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Twilight floated a second fritter up to her mouth when she realized the first was gone. “What is in these things?” “Mostly love. Love ‘n about three sticks of butter.”

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Sep
12th
2012

The one thing all romances/ship fics need to have · 10:23pm Sep 12th, 2012

Just thinking, the one thing all romances need to have is a conversation that shows me that the characters love and enjoy each other that is not about how much they love and enjoy each other.

I've been in relationships where all we ever talked about was how much we loved and enjoyed each other, or why we weren't loving and enjoying each other as much and how to fix that. Eleven years ago, I knew I met the right person because our conversations were almost never about that. They were about. . . stuff. And stuff was much more fun to talk about then the relationship. And over time, I can always tell when we're going through difficult periods because we start talking about The Relationship instead of stuff. So in my mind, no matter how well the conversation turns out and how many kisses there are at the end, talking about stuff means this is a strong relationship, and talking about The Relationship means that someone (or pony) is trying to convince the other.

In a fic or a novel there's a tendency to try to keep everything on topic. Since in a romance the topic is The Relationship, it's easy to dismiss everything else as irrelevant to the plot. And it would be, if there were constant conversations about stuff. But one conversation like that isn't irrelevant, because you're showing that these characters love each other, and what their relationship looks like when it's not in trouble.

So to convince me that there's a real relationship here that I should root for, I need to see at least one conversation about: Sports, food, books, what somepony did that day (non-romantic), plans (non-romantic), other ponies (not related to the relationship), gardening, music, clothing, or pretty much anything other than feelings, romantic plans, romantic desires, or something that symbolizes The Relationship in the minds of the readers/characters.

(So for example, in Best Young Flyer Dash and Scoot talking about the competition counts as talking about The Relationship. Dash and Scoot hanging out at Sugarcube Corner and playing in the clouds in the chapter "Wild Ponies in the Moonlight" is talking about (and doing) stuff. That shows what the relationship actually looks like, more than any of the conversations about the relationship.)

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Comments ( 20 )

Yah I guess I have to agree with you there.

One of my favorite conversations to read (and write, although I don't claim to be any good at it), is light-hearted bickering between lovers. I think that (when done right) this can show the level of their relationship just as well as a 'stuff' conversation.

Did you somehow know I was writing an AppleDash fic, and this advice was perfect for me? :rainbowderp:
I'll take it! :pinkiehappy:

354815
I love those too, and it isn't a good AppleDash fic if they don't bicker at some point, but I still hold to the "stuff" conversation being important. It can include bickering/teasing, but the subject should be something not related to the relationship at stake. (The AppleDash Project chapter "Tough Ponies" is a good illustration of that sort of thing. It more or less stands on it's own if you ever feel like checking it out.)

354830
Great! And as I just said to BronyNeumo, there's nothing better than AJ and Dash bickering, too. :rainbowkiss::ajsmug:

354841
I tried something similar in the prologue (and in a few subsequent chapters) of 'Applejoy'. Not too sure how well it came out.

All my parents talk about is 'The Relationships'.

I'm with you on this one.
When I was still with my ex I could gauge how well we were doing by what we talked about.
If it was random stuff, we were gooddl.dropbox.com/u/31471793/FiMFiction/emoticons/misc_Sweetie_happy.png
If she brought our relationship up, it summoned the mother of all shitstormsdl.dropbox.com/u/31471793/FiMFiction/emoticons/misc_Vinyl_sad.png

Insightful!

Now that right there is just true

Hallelujah.

No romance can build on love alone - there must be trivialities and general acceptance to build upon a believable bonafide relationship.

I'm all about the silly conversation myself.

I will keep this in mind.

Honestly, I've never actually found myself running into this issue because I just find writing witty, bantering dialogue to be a fun thing to do. And I've always found that small little on-the-side conversations flesh out the story and add that odd bit of realism.

I dunno, kind of sounds like common sense when you think about it. Still, definitely solid advice.

This is what I loved about Xenophilia you can ignore the clop, and the human in Equestria. But there are constant points where characters will just stop and talk about anything and everything. Heck one chapter goes into comparative history and sociology in regards to ancient pegasi war strategies in contrast to the Punic Wars and the fall of the Roman Empire. And the whole time it is just some human guy brushing Rainbow Dashes hair and chatting with Twilight and RD. It made the romance seem much more real.

910737
I couldn't read Xenophilia. I tried once, but the author is awful about characterization, in the first chapter at least. I got no sense of character from the human guy, except that he was a blank slate for 20-something guys to project themselves on, and I felt like Dash was OOC. I saw no reason they might like each other at all.

However, I totally admit that I never read any further. So it might get better later on. But if a writer can't introduce the characters in the opening, they lose me.

910755 yeah the start (and ending) is rather abrupt and they don't explain any of the character motivations until later. There are a bunch of side fics both from the original author and others that try to give more in depth looks into the characters.

What's odd is that I do that naturally with my romance stories; pretty much like 784083 said in his/her comment. Relationships aren't held together on love alone--love is merely the foundation. It’s the "stuff" you mentioned that builds the framework for a good relationship.

Today marks the fifth time, I think, that I've dropped a link to this post. I wish it was on your userpage or something, rather than making me dig back through my del.icio.us bookmarks for the link. :twilightsheepish:

Regardless, this is a fantastic principle deserving of much more attention, and a late thank-you for articulating it.

3160334 Actually, it is on my userpage! I have a list of blog post links that hasn't been updated in a long (long long) time, but this one is old enough that it's one it. (The's the second link down under "On Shipping.")

But I'm glad you find it useful!

3160357
So it is! Thank you. :twilightsmile:

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