I’m not sure if you ever find this, but sometimes when you write OR read romance in fiction, it can be this combination of super exciting events where the characters cross paths and these oh so exciting near misses and then once they are together it becomes super lame and super boring.
I was reflecting on this the other day because I am writing the final book in a series where the two main characters get together after ages and ages of waiting for them to.
The fact that I was writing this made me really nervous because I had no idea what to do.
I could write miss-communication and unrequited love.
I could write ‘does he like me/does she like me/I don’t know/AH!/Teenage angst.’
I could write the little blossomed moments where, yes, the characters understood one another.
I could write looks exchanged across the room.
I could write these grave moments when they understood that not only did they NEED one another they HAD one another – not that they’d say it.
What I couldn’t write was the characters in a relationship which took a shape that I believed would be appealing to readers.
See more often than not a writer will have to punctuate romance between characters with drama. Jealousy because perhaps that person likes another person or the person they are dating thinks they do? So the characters break up and get back together and break up and get back together and it is weird. Or worse. The characters get together and suddenly a super cool, confident strong girl or boy becomes sappy and needy and making eyes at one another, and ‘no you can’t do blah blah blah in case you get hurt!’ rather than continuing on in the stride of who the character is. OR EVEN WORSE they spend the rest of the book making out.
I was worried I would commit one or all three of these offenses once my characters got together. The reason why was because I genuinely wasn’t sure I could write a decent ‘they are in a relationship now’ relationship between these characters and the problem was that I had them hooking up midway through the book and didn’t want the whole second half to be super lame.
I’m not sure if you have ever had this problem – whether reading or writing – but I do, and as a result of this, I did some thinking.
The fundamental question was this: Do relationships need to be lame? I mean usually they aren’t in real life. In real life the whole getting together side is just the prelude, then you get the real cute, raw, ‘this is what we look like together’ as people work out how to work in sync.
I think it should be the same for romance in fiction.
Just because your characters get together, doesn’t mean they lose their personality. Instead you are uniting these personalities (in whatever form they are in) to be stronger together. Think about your characters, who they are, what they are good at, or bad at, what does that look like now?
Just because your characters are together doesn’t mean it’s either all good or all bad. Sometimes it is in between. Sometimes they have arguments but they aren’t enough to end their relationship, what does that look like? Sometimes they joke around with one another, what does that look like? What are the things that they do that are specific to their relationship? Do they feel embarrassed kissing in front of their friends even if it is only a kiss goodbye? if so. write that. Write the awkward, cute little things.
Josh and I have these weird things we do specific to us. He calls me ‘rabies’ literally… like the disease because years ago he used to pretend the lyrics to Justin Beiber’s Bay was actually ‘Rabies’. He has this habit of hiding things in my handbag while I am not looking – It is apparently a game to him… so I will find socks or keys or an abundance of other things that he’s snuck in while we are at the mall or something. We have this habit of saying, ‘yup!’ or ‘NOPE!’ really loud to confirm or deny something and it makes us seem stupid in public. Josh also has this habit of totally being stupid in photos no matter how serious (including my brother’s wedding photos…) and when he’s not being dumb in a photo, I usually am. We can’t really take a good one…
You may think we’re totally lame, but these are the things that make relationships (whether real or pretend) interesting. so embrace them.
It doesn’t have to be come long emotional BLEH once your characters get together.