OK I have a MC who needs to develop a romantic connection with another character, who was only recently introduced, and he needs to do it within fifteen pages or less. It is plot critical, and it has to work.
Is instant "love" device possible? Or is it ridiculous and unbelievably convenient. (Sort of like Romeo and Juliet cheesiness.) It is important to note the ages of the characters are mid twenties. So not extremely seasoned, but not naive fifteen year old soap opera romance either. And again this has to be the real deal. So, can it work? And what would it take for you to buy it as a reader? How would you do it?
I can give you a kind of example that might work, depending on what the MC is going through in his personal life.
Young men in their twenties can "emotion-up" pretty quick if they have other catalysts that are already working on them. For example, let's say Bob's dad is dying of cancer, and he's just come back from the third unsuccessful surgery, and Bob knows it's just a matter of time...
This is a character that is ultimately vulnerable to any emotional bonding. He isn't burned by love, he's burned by any other facet of life that isn't love, and he NEEDS some form of emotional bond that he can turn to, rely on, and ultimately distract him from his current problem.
If you can do two different points of view in the limited space, you can also introduce some short scene with the said girl. It's probably not best that she be doing the same thing. Rather, that she's just ready for a relationship, or has like him for a while, or something...
Have them meet, or have a class together or work together or bump into each other at the grocery store and you can probably quickly have things go from one to the next...
At least that's how I'd do it. And in the process, you get to do some pretty serious character examiniation, which will make it feel more real, and help you justify why the love went "Boom!"
[This message has been edited by Igwiz (edited December 03, 2007).]
It depends on what you mean by "plot critical" and what happens in those 15 pages.
Depending on how it's written, 15 pages can span a decade. I'm assuming you're intending the 15 pages to just span a few weeks? Months? What do you mean by "the real deal", that it is "true love"?
I think the real danger here is not in making the romance believable, it's in making the romance seem gimmicky. I suppose the two are connected. I could believe a couple in their mid 20's would fall in love quickly. I'd have a hard time believing, say, one would sacrifice one's life for the other, though cultural context might make it work (think of the courtly love of the Middle Ages).
So, can it work? I'm afraid the answer is, "It depends."
I have a really hard time (no, not hard, I can't do it) forcing my characters to fall in love. For me, either they did or they didn't. In my first novel, I changed the plot because they refused to be any more than friends. It turned out the guy was gay without having told me. Who knew? *blinks*
Edit: Yeah, that's no help. Sorry. I think that's too little information to say much. People can fall in love fairly quickly and the more stressed the situation, the faster they'll fall in love. War romances are pretty much a cliche (a workable one) because of that. Being in their twenties makes falling in love believable. People in that age group are likely to expect to be involved with someone. Beyond that, you can go one of two ways. Put some tension between them, come conflict. That sometimes makes spark fly between men and women, but don't make it just bickering which seems "cheap" to me. Or make them have some serious goal in common that they start working toward and bonding can be pretty natural.
I'd also try to avoid the appearance of a character just thrown in for a "love interest." Personally I hate that. Make the new character real and have a real purpose in the plot beyond "love interest."
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 03, 2007).]
What if it turns out that they've known each other for a while online, and have really connected, under pseudonyms? They've always wanted to meet, but been too shy or afraid of what their friends would think if they had an 'internet date'? They meet, get along great, get to chatting - and wham, realize that they've known each other for ages? The rest falls into place.
If they're not net-savvy, you may have to resort to unexplainable 'true love at first sight'. Instant chemical attraction is definitely part of human nature, but some people also fall in love easily. I'm a little incredulous toward that kind of character (though there are cases of people marrying within months and staying happily so for years, so hey), but I'd want to see a good set of preexisting conditions that lines them up for the fall, so to speak, like Igwiz suggests. But, I don't think that specific example would work for me. The character may be the sort to close down emotionally in a family crisis like that, pushing love away rather than reaching for it - if he reached for it and found it while he's emotionally distressed like that and not entirely himself, I'd see the relationship as more of a buoy or a crutch than an honest, genuine falling-in-love deal, but that may just be me.
