“Is he mad?”
“Yes. He’s in love.”
– Robin Hood
For someone who has never actually been in love with anyone, I tend to write about love a lot. It’s something that fascinates me, and being a healthy eighteen-year-old girl, I think a dash of romance adds a lot to a story. However, no two characters love the same. I did a post awhile back on two different literary couples of mine that talked a little bit about this, but today I want to talk about how different characters love.
Love does things to people. It makes you want to be your best self around the person you love. You want to be as attractive as possible to them, you want to be there for them, you want to be with them constantly. You do things you would never do otherwise, you think about them, and you would do anything for them. Needless to say, this is a very complicated thing to write about and, having read more books than I can count, it’s frequently mishandled.
There is no such thing as insta-love. Insta-lust, maybe. But true, lasting, heartfelt love does not happen the first moment you lay eyes on someone. There’s no ‘ZING! I’M IN LOVE NOW!’ It’s a process, not a shot of caffeine. (Now, I’m actually not against love stories where character A sees character B and instantly knows something’s up and they have to meet them. I find them adorable). And every person has a different way of showing their love for someone else. Just look at Jane Austen’s novels. From Pride and Prejudice to Northanger Abbey, every one of her couples was different. (It’s a blog post on love. Did you really think I wouldn’t mention Jane?)
For some people, romance is candlelit dinners, soft music, and wine. (I personally don’t find this romantic, but a lot of people do.) For others, it’s holding hands while taking walks, running through the rain, and watching the stars at night. (This is my idea of romantic. My ideal proposal is at night, lying on the grass, watching the stars – a meteor shower would be a bonus.) For some it’s going to exotic places, mountain-climbing and doing other wacky things (I don’t personally know anyone who does this, for the record).
So every couple is different. I know several couples very well. My oldest sisters are married, my brother is engaged and of course, there are my parents. They’re all very different, and it’s fun to watch, really. I stayed up very late last night, unable to sleep, and read ‘Dreamland’ by Sarah Dessen. I’d heard that author’s name sung to high heavens with praise for so long that awhile back, I bought a book of hers. I liked it. She captured the quirky dynamics of a real couple. They weren’t cardboard. So I read her now and then – Dreamland was extremely good (My main problem with Sarah’s novels is the language. Every character is different, so some won’t swear at all and others will. Also, they aren’t for younger readers as sometimes more…hem, intimate relations are implied. Think Nicholas Sparks for teenagers). If you’re older and want to know how to deal with couples that are completely different, then I recommend her books.
But a failing I notice among a lot of novel writers is that their couples will all show signs of similarity. Or the couples have no growth at all whatsoever. Or there is so much miscommunication that I want to throw the book across the room. I’m not a perfect couple-writer, but I think I’ve noticed a lot of mistakes that other writers (*cough*StephanyMeyer*cough) make with their couples, and it’s helped me steer clear of them.
Usually when I begin a book, I have a vague idea of where the couple will end up. They may be together, or they may not. They may find someone else, they may have an adorable relationship or a rocky one or maybe both. Whatever it is, keep every couple’s differences in mind and make them all different and interesting.
Some people show love with tenderness. They’re the sort to surprise their girl with roses, or their man with their favorite food. Some people show it with being protective (this is usually a male tendency, though). Some people fight and tease each other as a sign of affection.
In Unforget, Moon falls for Cayne long before he even notices her (or knows she’s older than fifteen). She shows it by worrying about him constantly (a valid concern, since he’s always getting himself into dangerous situations and being hurt, even if he comes out on top) and giving him ‘tough love.’ Once he starts to care for Moon (though honestly I don’t know if he falls in love with her or not; he hasn’t made up his mind) he shows it by protecting her and putting up with her sharp tongue. They’re frequently furious at each other, but Cayne’s tender side begins to show more and more often the more he cares for Moon. (I love these two.)
What will you do with your couple? Whatever it is, make your couple one that will be remembered by the reader long after they finish the book.