Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Romance Act IV

[I only have one or two acts left, honest!]

Okay, you have the two characters designed and set up. You have decided on the obstacles between them. Now you get to set all of this into motion. Those poor characters….

The first thing to do is look at the obstacles you have chosen, and figure out how to escalate it. The obstacle needs to come into play at least three times. This is not a necessarily arbitrary number; you need to prove that the two of them are serious about their love, but you don’t want to overdo it. Ergo, the limit, both minimum and maximum, is three. You can change that based on the length of the comic or how much fun the obstacle is, but try not use it to the point that it gets annoying. Just remember that it has to fit the piece and that it can’t get too annoying or it ends up spoiling the comic as a whole.

Each time the problem comes up it needs to have a deeper emotional impact. The first time needs to introduce the problem. It then needs to escalate into an annoyance. As a final step it needs to become a major problem. When it comes to determining act breaks, the first time should start the second act and the third time should start the third act.

As nothing works better than an example, here are three:

Let’s say you go with the standard family problem. The basics are that the two lovers can’t date unless their respective families agree, and the families are, of course, at war. You know, the standard Capulet/Montague thing. Or Hatfield and McCoy Feud. Whatever. The first time would be the two falling in love, and then recognizing the problem. They then need to sneak around dating, eventually hitting the next problem: Almost getting caught. At this point getting caught would have serious repercussions, thus upping the stakes. The third time would be either solving their respective problems, or eventually getting killed. Suffice to say that usually goes either way, so there is some added drama depending on how serious the comic is.

On the other hand, let’s say duty is an issue. In essence, the couple has some sort of job that keeps them apart. The standard version is that they are both cops in the same unit, and fraternization is frowned on. However, by hiding the romance they can remain in the unit. The obvious issue? You try to keep a secret in a group of detectives. That said, the obvious first problem is that there are the first clumsy attempts at hiding the relationship. This graduates into there being an obvious issue on the job; they need to overcome an emotional issue, such as one of them almost getting killed on the job and they need to deal with that. Finally, news comes down that they can both be fired and even jailed for hiding their relationship. They need to either deal with the romance, or find a way to quit that works.

Finally, let’s look at the nasty one: The guy is in love with someone, yet meets a better match on the quest. He starts the quest, but meets her on the road, and she agrees to accompany him, helping defeat the first problem. The second is easily defeated, but he is starting to fall in love with her, and she him. As they fall in love, it causes problems on the quest, such as sleeping arrangements and other issues. The third is the big problem, especially if he has to decide between which of them dies. It sounds simple, but it requires some serious plotting to work.  

Other plots can be just as much fun. When you are plotting it out, just remember to escalate each step and it should be easy. Just try to integrate it into the overall plot, and have some fun with it. Romance should be fun, and it helps to raise the stakes. It’s a lot more than just something for characters to do; a good romance makes the story more poignant, and can add a lot of drama to the plot. Just remember that there is a pay off, and that the added details can be worth it.

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