It's hard to say exactly what can be done without more information. Is romantic love essential, or would a deep bond suffice? Do they have to mutually realize their love, or can the plot goal be achieved in a state of lovers' yearning? People will go a long way to impress someone they're interested in even if the other's unaware, after all.
See, I didn't think that we had to have "Princess Bride" TRUE LOVE here. We just had to have a romantic connection that went beyond a quick hookup, and that it had to happen quick.
I guess I see that there are several different scenarios here.
1) Cheap, end of the night, dual intoxication, wake up to, "I think that was pretty good...what's your name again?" hook-up.
2) Meet, go on one date, just have it "click," call you tomorrow morning, talk for 3 hours, my god, how can we have so much in common, meet for lunch, meet for dinner, hook up on night 2, and start a day-to-day inseperability that is twenty-something dating.
3) Spend 5 months in some situation that isn't romantic or sexual, get stuck as the last two people not picked for an Econ 263 project, and somewhere, over the next 2 weeks, decide that not only are you into each other, but that you could really see yourself waking up with this person for the rest of your life.
And, the 859 other variations that fall somewhere in there. Of course, that's not counting the "dude, she's not that hot but it's sex" approach, or the dependent/co-dependent, "he isn't that nice to me, but he still needs me," approach.
So it has a lot to do with what's going on. You say it's plot dependent. If that's the case, you should be able to outline backwards to get the decision sets that both will need to get you where you want them. Then you should be able to determine which of the 862 versions above you would need...
Hope that helps (more).
[This message has been edited by Igwiz (edited December 03, 2007).]
Have their relationship be all about banter. Then have her get distant at some point (say page 3 or 4.) He gets confused. He moves on and does other things. But he can't stop thinking about her. And keeps coming back to her, wondering what happened. They happen to meet again, their eyes meet, she looks away, he sees tears in her eyes. Finally he confronts her. She looks back up at him, tells him that if he doesn't like her, it's fine, but it's just too hard for her to be around him otherwise. Have the bells go jangling in his ears, have him realize this is what he's always wanted...
Something like that.
(FWIW, love at first sight is ABSOLUTELY possible. It might take people a little while to figure that out/stop seeing others/straighten up and pay attention, but I speak from experience , it's possible.)
Does the banter thing ever work? I usually feel, if there isn't some actual conflict, that it's fake and the author is just throwing it in. But maybe it could be made to work with some characters if they were the kind of characters who would find banter natural.
Really, I don't think it's something people can advise you on very well without knowing the world and milieu you're writing and something about the characters. I tend to assume a fair amount of maturity for characters in their twenties, for instance, but that wouldn't necessarily be true.
Relationships are usually built on shared interests, overcoming adversity, time spent in each others company, sexual interest.(Money and fame to one side)
So if for example two people are thrust into a situation where they have to work together to overcome some adversity together. If overcoming that adversity takes longer than a couple of hours and allows them to see the best and worst about each other and they are sexually attracted I see no reason why real love can't blossom.
When we date we do our best to ensure 'everything goes smoothly' and we try to show 'our best side'. We would be better off going on dates (my story idea--don't nick it) that involved some sort of struggle (like life) so we could better gauge the other person and ourselves. We all bring different things to the table and a good relationship is about recognizing that.
Well, I don't buy into that "they hate each other and fight and argue, then tumble into the sack" cliche. Besides being phony as hell, it's been worked to death.
How important is their actual relationship, and how long and how firm does it need to be? Suppose, say, they're at some event where alcohol is flowing freely and inhibitions are loosened. They could wind up together before either of them is sober enough to reconsider...
Well, you see it a lot less in books and movies and television than the other one...of course, you hardly ever see the consequences of either, either...
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You don't see consequences? Funny, I've seen a lot of books and movies where people get married or break up or get pregant or die of AIDS. Guess we see different movies and books.
I have read the one-night stand so often I'm sick of it in everything from Fear of Flying on down. It's pretty done. The arguing at least has some dynamics and the people have to know each other. I'd say hating each other is less likely, but disagreements are good. I like that kind of relationship.
It's a matter of personal preference. I think he'll have to decide for himself what works for his characters.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 03, 2007).]
