Hello! I've been working on a particular story recently, and I was wondering if you had any tips or links to relevant resources. 2 main things: 1) How do I write two best friends (ugh, so cliché, I know; however, in this case, I think it makes a lot of sense) that end up "falling" for each other (in a way that isn't super annoying)? Please keep in mind this is NOT the main focus of the story. 2) How do I make my readers root for (or, to be simpler, ship) two characters? Thank you very much!
It’s so cliché I wrote that kind of relationship too! No worries, friends falling for friends happens in the real world too, if not as often as it does in literature (because, I guess that’s what we want, right?).
I’ve definitely read some posts/articles on this specific type of romance, but they were really brief and not memorable, so we’ll go with my experience for now.
1) No matter how badly written or terrible the relationship, there will still be shippers. I’ve had people ship characters that were never going to be together simply because one of them bestowed the most basic act of kindness upon the other. Shippers are hopeless romantics, essentially. They want to believe.
When my two characters did get together, all my online comments (except one who preferred them platonic) were along the lines of “AAAHHHOHMYGODITSFINALLYHAPPENING.” Apparently, mainstream storytelling has readers so convinced there will be a romantic subplot, that all my readers had assumed these two would get together from day one. Just in case that wasn’t so, they also shipped the main character with her other friend, her love interest with another girl, and kept expecting a love triangle to form at some point (never).
Long story short, shippers be shipping no matter what.
2) How to make it not annoying? And cliché? And silly? I wanted to avoid all those things too when I initially wrote the romance, yet when I came back to edit it a year later I cringed while deleting large sections of their dialogue and interactions. I also realized that when I first wrote them I didn’t understand their personalities as well as I do now. Still, I love how the relationship turned out, and as I got to know these two characters better, the better I understood their motives and reasons for falling in love. It’s okay that it wasn’t perfectly portrayed in the beginning, readers still got the point and kept reading.
The best thing you can do, in my opinion, is to avoid mushiness and remember that these two people already know each other really well. Sure, they might feel a little awkward once the romance starts, but unlike falling in love with a stranger or mild acquaintance, they already trust and respect the other person. If that’s the case, they love each other despite the flaws they already know about, and might be more willing to forgive the other person over personal differences. Or they’ll break up and never speak again, that happens too sometimes.
Don’t feel that because it’s friend-falling-for-friend it’s somehow more likely to annoy readers than any other kind of romance. All types of romance have the equal ability of being cheesy or breathtaking. Learn how to write your characters well, get in their heads, see the way they see, and the romance begins to write itself.
If you haven’t seen my big ol’ masterlist of romance-writing-references, here’s the link (x). Focus on the last subheading to help you get into character, and refer to the rest for backup.
Hope this helps!