deird_lj: (Default)
[personal profile] deird_lj
So, back to shipping…

I have three basic things which turn me shippy:
1) the two of them are enemies
2) one of them can’t say “I love you”
and
3) one person is more invested in the relationship than the other one

Let’s talk about the third one.




Suppose you have two people, who don’t care about each other. At all.*

…it’s kinda boring.


Suppose you have two people, and one of them is madly in love with the other one, while the other one hates them.**

Not so boring. Kind of interesting, in fact, because you’ve immediately got a situation where A keeps pushing B away, while B keeps trying to get closer to A. There’s going to be tension. And if the writers are worth their salt, this can stay fascinating for quite a while.


Suppose one of the people is caught between hating someone and being in love with them.***

Fairly similar to the previous option – only now, most of the tension is happening inside the mind of the person with conflicting opinions. Plus, there’s the potential for lots of interesting mind-changing.


Suppose there are two people who are in love. With each other. ****

…kinda boring again.

You either end up with them gazing into each other’s eyes and whispering passionate nothings for hours on end (which is quite dull to watch), or some kind of external conflict gets introduced to pull the two of them apart. It has to be external conflict, because the relationship itself – not all that interesting.



* like, for instance, Illyria and Oz
** like Buffy and Spike in season 5
*** like Buffy and Spike in season 6
**** like Buffy and Angel






In fact, once two people are actually together in a settled relationship, there’s only so many ways you can keep them interesting.

Like… having one of them more invested in the relationship than the other one is. :)


What relationships am I talking about?

Well, there’s Willow and Kennedy. Willow is, and always will be, much more invested in Tara than she is in Kennedy. And Kennedy knows it.

There’s River Song and the Doctor. She’s way more invested in their relationship – because she remembers them having one.

There’s Amy and Rory – at least at first.

There’s Buffy and Riley (although I take major points off because I find them boring anyway).

And there’s Wesley and Lilah. Wes is more in love with Fred, Lilah knows it – and actually calls him on it - and yet they’re still definitely together.


(The Wes/Lilah relationship actually seems to be my most epically shippy relationship of all time – because it hits all three of my criteria for shippiness. *points up*)


It’s not something that comes up a lot in fiction, but I love it when it does. And I love it when a relationship is that unbalanced and yet they’re still together.

It’s why I never ever write Willow and Kennedy breaking up. Because they’re so fascinating together.




Questions? Comments?

Date: 2010-09-01 01:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] urania-calliope.livejournal.com
I... I... I wish to consume Illyria/Oz goodies. O_O WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?

Date: 2010-09-01 01:12 am (UTC)
deird1: lilac flowers, with text "how do they rise up" (Default)
From: [personal profile] deird1
Hee! Awesome.

Date: 2010-09-01 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] velvetwhip.livejournal.com
Interesting thoughts. I've written one character in love with a character who doesn't want them quite a few times actually. It is an exciting dynamic.


Gabrielle

Date: 2010-09-01 01:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] penny-lane-42.livejournal.com
I generally agree with you about everything in this post (and have similar kinks) and love the insight about internal/external conflict, except that I disagree that there are only so many ways an established relationship can be interesting. I could watch Eric and Tami from FNL or Wash and Zoe or Nick and Nora from The Thin Man movies interact forever, and all of them have established, egalitarian relationships.

It's definitely harder to make those interesting, but I hate the idea that it's impossible.

Date: 2010-09-01 01:33 am (UTC)
deird1: lilac flowers, with text "how do they rise up" (Default)
From: [personal profile] deird1
Hmm. Definitely not impossible. Just extremely tricky...

(I'm only familiar with one of those couples, though, so I'll have to take your word on the others.)

Date: 2010-09-01 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] menomegirl.livejournal.com
LOL! Those are all the reasons why Lindsey/Angel is my favorite ship.

And also why I love Buffy/Spike even though I also love Buffy/Riley.

Wesley/Lilah! rawr.

omg, wtf is up with the facebook and twitter thingies?

Date: 2010-09-01 02:04 am (UTC)
rahirah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rahirah
You either end up with them gazing into each other’s eyes and whispering passionate nothings for hours on end (which is quite dull to watch), or some kind of external conflict gets introduced to pull the two of them apart. It has to be external conflict, because the relationship itself – not all that interesting.

I disagree with this so much that it is impossible for me to express the intensity of my disagreement in English, and I am forced to resort to Old High Martian:

!!!!!!C{EJ {OISJ"SJ:ASM:LMKA"M:L

Seriously, why does everyone think that once both parties say "I love you" all obstacles magically melt away? People who are messed up emotionally, or who have ethical/religious/cultural/whatever differences, or who have physical challenges to overcome, are still going to have those neuroses/differences/challenges on the day after they say "I love you." The ILY is just one possible conflict in a whole universe of conflicts, but for some reason everyone's obsessed with it to the exclusion of all else.