Since I don't know what you have in mind, this is only a guess at what may be possible. Would it be possible to introduce the character as someone your character is already involved with and already in the midst of a developing relationship? Or perhaps they are getting back together after breaking up - or they have been friends for a long time and the relationship has taken a new turn - perhaps they really liked each other but both were afraid to make the first move.
[This message has been edited by nitewriter (edited December 03, 2007).]
If your "romantic connection" is relatively shallow, you can probably get away with it pretty easily. The passion would probably be high before they got to know each other with a lot of depth.
If you wanted them to really love each other, and for the reader to buy it, you will have to give the reader a little more. But it might not be all that hard. You could actually summarize some of the times they had (could be a relatively short time) and things they've shared and simply say that they began to fall deeply in love. I think most readers would by it. I might even say that this glossing over it is more effective than trying to show it.
If you wanted to spend some time developing the relationship, then you can have one of them lock on to some of the silly things about the other (including things he/she doesn't like) and obsess on them (maybe one is nicknamed "Drippy" and insists on being called that), and you can have them face situations that bring out a lot of real concern of one for the other. To make it work well, though, whether you summarize or spend some time with it, your main focus should not be *passion*. It's sort of counter-intuitive, but it's true.
As long as it isn't like the end of Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, where the male and female character showed no romantic interest in each other for the whole novel then jumped into bed at the end, just because they were male and female. Then he had to explain her away for The Da Vinci Code so there could be a proper love interest.
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JeanneT: "Casual sex" is an oxymoron. You see consequences if somebody's putting together a TV movie-of-the-week, but in many-if-not-most places that I see, there are none. Real life doesn't work that way even if TV shows do.
Now, if someone breezed into a relationship, say, getting as far as has been said above, it could develop in any number of ways, both towards true and intense romantic love or mutual hatred. It's how quick the writer wants it to move, at least as far as the story goes. If it goes further and longer, or comes to an abrupt end at some point beyond the end of the story, that's got to be done.
I don't see why love (or at least lust) can't happen at first sight. There's a famous bit in "Citizen Kane" where a character talks about seeing a girl, though she didn't see him, and not a week passes without him thinking of her, even though by that time he's quite old. I see this as a realistic description of a possible event (something of that sort did happen to me, before I even saw "Kane.") If the characters are bold enough to move further, to actual conversation, it could progress rapidly from there.
If you want them to truly fall in love and it be a forever love, I'll tell you my honest-to-goodness real-life story - maybe it will help you find a way to write your story.
During my senior year of college, I knew I wanted to move out of my parents' home when I got home from school (which was 500 miles away). I didn't have a serious boyfriend, I had no particular job prospects, I just knew I wanted to have my own place. There was an apartment complex next to my high school that I'd never really paid attention to (and I've never been one of those people who were really "attached" to their high school, so the school being next door wasn't part of this process). While I was in college in SC, I started dreaming (at night, not daydreams) that I lived in that particular apartment complex, and that when I drove up in my car, a tall young man with brown hair, broad shoulders and a sweet smile was washing a green Mustang. He lived in the same building I did, but we hadn't met before. I dreamed just that much, just us having a brief conversation on the steps while he was washing his car and I was on my way in, several times that fall. Dec. 20, I went to church on my first full day home for Christmas vacation and met the young man I'd been dreaming about (met him in Sunday School, not at the apartment complex). And it turned out he had a green Mustang and lived in exactly the building I dreamed he lived in! Nine days later (I swear to you this is true) we were engaged. We've been married (very happily too!) for 36 1/2 years now, and we celebrate two "anniversaries" a year - our wedding anniversary, and the anniversary of the day we met. And he's a very practical engineer, not what you'd think of as a "romantic" kind of person in any way (not a artist or a writer or an actor or anything like that - I have those bases covered in our relationship! LOL!).
So let one of your characters have a prophetic dream about the other - it does happen in real life!
Lynda, who will swear on a stack of Bibles that this is a true story - and those who knew us all those years ago will agree.
I too, believe that real love can begin almost instantly with the right kind of connection. Now, I say begin, because true, deep love cannot exist at first glance. However, true, deep love starts somewhere, and it often starts with a bang. The people involved genuinely feel like they are in love.
