There are three kinds of story engines (that I know of): character driven, plot driven, and idea driven.
I usually hook onto character so the crux of my stories can boil down to relationships: good relationships, bad relationships, tangles of motivation, not necessarily romance, but how characters interact with each other and the world.
Lately, I’ve been mulling over how relationships unfold in life.
The first meeting can be forced, deliberate, or accidental. Sometimes there’s an immediate liking, other times it takes time to get past shyness or prickly defenses. Sometimes the other is a complement, a foil that frustrates and challenges you.
Sometimes there’s quiet admiration and respect. Maybe there’s an understanding, a shared loss that no one else can understand. Sometimes it’s just finding someone that appreciates your corny sense of humor.
Sometimes it’s all fire, and try as you might, you just can’t get along. You’re two stones scraping together going the same direction, and you just have to make it work because you have no other choice. When whatever brings you together is done with, you move on and forget each other. It never becomes anything more.
Sometimes it proceeds cautiously, you’re not sure what is sincere. Other people open up easily, put their trust in you, and you the onus not to break that trust rests in your hands.
You discover that you can depend on the other for certain things, or that you can never leave the other alone in the kitchen.
Sometimes you don’t realize it’s friendship until one day you look at the other over shared laughter or tears. That moment when acquaintance turns into friendship can be a beautiful thing. But, it can also be a gradual slide, and you can find no single moment to define it.
When trust is broken, it can turn to hate, and things end here unless trust is reestablished.
Usually it’s simmers beneath the surface before its said. Sometimes the saying is a huge moment, the thing you’ve been waiting for all along, because to say “I love you” is always to risk heart break. Sometimes the saying is an afterthought, blurted out in passing, full of laughter, because you think, “well it’s about time!”
Sometimes its unspoken, and will never be voiced, because it can never ever acted upon.
Sometimes it’s not returned.
Relationships can be simple, messy, unhealthy, rewarding, challenging, twisted, and a thousand other things. I like to keep those dynamics in mind when I write.
I’m just a hopeless romantic, really.
Do you consider relationship dynamics in your stories? Do you build them deliberately or do they emerge on their own?