Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Love that is not cheesy?
demontales at 4:05PM, Oct. 11, 2010
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I've most of the time tried to avoid love subjects in my stories, but in the first arc of the comic I'm doing I do have to pass in that dreaded zone. Most of the ideas I put on paper are rejected as soon as written because it sounds too awfully cheesy to me. I'm starting to wonder if it's possible to write scenes about love without beeing boring and plain and/or overused.

I don't want to kill the reader's attention in the first chapter, especially that after it will move on to much different subjects. Plus I don't really want to make people think I'm a romantic writer, and anyone that knows me would surely laugh at the idea. And it's unfortunately too late to switch the chapters as I should have done earlier.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
Hunchdebunch at 1:01PM, Oct. 13, 2010
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It would be easier for us to help you if you told us what sort of romantic scenes you're looking to create :) I can fully understand what you mean though; it can be hard to write love scenes in a non-cheesy way. My best advice at this stage would be just to keep it natural, if you get what I mean :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:51PM
demontales at 2:04PM, Oct. 13, 2010
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It will be hard telling about the scenes without giving spoilers, but I'll try.

An ex-girlfriend of some character will come back and even though romance won't happen again, there will probably be flashbacks of when they were still together, and some kind of jealousy from the current girlfriend.

Also, a girl has feelings for another guy than her boyfriend(the boyfriend knows it) and I don't want the scene where the guy “who is loved” learns it to be too cliché(will probably be the boyfriend who tells him).

I had other ideas but succeeded to plan less romantic scenes that I had in my original plan.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
Asbin at 7:43PM, Oct. 13, 2010
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My recommendation would be, don't worry so much about it. Keep the dialogue as natural to the characters as possible. If you're characters aren't cheesy in personality, it won't come off that way. What makes a romantic scene cheesy is the characters. Like just about anything taken out of Twilight lol
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
El Cid at 5:01AM, Oct. 14, 2010
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Most real-life romances are fairly mundane, which is boring to watch, or lubby-dubby, which is uncomfortable to watch. That's probably why so many writers resort to tired romantic clichés (romantic dinner by the fireplace, Guy A and Girl B complete each other's sentences then stare longingly into each other's eyes and kiss). Your best bet is to just keep it honest and explore the issue by referencing moments you've had in your own relationships or that you've observed in friends' relationships, and try to find the humor in it. If your audience is able to laugh and enjoy watching these two characters interact, then it will help them understand why they enjoy being together.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
demontales at 3:15PM, Oct. 14, 2010
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Thanks guys, those are good advices
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
rxavier at 4:59AM, Nov. 25, 2010
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Depending on the tone you're going for, you can have characters quietly thinking “wow this is cheesy”. It works for Oh My Goddess. ;)

I recommend copying: there have to be at least a few romantic scenes out in the literary/comic world that aren't painfully cheesy. See how other people did it, to figure out what works.

Usually, to make romance less cheesy, there has to be a build up to it. It doesn't happen overnight. For realistic romance, there should be the constant question of “does he/she feel this way, do I feel this way,” so much that the characters are never fully convinced one way or the other.

The cheesiest thing is having two characters meet and a day later they're confessing their eternal love for one another.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:15PM
Sayomi at 12:32PM, Jan. 23, 2011
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This topic was really helpful
I've used your advice and it's so much better than it was!
just shows how helpful asking people can be :) rxavier - thanks!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:24PM
GrimGary at 4:55PM, April 8, 2011
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Sorry to kick the dead post back to life.

Interesting subject and very few writers have the patience to pull it off properly. There are two ways to handle a good romance, that doesn't force two characters together all of a sudden.

One of the things that will kill a romantic story thread real quick is just take two characters and glue them together because you'd think it would be cool. Also insta-summoning a romantic interest for one of your main characters is a band-aid to a missing element.

Method 1: Which needs to be in your story from the get go, planned out and woven in skillfully. Either the character starts in the story with his/her love interest or the love interest floats in the background as a secondary (or even main) character. For the former, a pre-set up romance there needs to be chemistry (that which binds them) and conflict (that which tests the chemistry). For the latter; a character that the main character falls in love with or vise versa, there again needs to be chemistry. But you need to build up to it, and test their interest - perhaps one of them doesn't realize that the other is the one for him/her. Giving some sort of tension in the romance rather than giving it all over at once is the sure fire way to go.