The first time I met my husband, we had a lightning strikes connection. There was so much chemistry between us, in our very first conversation. We couldn't stop talking to each other. It was like we were best friends trying to catch up after a long absense. When the chemistry didn't fade, day in and day out, we truly felt that we loved each other after only a month. And it was real love, obviously, because here we are, six years later and our dinners still get cold because we are too busy talking to each other.
So, it happens, Zero, but there has to be a real connection of your characters minds. An instant chemistry. And writing that believably will be some task. Good luck.
[This message has been edited by wrenbird (edited December 04, 2007).]
quote:"Casual sex" is an oxymoron. You see consequences if somebody's putting together a TV movie-of-the-week, but in many-if-not-most places that I see, there are none.
At the very least, it reduces a human being to an object to be used, which is certainly evil, and does have consequences that are emotional, psychological, and social. (But I certainly don't limit the consequences to that.)
I think writing that fails to show some kind of consequence from casual sex is generally flat and shallow. Even if you don't think it is a big deal, I think a well-developed writer who keeps his characters real will show some consequences--at least subtle ones.
Besides, if there are no consequences, why right about it at all?
quote:JeanneT: "Casual sex" is an oxymoron. You see consequences if somebody's putting together a TV movie-of-the-week, but in many-if-not-most places that I see, there are none. Real life doesn't work that way even if TV shows do.
Whether you liking it or not, casual sex happens. Like almost anything in life it may--or may not--have consequences. There are all kinds of things that people do that I am sure you highly disapprove of that may or may not particularly have consequences for the people involved.
Since I don't watch TV I wouldn't know about movies-of-the-week, thank you very much. But there are plenty of books and movies that show substantial depth in dealing with life. If you don't read or watch them, I don't know what to tell you.
However, just because someone does something that you consider so evil as (gasp) having casual sex, doesn't mean they are always horribly punished.
Edit: Great story, Lynda.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 04, 2007).]
I'm glad y'all liked my story! I think that story (and the life I've had as a result of it) influence what kind of people I want to write about. I simply don't have characters in my stories who would have casual sex. They're always committed to each other, whether they're married or not. I don't feel like writing about relationships that fall apart, or don't exist, possibly because mine is strong and healthy and I am well aware that my husband and I are rarities in today's world. I wish more people could have marriages like ours - maybe that's why I write the kind of people I do. They're people I'd like to be friends with (the good guys, anyway). And they're not perfect (then they'd be boring!). They have tempers, they make mistakes, they hurt people's feelings at times - but at heart, they're really good people, people I'd like to hang out with. Since I spend so much time with my characters, it's probably a good thing I enjoy the time I spend with them.
Oh, and Zero? The title for this thread sounds like a Wil Smith comedy (like "Hitch") - it could be a fun story if you wrote it right!
[This message has been edited by Lynda (edited December 04, 2007).]
Thanks everyone for your responses. I feel I should include more information so I can narrow the field a bit.
Onceandfutureme, I'm saying "the Bard" is cheesy as hell
OK, so we have there characters. Male A, Female B, and Male C, Male A is our MC so he will hence forth be called MC.
Female B thinks she knows MC from the past several years ago, her childhood, and she had the equivalent of a crush on him then. MC doesn't remember her, because she is mistaken they did not know each other. MC has recently met both of them, you might say they are all coworkers in an underground resistance-movement/faction. MC is first friends with Male C [henceforth called "Joe"] before Female B [henceforth called "Jane"] and discovers/suspects that Jane and Joe are engaged. Though all signs indicate this is not a happy engagement from her end.
At the moment MC is injured and "stationed" at a place where Jane lives, which allows them a lot of interaction over the next several pages. But in the near future 15 pages/(4-6 weeks) MC will be leaving for another city. [though he doesn't know it yet] And he'll leave Jane behind, though they will be reunited later.
