I wanted to bring back topical talk, and what better place to start than relationships between main leads in storytelling.
Topical Talk: Lead Relationships
I decided to structure each of my points into things I wanted authors to do when looking at relationships between their leads, and things I didn’t want them to do. It was interesting to create this list as they’re all things I’m working on within my own writing.
DON’T. Overuse or rely on love triangles. This is something that will seriously put me off reading young adult. I think Twilight brought it into mainstream popularity (don’t get started on the unhealthiness of Bella and Jacob) but other writers have taken the concept and will run with it in every. single. young adult romance. There is only two acceptable love triangles I will ever respect: the Vampire Diaries and The Infernal Devices. I’ve ranted about love triangles before, and it comes down to this: in order for a love triangle to work, all three points of the triangle need to deeply care about each other (either romantically or non-romantically). Both of these examples adhere to this requirement and invest the reader in the characters before the love triangle starts… but, mostly, don’t.
DON’T. Rely on the male lead to support the female lead. Display some balance. If you’re going to have the player-stereotype and innocent naive girl, I expect some serious progression on both sides throughout the novel. If you want an example of how to do this, consider the Iron Man films – Tony Stark and Pepper Pots. The relationship doesn’t need to be (shouldn’t, even) be perfect but it should have balance.
DON’T. Stick to white, cookie cutter heterosexual relationships. Consider forming characters who are gay, lesbian, bi, or on the asexual/aromantic spectrum. Consider trans characters, consider women of colour, men of colour, experiment with looking at characters who are different. Just think about it and see where the inspiration takes you, even if the thought of writing something different terrifies you.
DO. Mess with the reader’s heartstrings. See example: Jace and Clary, The Mortal Instruments. Remaining strictly spoiler free, all I’ll say is that The Mortal Instruments is the definitely of an emotional rollercoaster in terms of their relationship – from start to finish. If you know, you know.
DO. Go for the slow-burn if it is more appropriate to the novel. See example: Gamora & Peter Quill. I’ll remain spoiler free for those of you who haven’t seen volume 2 yet but in general I love the way the entire film structured family first, and the idea of an ‘unspoken thing’ – I really appreciate it.
What do you think about relationships between main characters in books? Are there any examples you love or hate? Let me know in the comments!
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