You Had Me at Character Development: The Romance Post

So, the next on the list of voter-chosen posts is romance.


One of the reasons I included it as a potential topic is that I have serious trouble putting together a decent romance that’s cohesive, logical(if romances count as logical), and still fun to read. They’re a pain, to be honest. Hence why I need to work on them.

I’ll try to do what I did with the villain post last week and list a favorite fictional couple with each point. However, there really aren’t that many fictional couples I’m crazy about, so no guarantees.

1. Flynn Carsen and Simone Renoir–A good couple is balanced.

The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice

The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In one of my favorite movies, The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice (Yes, I’m aware that it’s a corny Indiana Jones parody–that’s why it’s awesome), the hero and heroine are thrown together by a series of events that would sound entirely ridiculous if I tried to summarize them. So I won’t. Go watch the movie. The characters themselves are a) a burnt-out genius who safeguards the world’s most dangerous artifacts and b) a 400 year-old vampire who safeguards the key to unspeakable power,  and despite how it sounds, they actually fit together quite well.

As a couple, they are very well balanced. Simone is immensely powerful, but Flynn is brilliant. Flynn is awkward, but Simone is confident. This cuts out the risk of Lois Lane syndrome and makes for a fun story because both characters have complimentary strengths and weaknesses. In fact, the only problem I have with them as a couple is the speed with which they became one. Two days, guys? Really?

In writing your own romances(especially if it’s in first-person), it’s easy for one character to become the focus–they end doing all the thinking, all the rescuing, and heroically solving all the problems. That isn’t good reading, regardless of whether it’s the hero or the heroine. Balance is key.

2. Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley–A good couple doesn’t always get along.

Jeremy Northam as George Knightley in the 1996...

Jeremy Northam as George Knightley in the 1996 American film adaptation of Emma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s get one thing straight right now–outside of Emma, I…well…I don’t want to say hate, but that’s pretty close to what I feel about Jane Austen’s work. There’s just so much talking and dancing and discussion of feelings and…ugh. I tend to prefer explosions and murder over tea and country walks.

That said, I did enjoy Emma, partially because of the good romance. As a couple, Emma and Knightley (more on his part than hers, which was a bit irksome) spent most of the book bickering about one thing or another.

The fact is, no couple gets along all the time, regardless of how much they love each other. That’s something to keep in mind when writing couples. They’re going to have their disagreements and said disagreements will be unique to each couple. Some will have soft, quiet arguments, some give each other a week-long silent treatment, others go for broke and start throwing things–but they all have their moments.

3. Carl and Ellie–A good couple takes time.

I think the first twenty minutes of Up contains one of the sweetest, most well-crafted romances in animated film history. It hits all the high points of a fifty or sixty year relationship and shows the growth of said relationship from playmate to best friend to significant other to spouse. In other words, it takes its time.

Carl & Ellie

Carl & Ellie (Photo credit: dr.chesed)

Too-quick romances are one of the things that usually trip me up when I’m attempting to weave a little sweetness into a story. Since I know they’re going to end up together, it’s incredibly easy to forget that the audience doesn’t know the characters or their motivations or their reasons for getting together nearly as  well as I do, and just shove them together within ten pages. All done! Back to the fun stuff! Yay!

That doesn’t work, sadly.

To really connect with the characters and to root for their relationship, your readers need to see the development of their friendship and their feelings. I realize that different couples move at different speeds, and you can feasibly have one head-over-heels within a week whereas another one can date for a decade, but there still needs to be development of some kind. Otherwise, your poor readers are simply going to be confused.

4. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark–A good couple needs chemistry.

In this case, the example couple is there to show what not to do. In my opinion, at least, there was no chemistry in their relationship. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of The Hunger Games, but I just couldn’t see it. (Frankly, I’m more Team Gale.)

The Hunger Games (film)

The Hunger Games (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regardless of how much it seems like two characters should fit together as a couple, there are times when they just…don’t. No matter what you do, what situations you write them into, they can be ridiculously stubborn little beasts and absolutely refuse to fall in love. It can’t be helped. So don’t try to force it! If a couple has no chemistry, try something else.

Next Post: Hunger Games Review

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “You Had Me at Character Development: The Romance Post

  1. Excellent post! I’m completely with you on the Katniss/Peeta thing. I’m looking forward to your Hunger Games review post, too.

  2. Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way. 🙂 The post should be up by this weekend!

  3. Wow, you really detest Peeta/Katniss, don’t you.

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