Anonymous said: So as my favourite author you were the first person I thought to ask this. I'm having trouble with character development of this couple that I write about, they never are really "together" but because she won't commit they seperate and move on. A few years later they meet up again after their other previous realtionships have failed. How would you write their friendship growing back into a relationship?
Wow thank you for the vote of confidence! So I will start by saying it does depend on the characters, but in general here are my thoughts:
(I’m going to call the other party ‘he’ just to make it clear which person I’m talking about)
It sounds like your female character here has a lot of commitment issues, (obviously), so what you want to make sure you express is how she’s changed since her first separation from your other character. It sounds like he was alright-ish, or more willing to commit, so you have less to worry about there.
The big things to establish are sort of how the intervening years have changed your characters, and how they have especially made her more willing to commit or why he still is carrying a torch for this other character.
There are a few tactics to take about how I would bring them together in the ‘now’ time but I’m thinking.
- You need to establish them as friends again. How are they integrating into each other’s lives, how does it feel to have this person back? Does it start as just friendship or is a torch still being carried on one (or both?) side?
- Make them fall into a mix of old and new patterns. How is this like when they were semi-dating? how is it different? Make parts of it different <- this is very important as it will show how this time is different for them.
- Leave part of the relationship as friendship, but add little bits here and there that show how they’ve also come to rely on each other in a romantic context while also remaining friends.
- Who becomes aware of their feelings first? Your female character? Or your male character? If the girl, you’ll probably want to show how she’s changed, mentally, to be willing to commit this time. If the male, you might want to focus on his confusion or a return of his hopelessness that he’s fallen into the same patterns again and yet believes that his not-quite-ex-gf will continue to not be ready for him.
- If the girl’s the one who twigs to the romance first, she should be looking to prove herself as willing to commit, maybe talking about her future, her desires and goals. If the boy, he should be looking for ways to assure her that he’s not going to push things that made her uncomfortable last time.
Depending on what genre you are going for (e.g. drama, romcom, comedy, relationship in the midst of action) will probably determine how this all comes together.
A drama or action w/ romance you’ll probably want them to have that Moment where something bubbles over and they finally make that push, that ‘damn it I love you again and I want you’ and that resolves well, or maybe with explosions in the background depending on what else is going on.
If you’re going for romcom/comedy you’re going to want to play up the misunderstandings between them as they try and fail to actually express their feelings while the other is seeing something else, perhaps thinking they are looking at another romantic partner or just using them as a bro-friend.
It sounds like you want a slower relationship build, of sorts, here. Your lady character needs to prove to herself - and maybe also the boy - that she’s ready for this relationship now, that she’s moved beyond her commitment doubts, and that she loves him. He needs to assuage these doubts.
Obviously this can be different depending on the character personalities, she might be more gruff about it, or not quite as emotionally aware as I’ve described her up top. If so, sort of leave it in the background as she becomes more attached to boy. Try to convey her maturity not through actual reflection, but through actions. Maybe boy is super wary about falling all over again, show him slowly opening up, mentally, emotionally, and suddenly surprised how attached he is to girl again.
Hopefully this helps! It’s more generic advice, and you’ll need to tool it to your characters’ personalities, but hopefully the rough outline will allow you to plot the character beats that can get them back together to their happily ever after!