And why it’s terrible in movies.
Romance, more than anything, must have emotional justification. Why does A love B? Is it because A is female and B is male? That is not justification. That is a projection of our expectations that has been shoehorned into the story, thereby destroying the characters’ believability.
Another thing that romance needs is danger. Your main character, Miss A, has just entered a pretty crazy world of Act Two, and her head is spinning a bit. Enter Mr. B, who is at least very momentarily able to stop her head spinning and ground her in this new world. She now depends on him in some degree to help her understand or overcome the dangers of this new world of Act Two. Notice she isn’t romantically attracted to him just yet because we haven’t emotionally justified any romance. She could be deceiving him and using him for information about this new world and not love him at all. That is why, if we are to write romance into our story, Miss A must find emotional value in Mr. B in order to justify a romance…
Emotional justification can range from familiarity in an unfamiliar new world, to wearing a scarf that reminds them of a parent, or even they like the same weird thing that the first character likes and making them feel not so lonely inside their own brains. They don’t have to be complex reasons, just impactful for the character and a reflection of them in some way.
B is a very hot, and A is the main character. IT’S DESTINY.
No. That is not how characters do romance. That is how immature teenage boys pursue teenage girls, and we love those teenage boy characters when they are driven by this lust because they say to themselves that they are in love, but we the audience know better. (Make the boy a girl for 2x laughs, because girls lusting is funny? Well, it worked in How To Train Your Dragon 2.)
IT ACTUALLY IS DESTINY.
OK. So your characters are fated to be together. Boooring. Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to avoid using predetermination altogether, but if you do use it, keep that stuff away from the viewer/reader until we’ve establish at least a small bond between the characters. Knowing from the start that these two are going to be romantically involved removes the danger from the relationship. B could very well reject A! We know he usually doesn’t, but the possibility adds a subconscious level of suspense. Taking that suspense away will make your romance BOOORING.
Miss A needs a man and Mr. B is just her type.
Again, romance must be emotionally justified. This means that two individual characters mutually rely on each other because without the other person, they would feel lonely and desperate in the strange new world they have found themselves. If it is a love plot in your story, then perhaps they are going through the process of learning that they can rely on each other.
A tricked B, and B was so dazzled by her deception that he swooned into her arms.
If you’re writing romance, always consider the element of trust between your two characters. They must either be in the process of learning to trust each other, or have fallen from trust and are working to rebuild it. Deception and trickery is poison to trust, and can be good, easy drama, but be careful how you write it.
If A is going to trick B, she better have a very good reason for doing so, and heartfelt apologies must follow because for deception to be dramatic and impactful, we will have already built up enough trust to break, in which case Miss A already deeply values this person, Mr. B, and she will seek to reconcile with him. Or perhaps she wants to reconcile, and we see that, but she is too afraid of what may happen when she is faced with the consequences.
And B must question her trustworthiness once he uncovers the game. Trust is the most important commodity in romance plots, and we must convey emotional impact when it is established and when it is broken.
Now her deception doesn’t need to be logical. She may have committed a heinous crime. She may have lied to him when logically she could have just explained. But she must always have a very good emotional reason for her deception. This is a sin that B must take time to consider, because he too has come to value this woman deeply. He might brush her off if there isn’t enough trust built, but since we have given them solid emotional reasons for trusting each other, he won’t deny her completely.
In conclusion, to make your romances believable, there must be actual love. Love comes from trust and enacting emotional knowledge of another person to either their benefit, or the benefit of them both. To make your romances exciting for the viewer, you must take that love away, or threaten to take that love away. Or you may have characters who are already romantically involved, in which case, demonstrate their individuality as well as their love-trust paradigm, and then put those characters in danger.
One final note: Just because your characters love each other, doesn’t necessitate romance. A boy and a girl could be very good friends and romance has nothing to do with it. They have their own paradigm of love and trust, but you won’t see them snogging in the hallways. Sometimes it’s better to leave romance out of it. Or maybe romance can be interesting. I leave it to you to judge.
Happy writing, friends.
"I’ve become skeptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where they two mutually inspire each other to live– if I’m able to, then perhaps I’ll be closer to portraying a true expression of love."
When a humanoid dinosaur stows away on a hijacked spaceship, he must claw his way through furtive government operatives, illegal information cyborgs, and deadly space vikings to uncover the wreckage—and truth—behind his wife’s tragic disappearance.
(Spoiler: She died in space because of reasons.)
Pitching mysteries in logline form is tricky, because when you pitch it, you always have to add on a lame sentence at the end that explains the mystery to a producer/reader, and you have to add that lame sentence on the end because the solution to the mystery can make or break the story, and it’s important if you’re asking people to help make your story into a film that they know what the heck is going on.
Mysteries, or Whydunnits, ask the question of human morality. What interesting pathologies can be explored in a mystery? What dark caverns of the human (or non-human) heart can we unlock through our mysteries? While the Final Door (solution to the mystery) doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, it should at least stretch the mind of the “detective” of the story.
Good luck, detectives. Don’t forget to stain your rabbit tail.
I just want to art, but I feel like there’s no time to art, not when things are so lame around here.