Method 2: Ad Hoc build up. When you don't have it all planned out, a built up natural chemistry between the characters needs to be worked on. Again the tension in their romantic outset is going to be key. Perhaps one of the characters woke up one day and said “Gosh darn it. That other character is the one I should be with”. But boom; that other character has just started up with the villain or some such. Essentially you need to start peppering in the chemistry rather than have it already present.

Method 1: Chemistry strong (we care about them as a couple), tension present but unshakable.
Method 2: Chemistry weak but present, tension needs to be strong so that it draws in the audience.



last edited on July 14, 2011 12:39PM
demontales at 8:28AM, April 10, 2011
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GrimGary
Sorry to kick the dead post back to life.

No prob, I'm still in need of these advices, and I'm sure they help others as well. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
Tim Wellman at 11:42PM, April 11, 2011
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Honestly, unless you're drawing shojo manga, I'd avoid love completely. It NEVER plays well… there's a reason why all anime avoids actual love scenes (and western cartoons as well, Kim Possible, etc). The thing is, if you have characters you want your readers to fall in love with, they can't consumate love in your comic… you close the door on your readers. It's best to always have love scenes that ALMOST take place… kisses that are interrupted, etc… sexual tension always interests readers… the surrender, the ‘I Love You’ moment always loses readers.

If you have a kiss, it should be because a nervous couple are about to kiss, then the guy get's hit in the head with a soccer ball, forcing him into the girl's lips… but then knocking him out so that he doesn't remember :-)

Sexual tension is the most underrated thing in story telling… you should never break that tension, though.

You can have secondary couples in love, but not your main characters. It just drives a wedge between your characters and your readers… couples in consummated love share a secret that your readers DON'T share with them… and that's a point of failure in story telling.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:30PM
JustNoPoint at 7:25AM, April 13, 2011
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Unless your primary goal with the mood is more comedy oriented I kinda disagree with Tim. One of the things that puts me off of most animations anymore is that the characters never seem to actually get together. You get episode after episode of things preventing said characters from ever getting together and it gets very stale.

I think the biggest fear in making a relationship in your story is status quo. It's one of those things that changes the dynamics. And if the dynamics have been set a certain way for a LONG time it feels more forced. Changing status quo can be scary for the author and the audience. It alters what has been the established norm and structure.

For a story that wants to have evolution and a tad more streamline realistic approach the author should consider the natural evolution of his/her story.

Grim Gary's response is more akin to my own ideas.
Love is only cheesy IMO to those that are on the outside looking in. And generally you get a lot of scenes where you just witness how great the character's love each other. But not as often do you really see WHY they love each other. Physically it can be all mushy mushy for a good while. But if the characters don't really connect past the physical they will start seeing each others flaws and annoyances as time continues. So to make it less cheesy just show that love isn't easy in of itself. Relationships are HARD WORK.

I say just don't make the relationship a walk in the park and it won't be cheesy. Though while the initial hormones are present at the start of the relationship it should be VERY cheesy XD (if that's in character) As time goes they should learn to adapt or they will learn they are not right for each other. Which can lead to MORE feared status quo =p
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:12PM
usedbooks at 7:38AM, April 13, 2011
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As an observer, I find pretty much all of even the nicest relationships of others kinda off-putting. It depends on your audience. If you have an adventure-oriented audience, than any major romance will be a turn-off. You need to stay true to your mood/genre.

Be inspired by movies and stories you like. If you write a sit-com type story, go with sit-com romance. Keep it light. The characters might be friends and then realize that they kinda have feelings. You also need to throw in some awkward sit-com situations, especially early on (maybe conflicts with coworkers, family, etc.)

If it's an action movie, you gotta keep to the action. Have a spur of the moment kiss after a heroing experience. Have the characters facing eminent death and embrace in what would be their last moments. That would kick off the romance. The couple that kills together stays together – or something.

If it's a plain pure, non-serious comedy, you can have the characters try to get together and fail. Or get together with one person and then screw themselves over somehow and go to someone else. Be over the top only if the general mood of your story is over the top. Have characters be “mushy” only if they are already naturally mushy, overdramatic people.

