The Art of Mirriam Neal

How to Write a Love Interest

Don’t.

Obviously this post has to be longer than a single word (because somebody somewhere said single-word blog posts don’t hold readers, or…something).

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I have approximately 358,713,498,000,000 pet peeves when it comes to writing, and love interests = one of them. Possibly several. I see this absolutely everywhere, from blockbuster films to amateur YA novels, and it hurts the 99.9% of my soul dedicated to writing. Love interests, in my opinion, should not exist except for satire. Why?

Because a love interest is not an actual character.

BOOM I said it. I’ll show you why.

A LOVE INTEREST

• Is created solely to be the object of another character’s affection or desire.

• Is not a three-dimensional, fleshed-out character, but rather a straw figure usually used to spur another character into action.

• Rarely has any motivation, dialogue, or even actions that are not related to whomever they love.

• Would probably stop existing should something happen to the person who loves them, because that person is the only reason they were created in the first place.

Characters written specifically to be love interests are lazy. Now,  I have nothing against a main character HAVING a love interest, if that love interest is written as a three-dimensional character whose entire world does not revolve around the main character.

An example of a well-written, three-dimensional love interest is Steve Trevor from Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman film. This movie did MANY things absolutely right, and I could talk about it for a long time, but beyond anything else (except General Antiope because……I mean) the handling of a love interest blew my mind.

Steve Trevor is Diana’s love interest – but he is so much more than ‘a love interest.’ He’s a character with whom we resonate. He exists to do more than fall in love with Diana and prompt her actions; he is existing and living within the fictional world as his own person, doing his own thing. He’s a spy, he has a strong sense of duty, a large sense of humor, a big heart, a noble soul, and a frequently confused expression. Not only is he three-dimensional, but we see the growth of HIS character development side-by-side with Diana’s.

He is Diana’s love interest – but he exists outside of Diana, and we are constantly aware of the fact.

It’s hard to find an on-screen relationship that does the same thing. Even Arwen is reduced to a motivational love interest for Aragorn. Peeta is reduced to a motivational love interest for Katniss. The great films do it and the….not-so-great films do it, and I’m completely, utterly, 5000% over it.

Yes, this is also why I tend to dislike romance movies and stories because BOTH characters are reduced solely to the existence of ‘love interest’ and honestly I don’t care.

TL;DR, LOVE INTERESTS ARE PEOPLE, TOO. THE END.

 

 

 

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