Writing Tips: Lovers

16 Jun

Writing Tips: Lovers

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The protagonist lover characters seem to follow these molds:

  • Gorgeous, mysterious, heart-striken male who cannot communicate his feelings until death is threatening separation, because of some past that has caused him to reject relationships in any form until he falls in love.
  • Stunningly pretty female who doesn’t seem to realize she’s beautiful, therefore causing her to be more desirable despite having no capabilities in regards to physical strength or mental strength. The only appealing part of them is their love and how they can support the male with their love.  

So I wanted to share three basic tips to deepening characters within their relationships, but the basic rule I follow is to show why they are uniquely beautiful in the inside and out to the narrator and to the reader. Let the “beautiful people” stand on their own beauty, let them define what “beauty” means to them, and create a beauty that is 3-D, that is rounded and deeply set inside of the characters’ hearts. This includes their unique features, gestures, speech, and more, but here are three examples:

1. Scars, injuries, birthmarks: 

Physical descriptions can, in fact, have a rounding out effect on a character, but these descriptions go beyond “brown hair and blue eyes.” For any character, scars and birthmarks can show a history written on their skin, but you can show this as an intimate thing between lovers. Maybe a lover is the only who has seen a scar or maybe everyone has seen it but the lover is the only one who knows the true story behind it. These little marks of history can be very telling. Someone may have beautiful eyes, but that time they fell out of a tree and broke their arm trying to save a cat tells about how caring they are of animals and others’ lives. It might even insinuate how they have a lack of fear of heights (or, perhaps, explain why they now do.)

Ex/ In November Snow, Daniel has a huge scar on his back, but no one knows what it is from until much later in the story. Serena isn’t the first to see it, but her curiosity about it showed a deeper concern for his past and health than other characters expressed toward him.

This reminded of Eric and Jessica from The Timely Death Trilogy.

This reminded of Eric and Jessica from The Timely Death Trilogy.

2. Gestures:

How do your loved ones show they love you? Think of the small things–the daily “How are you” can make all the difference. Maybe, in a time of danger, a lover would place a hand on the other to remind them they are present. It’s small, yet it tells so much. It says, “I am here. I am listening, and I’m aware that you are, too. I am here for you.” There is an endless streak of gestures – big and small – that people do to show how much they care, and gestures are a great way to define emotions in a relationship between people.

Ex/ In Seconds Before Sunrise, Eric automatically makes Jessica tea without asking her if she wants some or if she likes it. He already knows she does, but a part of him does this without even thinking about it because it comes naturally to him.

 3. Speech: 

Choose their conversations carefully. It seems to me, in young-adult especially, the characters are undyingly in love, yet they never have a conversation about their feelings, insecurities, and/or questions. They never ask the other what the other is thinking. I’m not saying that your characters necessarily have to do this literally. (Ex/ “Do you love me?”) I get it. There is normally a sense of tension in novels, so discussing love is removed for many reasons, so you don’t have to have a discussion about love, but let the lovers have deeper conversations. (Ex/ life, hobbies, past memories, etc.) Most characters – like people – will talk out loud, and choosing what characters discuss can define relationships early on – it may even define their relationship before they even realize they have one.

Ex/ In Minutes Before Sunset, in their human identities, Eric talks to Jessica without even realizing he is opening up about topics he doesn’t discuss with other people. He doesn’t act like it’s a big deal, but Jessica isn’t sure what to say because she realizes he doesn’t talk about it. On the contrast, Jessica tells Eric how she doesn’t like opening up to people. Ironically, admitting that to him was her way of opening up. She doesn’t admit this to anyone else. But in their shade identities, they both open up fairly quickly. Going back and forth between the two identities, their discussions become the main growing aspect of their relationship.

These are only three places to start, but there are endless possibilities to round out characters and their relationships with one another (lovers or not.) A great question for aspiring writers to contemplate is who their favorite book relationship included and why. Write down a list and figure out how to incorporate unique ways into your own stories.

How do you round out relationships? Who are your favorite lovers? Why? And if you’re feeling extra open, have you ever used real life inspiration for a fictional character’s love interest?

~SAT

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10 Responses to “Writing Tips: Lovers”

  1. Charles Yallowitz June 16, 2014 at 6:44 am #

    I write fantasy adventures where it seems a romantic plotline is routinely met with complaints. Still, I think they work to give a character depth and an actual life that can continue beyond the adventure. Barring the typical death, corruption, betrayal, and dragons. I do like the whole thing with scars and birthmarks. Something about a character running a finger around the scar of a lover seems a lot more intimate than them laying in bed talking. Almost like a connection between the good of life (love) and the bad (injury/pain).

    • Shannon A Thompson June 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

      I believe every romance is met with judgement – kind of like my last post on female and make characters. I’ve seen romances I’ve loved torn apart and been confused by readers enjoying other romances. But I think that’s a good sign: it shows how much love varies from couple to couple, and that gives a lot more wiggle room for deepening characters. I think it’s kind of funny when people want a story with no romance in even the side plots, when you can’t go anywhere in the world without ads trying to sell love and lust. Thanks for continuing the conversation!
      ~SAT

      • Charles Yallowitz June 16, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

        I know what you mean about some readers enjoying one relationship and hating others. Even friendships get odd judgements. If the characters get ‘too close’ then you hear some strange responses. I guess it boils down to personal preference, which means the author can only buckle down and continue with the story as they see it.

  2. Harliqueen June 16, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    Absolutely brilliant post and tips, thanks for sharing this :) Gave me some things to think of.

  3. Bethany Hatheway June 16, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Thank you for reminding me about a scene I want to add somewhere in my novel! :p
    My favorite romance has to be in Juliet Marillier’s Heart’s Blood. I loved both of the characters and it was such a well-written book. It’s one of my favorites.

    • Shannon A Thompson June 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

      I’m glad that I could be a reminder. :) I will have to check out that novel. Thanks for commenting.
      ~SAT

  4. Carol Balawyder August 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    This was very informative and an excellent way to showcase your writing. :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. June’s Ketchup | Shannon A Thompson - June 30, 2014

    […] Writing Tips: Lovers: Love should be as complex and deep as your characters. […]

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