What I want/need is for the MC and Jane to build a believable/meaningful relationship, or clear potential for one. And I want the reader to want MC to "hook up" with Jane, and to not want Joe to stay with Jane, despite their engagement to each other. During this, Joe makes infrequent visits but he's "deployed" locally so he cannot interfere more often than an hour or two per day.
quote:However, just because someone does something that you consider so evil as (gasp) having casual sex, doesn't mean they are always horribly punished.
In fact, it is entirely possible that those committing the most heinous of evil acts do not receive much in the way of punishment at all. However, most consequences do not occur as a matter of punishment, and it is not always those who commit the act who receive the worst of the consequences. (Though the damage to their own souls might be far worse than what they do to others.)
You're not giving much in the way of characterization. Why is Jane in a relationship that "isn't happy from her end"? Why does or would she stay in it? What does "not happy from her end" mean? If she isn't happy, why wouldn't she just break up with Joe? Why would the breaking up have to be from his end? And why is she just kind of hanging around instead of dispatched somewhere or doing some work?
There is nothing improbable about two people in a stressful situation building a relationship pretty quickly, but I think you need to have some basis for their getting acquainted besides a mistaken identity which should be cleared up in one paragraph.
Now I may be mistaken but you have Jane sounding like a typical love interest. I'd give her a role in the story beyond this and make her a real character.
If they are planning their future activities in this resistance, then they have a reason to spend time together. (Or come up with another plot related reason.) They can find out what they like and even what they don't like about each other. They can discover that chemistry that some people posted about. But she has to be a real character and not just a love interest for that to happen. If there is feeling and attraction between them that the reader really feels is there, then the reader WILL want them to get together.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 04, 2007).]
JeanneT seems to think I'm not on the same wavelength as she is about sex, but I think I am. "Sex" in real life is never "casual," and there are always "consequences."
MC/A shouldn't get try to get involved with FB/Jane, unless (a) he doesn't learn that FB/Jane and MC/Joe are engaged, or (b) he knows how broken down their relationship is. This assumes the character is "moral" enough to have qualms about interfering with a relationship and benefiting from it.
Shared membership in a resistance movement doesn't sound like a way to build a long-term relationship, much less any "engagement." Short-term, both might be inclined to grab what they can, if they can.
Oh, and mistaken identity seems a good way to get them talking...I think at least a page might be needed...she says aren't you somebody, he denies it, she tries to get him to remember something that happened at such-and-such a place, he denies ever having been there...she admints she was wrong, they both laugh it off, and voila! a relationship is started.
Seinfeld made sex pretty casual. By my definition of the word "casual."
Thanks for the comments Robert. I'm concerned that people will be put off by our MC getting involved with Jane who is engaged. But the "falling in love" is accidental, not calculated. And when it's done, it's done. Would you still be put off by, morally, a character who is in love with somebody engaged, and the feeling is mutual, and then trying to seek closure by getting Jane to choose once and for all?
[This message has been edited by Zero (edited December 04, 2007).]
I agree love can be quick, but I think it needs a catalyst. It needs something to make it believable. You know those TV shows where one character sees another and slow motion is used to indicate falling in love? I hate that. I'd much rather know what it was about the person that attracted them, other than a flip of luxurious blond hair.
Many years ago, a friend introduced me to a girl. We exchanged a few letters, and then she planned a vacation where I was at (Alaska). We were engaged three days after she arrived (ha! Beat your record, Lynda! Okay, maybe not if you count the letter-writing.) When she went home, I sold everything I owned except what could fit into two bags and a carry-on, and moved to be with her here--where she promptly broke up with me. I was stuck here with no job, no local friends, no car, etc.
The catalyst in that case was a broken heart. I had just been through some traumatic emotional territory. So had she. Ten years later, I'm glad it didn't work out. I stayed here and met a great lady, and we've been married for seven years now. She writes, too. Better than I do, in fact. (Its obvious to me now that it was the wrong choice from the beginning, but youth and love are often blind to common sense. It did put me in the right place, though.)
Maybe that'll help with the discussion, or maybe not. But it sure is fun to tell now that its in the distant past
[This message has been edited by lehollis (edited December 04, 2007).]
The boy-meets-girl-who-is-involved-with-other-boy is a fine plot, one we've all seen before but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it.
