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After Marriage

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 25, 2020
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Usually in adventures, thrillers and other stories, when the main characters are romantically involved, the B plot (or even the A plot) is the ‘will they/won’t they' question: will they get together in the end, usually with a happy end scene of marriage, or some such thing. Romance, again, is almost always about how the boy gets the girl, or lately, whether boy/girl gets the boy/girl.

This is a tried and true and everlasting plot because it is so enticing, so able to create engaging situations, character development and suspense. It will never die, and I don't think it ever should.

But it's not the only thing on the menu!

One other, less employed arrangement for a couple is the established one, rather than the budding one: the action heroes that are happily married several years already, weathered war buddies that also happen to be an item, and so on. There is no intrigue on whether they love each other- they do. There is no suspense on whether they will marry or confess their love to each other- they have. They have developed some manner of communication and cooperation that makes them stronger together and more balanced than they are apart.

The allure in this kind of situation moves beyond the initial stage to character interactions within a framework that is steady despite differences of opinion, clashing personality traits or other matters that occur within a marriage or steady relationship. Often in these stories, the couple is separated by circumstance, which provides for further motivation for them to be involved with and push the A plot forward. Or they may be struggling with a specific relationship issue, like, for example, having children, or being unable to have them, one of them wanting something the other doesn't, and so on.

I don't include the ‘threat of divorce’ in that list because in my opinion, that is simply an alternate version of the same ‘will they/won’t they' subplot rather than an actual exploration of a healthy relationship between the two main characters.

I also don't quite consider the ‘happily married support character to the main character’ arrangement as part of this trope, because then we don't really see the main character interact with his/her wife or husband while he/she is pushing the plot forward, but only in the ‘aftermath’ scenes (this is often the case in police dramas with the ‘devoted detective’ trope).

For couples to be considered ‘power couples’ or ‘war buddies’, they need to be active and have agency in the A plot in equal parts.

Have you ever written a power couple or battle couple? How was it different for you compared to budding romancers?

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comment

anonymous?

Jason Moon at 12:25PM, April 26, 2020

"Have you ever killed anyone before?" (Arnold's voice) "Yes, but they were all BAD."

EssayBee at 11:11AM, April 26, 2020

This is one of the reasons I really liked The Mummy Returns; it was one of the few Hollywood blockbuster sequel that actually moved its couple forward instead of resetting their relationship. I suspect the high divorce rate in Hollywood is one reason they have trouble figuring out a way to keep a couple committed and their relationship strong (a sad consequence of "write what you know," I suspect). As for personal power couples, well, that's pretty much the whole premise of Dude in Distress.

hushicho at 4:22PM, April 25, 2020

I absolutely hate marriage shoved into a narrative, because most people don't do it well; it's also very much a primarily straight people story element, so I tend to find it unsavory in general and usually leading to nothing much good. I will say that if characters are designed to be together and it's well-written, exactly like the Thin Man series, it can lead to a fantastic narrative...and one that only rarely ever questions that relationship. It's really important to have priorities on what your story is focusing on. If it's not the relationship, that relationship probably shouldn't be central.

roma at 9:41AM, April 25, 2020

I'm a fan of couple characters. Especially, when they have complimentary personalities. They don't appear to be a matching couple yet somehow their differences of opinion works. I have to admit, it's hard to write those characters.

mks_monsters at 9:34AM, April 25, 2020

I have one in my comic though I didn't get to showcase them as much as I would have liked. It's Utterson and his wife Camilla who are married, but get this: Utterson is a Christian human while Camilla is a Wiccan witch. Utterson married her without making her convert to his faith or lifestyle. He fell in love with her as she was so her lets continue to be who she is.

Banes at 6:49AM, April 25, 2020

One of my faves remains Deep Space Nine's episode "Change of Heart". It was supposed to be the couple on an adventure before they got married, but for some reason the episode order was switched. As a result, they got a much more interesting episode of an already-married couple, challenged by what happens on their assignment. Big tear-jerker at the end!

Banes at 6:45AM, April 25, 2020

I would like to write a battle couple, or two weathered soldiers in an established relationship - it's got many more possibilities for nuance than the singular will they/won't they thing.

Banes at 6:39AM, April 25, 2020

I'm having deja vu! I was about to say I've always meant to see the Thin Man series but felt like I'd read bravo's comment and said that before. Still haven't seen it though xD

usedbooks at 6:38AM, April 25, 2020

I love coupled characters, but I don't think I've written them. I like to see couples together in an adventure, but it's also nice to see one half of the couple adventuring and thinking of his/her family at home (like Willow). -- Partly because I know I won't have to deal with "will she won't she" nonsense. lol. (I do have a core character like that in a story I'm writing.)

bravo1102 at 2:43AM, April 25, 2020

The perfect example remains the "Thin Man" series. There's never a doubt that Powell and Loy will stay together but the adventures they go through as s team. A married couple in a steady healthy relationship can be the perfect "buddy" movie. There are also stories where the "will they/won't they" only lasts 10 minutes and the couple is basically a team the whole rest of the movie. The question isn't will they get together but whether they live long enough to ever have a life together.


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