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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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 25, 2020
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