making coffee for the other person exactly the way he/she likes it, making sacrifices, etc. It sounds like you have these other sorts of things in your story, and I'm not sure anyone would even notice the lack of this particular phrase if it's clear they love each other. In fact, if you force them to say it, it might come across as unnatural and might end up conveying the opposite of what you intend.
well ill come from a science fiction classic that I can relate to. Han Solo yes I'm going with Han Solo... well you probably see where this is going and I've actually had this reversed on my quiet often...
princess leia: "i love you"
and what does Mr Solo say just before being frozen in carbonite.... "i know"
Perfect you dont need to have him say I love you but you can actually have him acknowkledge the love in different ways... the fact that he continues to save her ...
Ive actually said I love you to girl friends and generally speaking the women have been converted or are starwars girls or just plain scifi nerds... I know
I know is perfect and I understand what she meant... I think what im trying to get at is princess Leia comes off as a tomboyish tough girl... and lets face it she got a soft side... but Han is male and has been a tough boy his whole life... lets face it.... you play around with the cutesy little girls ... the ones that conformed to societies crap, even pretend its love but you love the tough girls... cos they got balls... and you dont say i love you to a brother ... cos in the end you love her more than a brother but you treat her like a best friend... best friends become lovers.. and thats where true love should come from... a friendship before the love... and men most men dont like pussy footing about ... we dont do romance we do friendship and then romance then LOVE...
women forget the friendship i believe... so
Personally, I dun fell like you need him to say "I love you", especially if he shows it in so many other ways.
Sometimes I wonder if people haven't become so overly connected to those three words that they think its the ONLY way of proving you love someone. Well no, its not, there's a lot of ways to show you love a person, and not everyone is going to say those three words. Hans Solo is a good example.
Honestly, as a reader, I'd feel like the author made a sacrifice to make a character do something they usually wouldn't. If you have an emotionally detached character (like I do), they aren't going to go out of their way all the time just to say those three words and make the world happy, and we as readers don't NEED to see it in the story. Grant it, there are the few times where we're just screaming at the one character to make a move (aka Robin and Starfire), but that's totally different because they might not show their love for that person, or the other person on the receiving end is just a blockhead and dun get what the first person is trying to achieve.
But yes, dun force you character to say those three words to suit the world. If he's the type of character that won't openly say it for whatever reasons, then please please PLEASE dun sacrifice part of his character just to make him say it where we can see it. Just having him acknowledge he loves her is enough. Even if he says "I know".
Good luck with your story.
For me, I keep thinking that you shouldn't ask your readers/forum members what they think about that, but your heroine: what does she think?
Does it matter to her? if she is a strong woman, wouldn't she mention it? It is something she as to react to. What does she think about it, has she talked about it with someone else? Has someone else said something about that to her? It seems to be a bit of an issue to you, so it must be part of what is happening there, so could you write it in?
Just my 2c worth.....
Exactly, hvb. Welcome to the forum.
But we are only telling you what we think. And neither hvb nor I are trying to tell you what to write or what your story is about or who your characters are. We are simply describing the road an author takes in order to put those people in your head onto a page where the reader can share them with you.
Separate names with a comma.