I would agree that it's harder for a lot of writers to do established relationships, but a huge reason for that is that we're all exposed to hundreds of stories that end with "I love you" and very few that begin with it, so a lot of writers never learn how to deal with the 95% of the relationship that takes place only once it IS a relationship.

Date: 2010-09-01 02:34 am (UTC)
ext_30116: (Default)
From: [identity profile] libco.livejournal.com
What about when 2 people think they hate each other but they really don't? That's good too.

Date: 2010-09-01 04:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rebcake.livejournal.com
While I also like "one person is more invested in the relationship" type scenarios, I also think that it applies to 99.9% of all actual relationships, so it's pretty inclusive. Somebody always cares more. The width of the divide is sometimes more noticeable, but it's always there. Take your Doctor Who options. Who cares more:

1. Rose/Mickey
2. Martha/Ten
3. Doctor/Jack
4. Jack/Ianto

It's pretty easy to tell, right? Not all of those relationships are equally interesting, though.

Also, like [livejournal.com profile] penny_lane_42 and [livejournal.com profile] rahirah, I reject that established relationships = boring. Interesting ones are, however, rarely seen in modern media. When I do see one, I get excited all out of proportion to the story at hand. Example from this past weekend:

Friend is on edge of seat, while watching Victoria and Albert on their honeymoon in The Young Victoria.

Friend's partner: Why are you all excited? You're anti-matrimony!
Friend: I like romance.
Me: Romance is so seldom shown within the institution of marriage, it's almost shocking when you see it.
All: *nods*

They used to do it all the time in old movies and on TV. I'm not sure what changed. I'm sure my interest in showing Spike/Dru is partially attributable to the idea of a long, mostly happy relationship. Over 100 years, and she never stopped surprising him. To me, there's gold in them thar hills.

Date: 2010-09-01 05:19 am (UTC)
ext_15392: (Default)
From: [identity profile] flake-sake.livejournal.com
I disagree, but I find your post highly thought provoking.

First of all, I find couples who are not in love very intriguing. One of my favorite literary pairs are Henry and Margot from Dumas' La reine Margot. They are in a political marriage and end up being very good friends, covering for each others affairs even.

Of course if the couple is not in love you need other incentives to get them together but it can be highly interesting to me and I have a thing for man/woman friendships.

The other thing is about people being in love. I'm with rahirah here. That's boring if "and they loved each other for ever and ever" is the end, but really love doesn't make problems and tension go away. It can be incredibly hard and complex (=interesting for the reader) to stay together, even if you do love each other.

I think the main point for me is that I need two fully formed characters to fall in love. There can't be one created for the other, if they both have their own lives and motives, they have tension for a livetime.

Edited Date: 2010-09-01 06:36 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-09-01 09:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] norwie2010.livejournal.com
Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy - watch all their movies, read the biographies. ;-)

Date: 2010-09-01 09:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lusciousxander.livejournal.com
I have three basic things which turn me shippy:
1) the two of them are enemies
2) one of them can’t say “I love you”
3) one person is more invested in the relationship than the other one


You just described why I love a well written Spander -if Spander were canon, I expect all the above.

Date: 2010-09-01 11:16 am (UTC)
elisi: (Take my arm by signed_aislynn)
From: [personal profile] elisi
Hmmm. Re. the 'two people who are in love are boring'. I think there's two types:

1) New couple who are in love and only have eyes for each other. Early seasons Buffy/Angel f.ex., or Rose/Ten. As you say, there's no real conflict, and indeed it gets a bit dull because being in love is a wonderful thing to experience, but not that interesting to watch.

2) Established relationship, which is almost the opposite of the first. Love might have brought them together, but from that a hundred bonds have been forged, and they know each other better than anyone else, including all the other's strengths and weaknesses. It's not about the big battles, but about the everyday, about re-affirming - renewing - the love they already have. I see S7/post-NFA Spuffy here, f.ex, along with Amy/Rory, and to a great degree River/Doctor. And it makes me very excited because it's SO rare to see established relationships explored onscreen. (Sorry but Doctor/River have the most wonderful 'old marrieds' vibe to them!)

W/L = OTP

Date: 2010-09-01 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ohwaluvusbab.livejournal.com
I basically share your thoughts on everything ever. Reason #3 is bound to get me invested. Every time. I know plenty of people assert that two people being devoted to each other is not always boring, but I'm with you - once the mutual "I love you"s are traded, it feels like a certain tension is gone. If you're looking at ships in the sense that you want to see the two people building a strong, functional relationship together, then you'd disagree that there's no more tension. But... that's about the last reason I ever ship things. *sigh* I just thrive on conflict.

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