It's so tragic when we see two people falling for each other, but we know one is betrothed to someone else. It's a classic triangle, and it makes for really good reading, IMHO. People worry about what will happen, want the MC (who they presumably have been rooting for all along) to have happiness, but want the happiness not to come at the cost of cheating, or even breaking the heart of the other guy.
I mean, heck, Harry Potter/Cho/Cedric triangle of book 4, followed by Cedric's death and the eventual relationship in book 5, is just one example that many here would be familiar with.
I think the main point is, you have to get the other guy out of the picture without making your MC out to be the bad guy (nor the girl, the love interest, who people will want to root for too.) It is absolutely doable to have your two characters fall hopelessly in love in the passage of a few weeks time, as anecdotes here have indicated. The key in your case is that it probably needs to look/feel accidental. Having the two in close quarters a lot, needing to confer on things, have the MC realize he's looking forward to the contact, but have him justify it to himself that she's just a friend/close associate/he's doing this stuff to protect her/further the resistance/etc. Have the other guy come through once in a while and not exactly pick up on anything, be friendly to MC, have MC start to worry about that, ache. Do you switch POVs? If so, have the girl get confused or do similar self-rationalizations. She does, after all, need to protect her royal position, etc.
And at some point, they have a defining conversation. or not. She gives him a handkerchief...(Arthur/Guineviere/Lancelot, anyone? Have you read the Fionovar Tapestry Triology by Guy Gavriel Kay? He does an interesting play off that legend, and has the characters reach some sort of peace. It was odd, but interesting.)
A long long time ago, in my youth, I was dating guy A, but fell completely head over for his buddy B. The chemistry with buddy B was unbelievable, like nothing I had ever experienced. Being near him was enough to make my heart race. Before even meeting guy A, I had seen buddy B and he made my heart race back then, too. Because of the heart-stopping chemistry, it was clear to both buddy B and I that there was something, and we both wanted to pursue it.
We talked in the hall one time while a large group of us were at a concert. We hatched a plan. I'd break up with guy A. It wasn't serious. But, I wasn't a cheater, so the chronology had to be right. Then, a few weeks later, buddy B would tag along when his OTHER buddy (C) came to visit (he was dating my roommate.) You know, tag along just cause it was a long drive and he had nothing better to do that weekend. I counted the minutes til that time.
We had a whirlwind romance, a few months long, all of it with that almost unbearable chemistry. Then, smash. Over. Previous hurts, he was afraid, yadda yadda. But man, what a rush. Part of it was the "I'm dating your friend" illicit nature, but most of it was that crushing chemistry. Makes you do stupid things sometimes, but, well, all in good fun.
Years later, except for the part about dating his friend, I had a similar experience when meeting my now-husband. The chemistry was electric, right from the start, and I had seen him before even meeting and just knew I wanted to meet him/get to know him. It was only 3 weeks after we met before I knew, not that we'd be together forever, but that he was somebody pretty special. He laughs now because he told me on our second date that we'd be together a long time and I told him not to mess around with my head.
Seinfeld also, if press reports are to be believed, managed to steal a woman away from her husband just after she got back from her honeymoon---which strikes me, whatever the circumstances, as pretty low behavior. Something like that is hardly likely to build a character readers would care for. (Never much cared for the Seinfeld show, either.)
Another angle on this triangle is the danger of the situation they're in. MC/A could wind up putting MC/Joe in a situation that could lead to his death, and then benefit from it by getting FB/Jane. Or, later on, he could be accused of manipulating the situation to produce this result. Keeping a character sympathetic under that kind of situation would be tricky...
I think you have set up an interesting situation, Zero. If the reader is pulling for the MC, which I will assume, then they will be pulling for a good outcome for him when he falls in love.
Part of the background you didn't give is why this engagement isn't happy for her and why she doesn't just get out of it. That also might affect the way people feel. But not many people see breaking off an engagement as some kind of immoral act--why shouldn't or wouldn't she? They'll want her to. Nor is she an object to be stolen. She will, I think, be seen as having free will in the matter to be with the person she loves. I'd say just try throwing them together and see how they interact. If you build feeling between them, that would be enough.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited December 05, 2007).]