Tuesday, 26 February 2013

I'll Kiss You If You Save The World

Ah, true love. That strange emotion that spurs people on to save worlds, defeat inner demons, conquer the bad guy, save the girl.


So why is it that so often, the love falls flat?

'Why?' is possibly the worst question to have to ask. Why? Why her? Why him?

(Note: if it's hard to answer the question 'why' when writing about 2 characters in love, it's 999 times harder to answer 'why' when it's a love triangle.)

When I think of true love with layers, I think of Link and Zelda. When I think of true love without any discernible reason, I think of Mario and Peach.

Link and Zelda (first google image result):

Mario and Peach (first google image result):

What's the difference? One couple clearly has more chemistry, more companionship. Why is that?

1) Complex Characters:

The first thing I notice when I look at these two is the difference between Zelda and Peach, and Mario and Link. Mario has been given a fairly goofy, down-to-earth personality from the beginning, where Link has been silent, faithful, courageous and displayed the occasional sign of snark. Both have a personality.

Zelda is responsible, wise, and never shies away from her duty. Peach.... gets kidnapped. Peach is... nice? I guess?

Aha. There it is. If your romance feels like it's falling flat, make sure all parties are engaging characters with lives of their own. Once we see a character as a person, it's easier to see her as a character in love.

2) Motivation:

I know not every novel has a bad guy pounding down the front door, but every novel has conflict. If the conflict is real, it reaches down to the core of the characters, keeps them awake at night, makes them worry. Why is the hero facing the conflict?

Mario's motivation is rescue Peach.
Link's motivation is to rescue Hyrule.

It's easier to feel sympathy for Link. Zelda may be in danger, and rest assured he will rescue her, but Hyrule has to be his first priority. Give your heroine and hero something deeper than just fighting against conflict for the romance, give them depth.

3: Relationship:

Peach and Mario have been a couple for quite some time, but we've barely ever seen them kiss.

Link and Zelda never seem to end up together, but just the way they look at each other screams True Love!!

There is tension in the Link/Zelda relationship. There is growth, there is mutual respect and admiration. There is a higher goal both characters desire to see accomplished.

This is all just my opinion, of course, but I've always known I would prefer a Link to a Mario. *sigh*
Have you ever had a crush on a video game character ?



L.G. Smith said...

In literature and in life, love is more interesting when both parties have their own backstory and motivation. So true.

Anne said...

This was a very informative post, especially for one who's been struggling to bring more life to her characters. Thanks a lot!

Missed Periods said...

I didn't have a crush before, but after this post, I'm starting to really dig Link.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I loved the uniqueness of this post ;)