Sometimes determining what you really like in other writers’ works can help you with your own story creation. Especially if you dig beyond the What? to get to the all-important Why?
For example, it took me a little while to figure out that most books I really enjoy have a certain ‘realistic-yet-hopeful’ relationship aspect. It doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic, although it frequently is. I just need to be able to believe the characters in the relationship would actually, organically be interested in one another, as opposed to: Of course they’re made for each other… he has the smiliest smile and she has the hairiest hair! Beyond that, pretty much anything goes—as long as I can buy into it on an emotional level.
We’re all a ‘study of one,’ of course, but it was really helpful to me—and my work—to explore what resonated with me, and why.
I invite you to do likewise. Feel free to put your responses in the comments…
The below was my response to an author question I was asked on Goodreads (Who is your favorite fictional couple, and why?) and I thought it might be a good conversation starter here also, for the reasons given above.
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My initial response is to say Bryce & Julie, from Flipped. I love them! Although I suppose they can’t be my official answer because they’re never really a couple during the period covered by the book—one is always zigging (emotionally) while the other is zagging, and they’re never on the same page until the end. And even then, the resolution is more about the potential for them to become a couple than about them becoming an actual item. But definitely, one of the greatest first-love books ever.
Then there is the pair from my all-time childhood fave: Kip & Peewee from Have Spacesuit—Will Travel. (Perhaps the original “teens save the planet” book, half a century before Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent, etc. And perhaps the best of them all.) But again, they’re not really a couple during the book (she’s too young for one thing, even if she is the smarter half of the team). But, as with Flipped, you can definitely see them being together in the future.
And not that I would ever list my own characters as “my favorites,” but I do have a special place in my heart for Zach & Kimber, and GT & Jamie (and Rocky & Rann, and J & Assi, and…).
Then there are all the iconic pairings from TV: Let’s see… Buffy & Angel… Buffy & Spike… Angel & Cordelia… Willow & Tara… Xander & Anya… (Okay, let’s pass on TV.)
But before leaving human/vampire pairings, is there any better than Tana & Gavriel in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown? Not that I can recall. Even you-know-who & what’s-his-name. (To say nothing of the best fantasy couple that never was: H&H. Damn.)
And of course there are contemporary couples from adult fiction, like the interesting-but-not-quite-believable on again/off again/on again ’ship between Lisbeth and Blomkvist of Dragon Tattoo fame. My credibility isn’t stretched by the waif-like/multi-millionaire/psychologically-damaged/mathematical genius who still needs a legal guardian at twenty-something, but by the supposedly mature, intelligent, middle-aged reporter who’s so emotionally near-sighted he can’t see what’s right in front of him. Even with all that, they’re a memorable pairing. (And full disclosure—I actually liked that bastard-child of a fourth book in the trilogy. Partly for the resolution.)
Back in what is ostensibly kidlit land, the story of Liesel & Rudy in The Book Thief may be the saddest of them all, because—unlike in Flipped—the potential for them to become a couple is forever destroyed by the realities of living in wartime Germany. They’re both truly heroes at an age far too young to have to be heroic. And although neither of them know it until it’s too late, they’re in love from beginning. The final scene with the two of them just broke my heart.
So, to what may be my actual favorite fictional couple… at least for now. Puck & Sean from The Scorpio Races. (Don’t you just love the way he calls her by her first and last name?) Everything about that book is so understated… whispered, instead of shouting in your face. But really, I think they’re my favorite literary couple simply because they actually, really, truly belong together.
So... who is YOUR favorite fictional couple???
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