character relationships

by Marissa

Question: In my book series the main main character is introduced in the second book and she has a boyfriend but they break up in either the second or third book probably the third but I haven't decided yet and another character is introduced and he's her ex and they still have feelings for each other but then at the end of the book he leaves and then at the very end of the fourth book he comes back and he's in the rest of the series and in the sixth they start admitting their feelings and are sort of together but at the end of the seventh one they're officially together. There's no love triangle stuff between them they have so much more to deal with and as great as love triangles are they are being done so much and it just gets old after awhile. Look at the vampires. Am right? So my question is that ok to introduce the main character's main love interest in the third book then take him out of one book and not bring him back until the end of that book and keeping him the rest of the series? That's the way my story works best with him but I know that in most books that the character meets their love interest in the first book and they get together at the end of that book or at the end of the series. So I know mine's pretty different when it comes to that because I've never read a book where that's happened. So is that ok for my book or is that to different? Has it ever been done before? If it hasn't would it be good because it's something new and original?


Answer: Well, Marissa, I think you get the prize for the longest sentence ever submitted in a question on this site. :)

All good-natured teasing aside...

The general pattern for a relationship arc is similar to any other dramatic arc...

setup --> complication --> crisis --> resolution

In a romance, the setup is the event that establishes the relationship (how they relate to each other). The complication may be a deepening of the relationship or problems arising (such as a triangle). The crisis is often called the "black moment." It's the point in the story where the relationship seems irreconcilably doomed. This may be because of separation, trickery/error, or a falling out between the two lovers. (For example, in The Hunger Games it occurs when Peeta saves Katniss from Cato and is mortally wounded.) The resolution (in a successful romance) occurs when the lovers realize their true love for each other. (Or not, in Katniss's case.)

So to answer your question... having the love interest disappear for a time might be the black moment, with the resolution when he comes back.

Of course, the reason relationships tend to be resolved at the end of a story (or series) is because the courtship is their story. Once they are together, you might have another plot concerning them, but it's not the courtship anymore.

However, there's no problem. In a series, the entire courtship might be just one event/act/stage in an even bigger relationship arc. If the love interest is the impact character (which would be typical) the mantle might be passed to other characters in other parts of the series, provided they all served the same role of pressuring the main character to grow.

You're not obliged to make the love interest the impact character, that's just a common choice because men and women often see certain things differently so they can offer their partner a different point of view.

You're also not obligated to create a love triangle. That's just one possible complication for the relationship. Other possibilities exist.

Incidentally, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is a story in which the lovers get together in the middle. But that's not the end because the guy has one other test, one other thing to learn before he is truly accepted by the girl. (He has to learn not to take risks with things that truly matter--i.e. his relationship to her.)

Comments for character relationships

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Apr 17, 2014
Thank you
by: Marissa

Thank you. That helped. Also I don't know why I do it but I always seem to write long sentences I don't how but it just happens.

Apr 17, 2014
Re: Character Relationships
by: Todd Rogers

In reading this question and the answer given, I kept returning, in my mind, to Star Trek: The Next Generation, whereby this scenario played out over 7 seasons on the show until finally the pair end up together as they always knew they would be.

I am speaking, of course, of the relationship of Enterprise First Officer William Riker and the (then) Ship's Counselor, Deanna Troi.

They had a personal relationship before being assigned to The Enterprise in the very first episode, "Encounter At Farpoint".

Their prior romance, their burgeoning friendship, experiencing life and death together over years bringing them together, forcing them apart, and then back together, again.

Deanna had relationships with Worf, the Tactical Officer for awhile, as well as a couple of other men that ended up dying for the most part.

But the romantic relationship does play a big part in their overall story arc.

They get married, finally, in the movie, "Nemesis".

I would suggest reading the Star Trek Book, "Imzadi" and "Imzadi II".

As you might or might not know, "Imzadi" was the term that Riker and Troi used for each other like a pet name.

It's Betazoid for "beloved".

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