If you stay true to character and true to story/genre/mood, all will be fine. Stories can evolve without fear unless the new development alters the mood or characters themselves. That's what kills stories. That's why people fear couplings of characters. But dragging things out can kill a story too… slowly – if not true to characters/story.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:38PM
demontales at 10:18AM, April 13, 2011
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Thanks again for your commentaries guys, there's a lot of good advice :)

JustNoPoint
I say just don't make the relationship a walk in the park and it won't be cheesy.
There should be none of that, when there's love in my stories, it usually end up horribly wrong. Not saying that's what will happen here, but I seem to be quite cruel with my characters when it comes to love. XD

usedbooks
As an observer, I find pretty much all of even the nicest relationships of others kinda off-putting. Be inspired by movies and stories you like.
I usually do too, which is why I wonder now why I let my story revolve so much around love. The only “love” movie I can think about that I really like was Harold and Maude, but my story isn't really comedy. However it contains interesting elements that can blend in many genres.

Tim Wellman
You can have secondary couples in love, but not your main characters.
In my case, I think it'll turn out more like: only secondary characters can be “happy” couples.

GrimGary
Method 1: Chemistry strong (we care about them as a couple), tension present but unshakable.
Method 2: Chemistry weak but present, tension needs to be strong so that it draws in the audience.

I'll think about it
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
ShadowsMyst at 1:27PM, April 13, 2011
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Some of the best advice I ever got from professional writers was “Write what you know, and if you don't know, then research research research”. If you've ever been in love, you'll probably know its not all teady bears and mushy cuddling.

In fact, love is rife with fear, jealousy, awkwardness, paranoia, screw ups, obliviousness, irrationality, embarrassment and is rarely a strait line. There's also different sorts of love, and what are called “attachment styles”, as in how people are likely to react when their attachment (real or imagined) is perceived. Most inexperienced writers tend to focus on the cliche romantic relationship of love, but those who actually write good relationships KNOW that love is about a lot more than just romance.

When people do fall in love, and do get together, it makes them very very vulnerable to that other person. Especially in longer relationships, partners often share extremely personal secrets which, if a relationship turns sour, can be used as a lethal weapon. Also, because you are dealing with very primal emotions. Since the original poster is dealing with a relationship from an Ex point of view, its very important I think to figure out what went wrong, to determine how they are going to react and what kind of things they will do. Ex lovers can make great antagonists because they know the protagonist so well, what will hurt them the most, and if they are really pissy, aren't afraid to do so in as humiliating or costly a fashion as possible. Remember, the opposite of love is hate. And there is no fury like a woman scorned. Even one who ‘claims’ she's over it.

I don't know if DemonTales is a guy or a girl, but if DT, you are a guy, writing a girl's role, I caution you to find a girl who's been in love and ask her if your dialogue and reactions for a girl is correct. The same can apply with a girl writing for a guy. Guys and girls react differently in love. Their thought processes are totally different, and girls do NOT react like guys and vice versa. Women often overthink and obsess over matters of love and relationships in ways that would probably hurt the male brain. Its just how we are wired. (yes, I'm a girl) This is why books like “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” exist. :P And probably not a bad read if you are looking on insight into male/female relationship dynamics.

I personally think that when you write, it should be a natural progression if you intend characters to get together. A lot of people do avoid going forward in a romantic situation, and just keep the tension of “are they ever going to get together?” But, I do think that it can be just as interesting to see if a couple will work (early relationship stage), or if they can withstand stress (later relationship phase). I think the dating phase can still be very interesting because there are always temptations, stresses, and insecurities/vulnerabilities in any relationship which can be explored to show depth or quality of character, plot points, history exposition and emotion without necessarily slapping people in the face about it.

That all being said, I can say from experience, there are moments when you just have to accept that love can and sometimes is, horribly cheesy. Even in real life, I've had moments were I've said “I can't believe I'm saying this and its horribly cheesy but…”. I think as long as you keep them to a minimum and try to write genuine relationships, not just a ‘romantic’ love, you can get away with the occasional “dawwww” moment.




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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
demontales at 4:35PM, April 14, 2011
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ShadowMyst
there's also different sorts of love, and what are called “attachment styles”, as in how people are likely to react when their attachment (real or imagined) is perceived.
Yep, that's actually one point I'm trying to touch. That there are nuances between the type of loves and the ways of living a relationship.

ShadowMyst
I don't know if DemonTales is a guy or a girl, but if DT, you are a guy, writing a girl's role, I caution you to find a girl who's been in love and ask her if your dialogue and reactions for a girl is correct. The same can apply with a girl writing for a guy. Guys and girls react differently in love. Their thought processes are totally different, and girls do NOT react like guys and vice versa.

I've taken a habit of showing my comic to many female friends because I've often been criticized for my female characters in the past. When I look back at a what I wrote(not comic related), I've created more horrible female characters than awesome ones. I don't know why, but it's the sad truth. Trying to improve on it though.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM

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