Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Writing Romantic Conflict Part 3: Guilty Pleasure Relationship Conflict

Alright, Tuesday I talked about trash relationship conflicts, which was coming on the heels of good relationship dramas parts one and two. Today I'm going to talk about some of my guilty pleasure romantic conflicts. Ones that have their problems, but for whatever reason I just can't get enough of them anyway.

Try not to judge me too hard, okay? ;)

[Spoilers for Moulin Rouge and Fairy Tail ahead.]

One Of Them is Already in a Relationship
(That They Did Choose for Themselves)

Alright listen, I hear people complaining a lot about stories in which one party is cheating on an SO, and you know what? Yeah, that's a problem. But sometimes you're in a relationship and you fall in love with someone else. That's a thing that happens and pretending that it doesn't or that someone is a bad person when it does is a little silly.

People grow apart. People separate. And yeah, being with someone while you're with someone else and haven't broken it off with them yet is a mess. But watching someone try to stay faithful while they're slowly falling in love with someone else is just juicy and it's great.

They're Step-Siblings

It's not incest, but you get that incest stigma without actually having to delve into anything squicky. That is a very valid reason to have to fight it and not want anyone to know, but it's not so bad that I feel bad shipping it.

There's a Villain Mind-Controlling one of the Characters to Go Astray

I don't necessarily mean in an unfaithful way, and mind control has it's own level of squick, but I'm just a sucker for one character making the other believe they don't love them and like, screaming from the inside while this is going on.

I'm going to be honest, my husband and I have a sign-countersign pass code in case of just this situation, but most people don't do that and it's delicious. And it makes me really hate the villain.

There's a Villain Blackmailing one of the Characters to Go Astray

Confession: I love Moulin Rouge. Okay that's not really a confession. I'm not ashamed to admit that I love Moulin Rouge. But one of the best moments in the movie was when Satine found out she was dying and had to convince Christian that she didn't love him, it was great. It wasn't exactly blackmail, but it was damn close.

There's a certain kind of story that this works in, of course. You don't spring it in the middle of an action adventure because  the love story isn't usually that important. So in a story where the love story is important, this is a viable conflict to go with. Especially if it's dropped by, like, a romantic rival or something.

"I'll tell him you're a spy if you don't break it off with him."

Yeah, I know, it's so hokey but I love it.

There's Something Toxic in the Relationship but One Character Learns Their Lesson

Unpopular opinion: It's okay for one character to be toxic in the beginning as long as they learn better and take their lumps for it. Stalking is problematic. Manipulation is problematic. There are some things that just can't be excused even if the character in question gets better, but the stakes of the setting do matter and in this case the kind of story it is matters, too.

For example, Gajeel nailed Levy to a tree. But Fairy Tail is a shounen anime/manga and extreme injuries happen to everyone. Being nailed to a tree is not nearly as big a deal in the context of this anime as it is in real life, and Gajeel does get better.

It isn't the problematic behavior that's the problem. It's acting like the problematic behavior is okay. In fact, I'd argue that it's important to show these things happening candidly, and even sometimes recovering from them, but it's also incredibly important to acknowledge them as problems.

One of Them is A Predatory Species (Like a Vampire) and the Other is Low Key Afraid of Them

A little bit of fear is sexy. A little bit of fear is the fantasy. A lot of fear is an actual nightmare. I'm not exactly sure where the line is, but I shipped the hell out of Nick and Judy in Zootopia. Okay, that part was a joke (not the shipping but the 'little bit of fear'; there wasn't a second in that movie I thought he might actually hurt her).

There's a lot that comes with this predator and prey dynamic: Terror, defiance, mistrust. Simply being what they are comes with a lot of baggage and a lot of potential conflict and I have to imagine that's part of what makes the whole paranormal romance genre so popular.

It also counts if it's not an actual predator in question, but like...a mobster or something. Someone who has a tendency to act in a violent way.

Alright, that's all I've got for romantic conflict for right now. This was really fun to write, though, I am a massive sucker for romance.

Fortune Favors,
Megan R. Miller

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