Monday, April 30, 2012

"It's Complicated"

The other day, I sort of flinched a little bit at calling one of the characters from my querying MS another one's "boyfriend." I mean, Elias *is* Merrin's boyfriend, but he's so much more than that. Their relationship is so special, and so unique. Their attraction is so different from anyone else's, you know, on a cellular level. And so he's not just her boyfriend, he's this other thing to her as well, and it's kind of difficult to explain, but it's one of the things that you have to understand to get the premise of the book, and OH HERE YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST READ IT.

And, of course, being a querying writer, I worried about that.
I mean, shouldn't the relationships between our characters be easily definable?

But then I started thinking about my CPs' work, and the relationships in those manuscripts. The paranormal and sci-fi ones usually do have the same weird element of "they're together, but they're not just together, there's something different and special from anything else ever between them."

But even the contemporary stuff, or the romances, have the "it's complicated" thing going on.

Maybe the characters are in love, but it's because they ALSO have this weird connection that no one else could possibly have, intellectually, emotionally, or experientially.

Or maybe the characters are friends, but really they're in love, but they won't admit it, because one of them confessed last year and got turned down by the other, and now the other has a boyfriend but really loves her best friend. Except now he's dating someone new, who happens to be another one of her friends.

Whenever possible, choose this status for your characters.

See? It's complicated.

The best kinds of relationships are the undefinable ones.

It's not just boyfriends, right?

Parents turn out to be villians, partners-in-crime turn out to be long lost siblings. The new kid at school is the same guy who killed your best friend. The horrible professor is really a secret agent, and he was always on your side, but you never knew it. The MC's baby brother is a genius, and actually holds the key to some of the greater biological mysteries of the universe.

It's complicated.

So the way the characters feel, and act,  is complicated.

Which complicates the plot. (Or sometimes is the plot.)

Which makes the book awesome.

Okay, sweet readers, weigh in - If you're the writerly type, have you ever worried about "it's complicated?" Or do you try to make relationships more complicated? And, everyone - what are your favorite complicated - and uncomplicated - relationships in literature?


  1. *sobs at the LYM reference* *cowers at the giant drawer-jaws waiting to snatch it up*

    I kind of think relationships in novels SHOULD be complicated. Real ones are. And if everything is sunshine and kittens, it doesn't make for a very exciting read. And being the fan of romance that I am, I love for there to be something other than feelings driving a relationship - like you *just know* these two were meant to be together.

  2. I love this post! I honestly think if I read a book with clear cut relationships, it would be BORING! Half the fun of reading something like that is gaining new insight on all the world has to offer. If two people just dated, it would be like the real world, I much prefer the reality of books :D

  3. I always like conflict in the relationship, the discovery of why two characters are right for each other against all odds...or evens. Makes for great drama and great kissing scenes (we don't need to go there again...).

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  5. Relationships that aren't complicated are boring!

    That said - I think I dug myself into a little hole with my wip, because both my main character and the boy, who I guess you can call the LI (even though I'm not sure that's even the right thing to call him) are 'vessels' for a god and goddess who were lovers in another life. Though Lora and Mikhail don't really like each other, they develope the feelings of both of the gods who are living in their bodies, so it's like they do like each other, but their attraction isn't neccasarily real.

    Then there's the fact that Lora actually likes another guy...and to me, that goes beyond the realm of complicated.

  6. actually, I think the relationship between my two MCs in the beginning of my WIP is TOO complicated. at least, it's too complicated for the start of the book. took me forever to realize that, but this way, I can MAKE it complicated over the course of the story instead of already having it complicated to begin with :)