How I Write Relationships


A fellow blogger’s post* about struggling with writing a relationship in her story got me thinking about the method I use. I have never really put the concept into words before. Read it. Love it. Hate it. Amend it. Trump it.

In relationship arcs, just as in great dialogue, I think of the two players as each continually trying to “one up” each other. I’m not talking about competition or fighting–but tension in the context of every interaction within the scope of their relationship.

Is one partner attempting to be sweet? Then the other can’t be equally sweet. S/he has to be even sweeter, or go the other route and be unaccepting/an asshole/not ‘get’ the sentiment. The players switch roles at times. They must always remain ‘in character’, but this push and pull where they hardly ever respond in like kind is the source of tension that keeps the romantic element from feeling stale/bland.

Replace “sweet” with any other action/emotion/motivation: passionate, angry, frisky, distant, etc. I try to keep the characters at odds with one another in varying levels from ‘almost on the same page’ to ‘opposite ends of the emotional spectrum’. Every now and then I allow them to actually line up–but those moments are few and far between. The climax–of course–is where my characters find the penultimate level of connection (or repulsion!).

Think about your favorite love stories. The tension of the two hearts not aligning–the unmet desire–is [most likely] the reason you find those stories so touching and worth watching/reading.

I’m no expert, but this is the method I use to infuse my characters’ relationships with flavor and fire.

How do you ‘write’ relationships?


*The post that inspired me to put my own method into words:

Poem: Loveliness


Nine finger Nanny looks at me with her lazy eye
I think
Then she flips me the bird
With that one finger that isn’t there

She’d be able to pick out my lisp
If I hadn’t swallowed my tongue last night
Of course, the deafness in her left ear
Keeps her from hearing half of what I try to say anyway

She hobbles along next to my wheelchair
As we stroll down the beach
Prosthetic hand in prosthetic hand
In the sand

She stops at least 9 times to dance on her one good leg
‘Cause she has to pee so badly
It’s been an issue ever since she sold that kidney
To buy me a valentine

Just as she sets out to recite
A love poem from memory
Her chronic amnesia kicks in – Again
A sobbing mess, she slumps to the ground

So I slide out of my seat
And plop down next to my sandy Nanny
As she pees her pants
And the waves lap up our loveliness