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: http://alphabeticallyinclined.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/the-hardest-thing-is-a-good-kiss/