The Power of Opposites: Do they Really Attract?
Raine Thomas discusses how the opposites in her characters gave way to romance within both her Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy and her new Firsborn Trilogy.
I’m very excited to be back at TeamNerd! Thanks, Annabell, for inviting me to write this guest post. Oh—and thanks for the awesome topic idea!
Opposites attract. Well, they do when we’re talking magnets and such. But is this true for people?
Think about it: when you meet someone, one of the first things you do is draw similarities between you. Websites specializing in dating-matches pair people based on what they have in common. That being said, why are so many of our favorite couples in romantic fiction opposites?
As a writer and a reader, the answer to that is simple: opposites generate drama. Need tension in a scene? Throw a bookish librarian into a hostage situation with a hardened, rough-and-tumble undercover detective. Make them work together to get out of a jam. Viola! Instant conflict.
I’ve used this formula a few times in my books. Here’s a breakdown of the different personality types in my Estilorian novels, for those of you who might not have read them:
Becoming = Amber (Sarcastic, Socially Awkward, Reserved) + Gabriel (Affable, Gentlemanly, Outgoing)
Foretold = Skye (Bubbly, Positive/Upbeat, Naïve) + Caleb (Gruff, Level-Headed, Realistic)
Defy = Tate (Easy-Going, Good-Humored, Open-Minded) + Zachariah (Distrustful, Cantankerous, Set in His Ways)
On the flipside, I’ve also paired characters with similar personalities. They break down like so:
Central = Olivia + James (Scholarly, Gentle-Natured, Balanced)
Shift = Sophia + Quincy (Intellectual, Stubborn, Loyal)
What I’ve discovered is that a writer has to be more creative in generating conflict when there are similar personalities involved. In Central, the primary conflict is external, brought about by secondary characters. In Shift, the conflict results from a years-long misunderstanding. The characters may share similar personality types, but they have their share of problems.
The primary pitfall to avoid when writing romance involving two similar characters is “insta-love.” Many a reviewer has cited this as their primary pet peeve in YA fiction. While I believe that most teens fall in love easier than adults because they haven’t yet begun “protecting” their hearts to the same extent, there should still be some build-up or issue to overcome. Make the reader want the characters to be together, then provide reasons they can’t. I assure you, you’ll have a winning novel on your hands!
Writing opposites can be challenging, as well. It’s important to convey how the two characters can mesh well despite being so different. Believe it or not, that’s not as easy as it sounds! Making the reader believe that the bookish librarian and the hardened detective can have a long-lasting relationship based on mutual love is probably going to require a lot of work.
Do opposites attract? They sure do. They attract readers. I’m quite convinced that this particular formula is here to stay.
And now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m suddenly inspired to write a story about a hardened detective. ;)
About the Author: Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of a bestselling series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane. She became truly passionate about writing when one of her stories took an Honorable Mention in a fourth-grade writing competition (who would have thought a story about a dancing spider would garner so much attention?). Carrying that passion with her, she earned her bachelor’s degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing from Georgia State University, then her master’s degree in Humanities from Central Michigan University.
Residing in Orlando, Florida, Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create young protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. She’s a proud member of Romance Writers of America and a contributing blogger to The Writer’s Voice. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.
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