Tuesday Tropes: Fatal Attraction (Literally)

Sometimes you want to take a character out of their world, wrap them in a blanket, give them some hot cocoa and say, “It’s not your fault all your love interests are batshit crazy.” Then maybe you set them up on a date with a normal person (who can protect themselves), cross your fingers, and pray the live happily ever after.

Because some characters’ love lives just suck – and not in such a way that they never find love, but because their loves end up either dying, being evil, or both.


In Supernatural, Sam’s love interest Ruby ended up being both evil and dead. But the actor and actress got married in real life, so at least there’s that?

Why it’s bad: If it happens once or twice, it’s not awful. It’s just another spoonful of drama for the character, and depending on what genre you’re writing in, that’s good or bad. While it can lead to character development, it’s most often used as a way for writers to not allow a character to have a full-time love interest and instead be a full-time bachelor or bachelorette (meaning more steamy scenes and potential drama). However, when it starts becoming such a problem that the fandom has dubbed your character as having a “penis of death,” you might want to rethink how you’re writing your character’s story.

Oh, Buffy...

Oh, Buffy…

This problem most often occurs in longer running things, such as book or television series. While I understand wanting your characters be rootless so that they can keep fighting those monsters, it gets to a point where any potential love interest is written off – by the audience – as crazy or going to die, which means they have no interest or investment in the character. When it gets to this point, you are failing as a writer, because no one cares about the character you created; they’re just counting down the minutes until the love interest is gone.

How you can fix it: If you really need your character to have a love interest, why not – and I know this is crazy – let them stay alive and sane? I get it: we’re writers, and we love making our characters hurt, but when your audience becomes indifferent to the people coming and leaving your characters’ lives, your story suffers. There are thousands of other things that can lead to character drama that doesn’t involve a love interest, or even death! If you think you’ve exhausted your options, however, and there’s nothing else left, then it’s probably time to wrap up your story before you jump the shark.

Bottom Line: There are other ways to create drama in your characters’ lives than by having doomed-to-die-or-go-nuts love interests. Be creative and think of something that is not going to create a cold and apathetic audience.

Give me your thoughts.

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