Welcome back to yet another session of me realizing something I've been doing wrong for years. I think I need to go back and tag these entries, maybe put them into a little collection so people can learn from me screwing up over and over. :P
I was making another attempt to get caught up on Writing Excuses this past week, and listening to an episode (number thirty-six from last year) about relationships. I was paying particular attention to this episode, as I've written a lot of relationships over the years, and the general feedback I've received is that I write them well.
Yeah, maybe not.
One of the aspects of writing a relationship that the podcast talked about was the need for a conflict that works against the people who might be getting together, something to give the reader that heart-clenching feeling as it looks like things might not work out. The idea is to get the readers invested in what's happening between these people so they care about whether things work out or not, and then yank that out from under them.
I have written fifteen books, about two-thirds of which have some sort of romantic relationship. And I don't think I have ever done this.
It made perfect sense when I heard it. And it hit me like a truck. While I like writing relationships, I'm not a fan of relationship DRAMA - I like it when things work out for people, when they get together over the course of the story and all that. As I made pretty damn clear two entries ago, I like my happy endings. But by pursuing that, I have repeatedly failed to give my would-be couples much to stand against them besides their own awkwardness.
To get a little deeper, I know where this comes from - I just plain like the idea of relationships working out well. My parents got divorced when I was a kid, I've been single for centuries, and I can count the relationships I have had on one hand. So there are some serious aspects of wish fulfillment here; I know this and I accept it. But because of all that, the idea of using the story, the world, and the plot to drive my characters apart and force them to find a way to still get together somehow never occurred to me.
It's kind of a sobering thing to realize, to see that I was holding myself back like that.
I know that this doesn't have to apply to all relationships, especially those that are established when the story begins; I'm not going to delve into more STARWIND rewrites to wring some relationship drama out of Kris and Sarai. And this doesn't mean I'm suddenly going to start writing stuff where the relationship itself is the story; I think I'd be bored to tears without something else going on. But going forward, I know I'm going to look for opportunities to cause even more trouble for any characters who might be moving toward getting together. I've already started on that in my current plot-in-progress.
Granted, working on that story is like trying to carve something out of stone while constantly ducking away to make sure the stone didn't notice, so who knows how it's actually going to turn out, or if it even is. -_-
I'm curious to know what y'all think about this, since I know many of you are a lot meaner to your characters than I've ever managed to be.
Next week: IWSG. It might be just one extended whining session, but we'll see.