There’s a common trope in film, TV, and books, and that’s the idea that you can write the chase, but you can’t write the relationship. As Rob Thomas said of killing off a major character in the most recent Veronica Mars season: “There are not many shows about kickass detectives and their boyfriend at home.” He goes on to say: “There’s a reason shows end when the couple gets together.” (full article here)
I think it’s high time we start inspecting statements like “there’s a reason that ____” and “no story does ____”. Yes, there IS a reason shows and movies and books “don’t do that.” It’s because we assume that because there is this trope, then so it must be. Since it “works”, we can’t do something else. And so ensues repetitive and predictable writing. So goes the real death of many great stories.
To me, it’s gotten tired and boring watching the “will they or won’t they?” dance, knowing in your heart of hearts that they probably never will, and if they do, you won't get to see it. The Chase and Will They or Won't They? often go hand-in-hand. They're fine and they're fun...up to a point. It's like watching a house being built that never gets finished. Yeah, it's cool to make it and see how it's done, but if you never get to sit in it, if you never get to enjoy your life in it, what's the point?
It perpetuates the idea that the chase is the most important part. It’s where all the fun happens. Then you live happily ever after, or you end up in a boring, miserable relationship. We’ve black-and-whited an entire dynamic section of life. How uncreative is that?
The thing is, when I see a couple I want together, I actually want them together. I want to see them work their stuff out and make each other better and still be independent people. Hell, at this point, it’d almost be revolutionary.
As ridiculous of a show as Riverdale is, that’s one thing I have liked about it. The characters of Betty and Jughead began in that trope and, despite some blips, actually manage to be together for an extended length of time. It doesn’t ruin their dynamic or make them boring. They’re both nuts in their own rights, and so is everyone around them, so there’s plenty of drama to go around. It's actually not a bad example, even if the show is just stupid fun. They both go on solving the crazy mysteries and conspiracies of Riverdale, and they don't even do it together half the time.
That’s one thing I enjoy about writing LGBTQ characters. You figure yourself out, you get together, and that’s still half the battle. It can be for any couple, but it is particularly so when a large portion of the world still fights against you—when you’re still figuring out how you fit into a world you might not feel comfortable in yet. Even there, you run into those tropes.
Will They or Won’t They? and the emphasis on The Chase are two of the many tropes writers can fall prey to. Killing off beloved characters or making a character do something horrible to ruin a relationship are often cheap fixes to a problem that doesn’t need solving. It needs writing. So, be creative. If you feel like you have to do something in order for your story to work because everyone else did it, take a second, and ask yourself “Do I actually?”
Don’t always take the easy route. It’s often the road most traveled, and we will find no new ways if you never veer off the path.
How do you feel about the idea that couples getting together is the death of a story? Let me know in the comments!