Often my male leads exist in response to my female leads. They aren’t empty vessels but they are easy targets for my women. It’s easy for me to see who my female lead should end up with and then create that man in response to her. This time the path wasn’t as clear because my female lead wasn’t as clear until quite a few passes through in editing.
So in many ways they developed singularly and I had to weave them together. I like how it worked out. He was in an existential tail spin. She was having a coming of age moment. Maybe in many ways they were both having a coming of age moment. The hardest part was putting them together and making the chemistry work.
Often the chemistry comes from the natural interplay my male leads has with the female lead because of how he’s developed like I mentioned earlier. This time I had to work at what kind of relationship it would be quirky, sarcastic, lovey, etc. I tried lovey at first because I was also trying to create a soft, gentle, pink fluff girl.
When I had to drop that idea for my girl and give her some grit the lovey didn’t work as well. Honestly, it wasn’t working great to begin with. I don’t like writing lovey. It comes across to me like that simpering girl who’s all saccharine cliché of empty cotton candy sentiment and reaction. From my experience, that person is more act than authentic. Usually lying beneath is a pretty nasty veneer and likewise overly lovey romances come across icky – cloying, annoying and giving off the feeling like something isn’t right, like they are compensating with this behavior. A great big fake-ola act.
I know that’s not always true. I have seen some schmaltzy beautiful relationships that are so authentic they make my cynical heart beat anew. But I’ll be honest those couples are the .01%, the rest are putting on a soap opera act that is a little off-putting for most of us trying to live a ‘real’ life. And I don’t want to write that.
Ashby and Cossette really came into their own in the final push to get this thing read worthy. I’m rooting for them and it’s easy to imagine them fifty years down the line telling their crazy courtship to grandkids and mourning each other as they pass on.
And to me that’s the tell of a great love story.