julian_griffith: (Default)
[personal profile] julian_griffith
 This began as a comment in [personal profile] unbroken_halo 's journal. She was complaining about being asked to show her characters falling in Insta-Love. She felt that it was more realistic for them to start from a place of lust and only develop their emotional connection and desire for long-term commitment after they'd acted on the physical attraction - that men especially think "yeah, I'd tap that" before any feelings of "omg I want to spend the rest of my life with you" develop, if they ever do.

There's a discussion that could happen about the gendered assumptions there, but this is not that discussion. Leaving that entirely aside, I agreed that physical attraction coming before romantic connection is both plausible and frequent, but romance-as-a-genre isn't necessarily about that - it's about the emotional payoff of the HEA, and sometimes that means making the story about having ALL THE FEELS. And so we kicked it around a little, and here is my comment that I want to share with you:

Oh, and you've got the constraints of a short story! It's definitely harder to move your couple to their HEA without insta-love if you've only got limited space to do it in.

For the one m/m short story I've sold, (ed.: "Lost and Found in the Pacific", coming out from Torquere in September) I didn't start the men at their initial meeting. I introduced them as established BFFs and the story arc went through crisis situation, to reveal of desire/declaration of love, to the consummating sex scene, and wound up with a promise of commitment. I don't think I consciously planned this -- these two were, for all practical purposes, AUs of a fannish OTP of mine and their romance arc has always been friends-to-lovers, so I just set them in their AU and figured out where their friends-to-lovers turning point was in their new life stories, and wrote about that. If I'd been doing it at a longer length, I could have followed them back to their initial meeting, or even to the POV character's story before he met his other half, and I could have extended it beyond their promise through the obstacles they have to overcome before they can settle down and make a life together -- these are TOTALLY novel-length boys, and they want me to write them a detective series AFTER they settle down so that I can keep writing about them without making their relationship the source of all drama and peril. It's like photography, in a way, where the most important part is composition: deciding what to show.

In the novel, the men's relationship arc as a couple, from meeting to what they thought was an end, took up the entire first half of the book -- fourteen chapters. Mildly antagonistic meeting in the first chapter resolving into mutual respect, attraction developing in the second and third chapters (one from each of the men's POVs), chapters four and five pursuing the acquaintance to where they could establish that the attraction was mutual and take it to the bedroom, and then the next nine showing the relationship growing beyond the physical as the emotional connection deepened, even as they knew that they couldn't expect forever, until the point where they always knew they'd had to break it off. That's nearly 40,000 words. The next 40,000 follows Guy #1 with the girl, brings #2 back and creates HIS relationship with the girl, and finally brings them all together.

I don't think you can do an arc like that in a short story, any more than you could take my M/M couple from the short story through their first meeting, to their declaration of love over a year later, and then through about three more years of obstacles until they reach a settled-down HEA in the space of under 20,000 words. Okay, MAYBE in 20,000 words if I compressed it pretty heavily, but it would be uneven. It'd flow a lot better if I started before their meeting and gave them plenty of detail and gave them, oh, 65,000 words to show it all.

First meeting to HEA in a short story? It's GOING to be stylized and artificial.

This is a thing that I did not know until I wrote it down, so I wanted to put it here so I'd remember it.

Date: 2013-07-24 07:28 pm (UTC)
kittygamble: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kittygamble
It's very true. Word count has a lot to do with it. And fear of the insta-love thing is why I've only ever once wrote a couple meeting for the first time. And all the time I was writing that I was all 'how do I make this believable, they barely know each other how do they think they're in love?'

With most of the others they start knowing each other - whether they're best friends like Bertie and Jack, or established lovers and their colleague who they've been getting close to in Victorious War. Even this newest short story I'm not doing any first meetings - the short glimpses of interaction I'm showing before the main action are of snapshots of their relationship, not the very beginning. (and it's at war, so not much ALL THE FEELS, unless you count 'dead childhood friends/siblings' feels or 'I really don't want to lose my arm/freeze to death on the side of a road in France' feels.)

And though I'm going to get them to a situation where they're all in bed together, I don't know if it'll be insta-love. Affection, hope, tenderness, recovery... maybe love. Maybe on James' part, if it's anywhere. Effie and Henry have a very warm affectionate kind of love already. She might be falling for James, too. I hope to bring the warm fuzzies, but this is definitely not the end of their story. Much like your Harry and Andrew. :)

Date: 2013-07-24 08:20 pm (UTC)
kittygamble: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kittygamble
Yes! Hurt/comfort is brilliant. As was keeping his secret - shared trust is a pretty big step in the right direction as well. Susie also pretty much tells him that she DOES have the hots for him later. They're going to be married, so the fact that they both desire each other is a GOOD thing. She's not something too pure to be touched, she's a real person. Percy needs to have this spelled out to him before the wedding night. Or it would have been a complete disaster. Well. More of a disaster. ;)

(Side note: I hope failed sex is allowed in romance novels, because it was the most realistic way of writing it and I sort of love it. If it's not allowed, I have a backup scene done where they don't even try to have sex. Because there's no way two virgins - one of whom is VERY nervous - are having even decent full sex on their wedding night. TMI maybe, but two virgins? It's AWKWARD, I know this. And neither of us were Percy-level awkward.)

Yes, all of that. James is old enough to have worked through all of that already. Actually, he's having trouble getting used to being able to be attracted to Effie, strangely enough. He's used to women of her position being demure and chaste, but Effie at this point is out of fucks to give. If she wants to sleep with someone she's going to. Also I think her parents were part of the Bloomsbury set, so she's absorbed some of that mentality too, though she was fairly well behaved until the war.

I do mention that teenage Henry WAS confused and it made him all grouchy and teenager-y. And he and Effie got on okay most of the time except for the maybe 30% of the time when they'd REALLY piss each other off and end up screaming at each other. They'd be friends again within an hour, though. They just know how to piss each other off. So when he was being extra grouchy after coming home from school one summer she shouted at him until he snapped and admitted WHY, and she just said 'So was my Mama's best friend, and Uncle Leopold was lots of fun and didn't SHOUT AT EVERYONE.' It's a very sweet image. They're closer and much calmer now they're both in their twenties. Even more so after the war.

Date: 2013-07-24 08:42 pm (UTC)
kittygamble: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kittygamble
Hahaha. Well, Percy doesn't jump out the window, and if he'd tried Susie wouldn't have let him. He was embarrassed, but comfortable enough with her that she can help him to relax him a bit. And you know, he has those gorgeous hands...

Yeah, similar to that. They'll be getting along really well, but then one would do something to piss the other off and when that happens it's a huge argument. When they were younger there would be much screaming. But they do love each other. The arguments are why they won't ever marry, even though Henry's father would like them to. They know it'd be a nightmare.

August 2013

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