Aright, straight up, shipability of couples is a ‘your mileage may vary’ situation for viewers no matter what. That said! Let’s talk about two basic ways that I can think of to make couples appealing to the readers.
- Desire to be in relationship/for partner:
If a sympathetic character wants something, the audience will want them to have it. This is true regardless of what the character wants- if they want a glass of water, if they want to save the world, if they want a relationship with the person that they love. Basically, we want our favorite characters to be happy. So, if they want a relationship, we will want them to have it. What kind of relationship and why they want it will vary, of course. They might want sex, or love, or companionship (or all of those), and they might want to be with someone because that person is attractive, or because they’re funny, or because they’re interesting (or all). The actual reasons that your character wants that relationship are nearly infinite, though some of these motives and characterizations will be more sympathetic than others.
For an example, I’ll go ahead and use ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, a podcast.
>Spoiler<, Cecil and Carlos are the canon couple there. Cecil’s puppyish adoration of Carlos is why the audience wants a relationship between the two. Carlos has actually only gotten to be a voice on the show for less than ten minutes total (out of 34 episodes). However, the audience likes Cecil, and Cecil really, really wants to touch Carlos’s perfect hair. So they root for him.
- Dynamic with partner:
Some people are more interesting and fun to watch when they are together. Some people also clearly enjoy each other’s company, or get along very well, or have good strong chemistry. Fans generally pick up on this quite well, and enjoy it, because, well, characters that are more interesting or more fun when they’re together are more interesting and fun for the audience. There are many different dynamics that partners can have- some partners bicker, some make a good team, others offset each other or bring out different aspects of their personalities. This will also include their behavior towards each other- maybe one partner tends to get in trouble, and the other one gets them back out of trouble, and that’s their dynamic. They might take turns taking care of each other. There’s so much variance that I can’t really tell you how to do it in so many words- but when a couple has an appealing dynamic, you can really tell. Instead of disappearing into each other and becoming less interesting, they create a more interesting mixture that brings different aspects of their character to light, synching up and making a dynamic pair.
Example: ‘Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ And Amal’, webcomic. (The canon pair here is not even a spoiler, because it’s in the bedamned title). They naturally and believably get along very well. Particularly, they spend a lot of time conversing and bantering- whatever else is up with their relationship, you feel like they could talk to each other for hours without tiring of it (which is great for them, because they spend most of the story driving along cross-country). They like each other, so the audience likes them.
Okay! I hope that at least some of that was helpful. Followers, how about reblogging with what makes you personally enjoy a canon couple?
when a gay guy shames another gay guy for ‘acting too gay’
1. The “Puppy Lover”: the one that kisses a bit sloppily but you accept it because his arms cradle you and his eskimo kisses melt you. This is the one that’s always touching you if he can; a hand in yours or in your arm, arm hooked with yours or around your shoulders. Kisses peppered over your face and ticklish on your neck, small smiles that make you giggle. Legs touching and lots of kisses, ‘I love you’s sprinkled more the ones on your ice cream sundaes. The one that you leave because he’s suffocating, but not the kind of suffocating you’d like.
2. The “One Who Got Away”: the one that you thought you’d end up with forever, whose kisses were perfect and hugs even more so. This is the relationship where you eventually had more fights than agreements, but you kept thinking that it would work out perfectly. And then one day it felt like the red string tying your pinkies snapped and retying just made it worse and although a part of you would always love him, it was better to just let those ends fray.
3. The “One Who You Never Got”: the one that you stared at in the middle of algebra, concentrated more on his new haircut than how to find the vertex of a parabola. His kisses happened when your eyes closed and you lost yourself in daydreams, and the only time he touched you was by accident. You still remember the time you handed him the pencil he dropped and you were convinced he fell in love when he said ‘thanks.’ And to this day, a part of you still thinks you’d be perfect together, that one day he’d catch you by your locker and lean against the neighboring one and begin a conversation with ‘hey, so I noticed you…’
4. The “Romantic Movie Protagonist”: the one that seems to be a combination of every single dream guy in the world. It’s Noah of ‘The Notebook’ meets Jack of ‘Titanic’ meets Landon of ‘A Walk to Remember.’ He’ll blast music from a boombox outside your window in the middle of a sleepless night and send flowers when you least expect it. Chocolates on Valentine’s Day and just when he feels like it and a candlelight dinner and rose petals to celebrate Fridays—or Mondays. He does all these things for you but soon you realize this is just a grown up version of the “Puppy Lover” and you’re suffocated again. It’s sad, but maybe you’ll find someone that’ll carry a boombox on his shoulder for you.
5. “The “Perfect One”: the one that seems to fit every definition of immaculate, flawless, ideal, pristine, impeccable but had only room around his neck for one name tag: liar. He’d be a bit too perfect and soon his lies made no sense—just how many history tests did he have?—and the day you went to his place to set up for a surprise dinner and saw that what he had to do wasn’t picking up extra hours at work but someone else, the heartbreak was anything but perfect.
6. The “Best Friend”: the one that you may not have grown up with but the one that you feel like you have. He laughs at your stupid jokes and when you ordered a salad on your first date, he offered half his hamburger, just in case. When you were sick and said you looked like crap; and then you opened the door, expecting your best friend, but instead you saw him holding the ice cream and movies, saying that he may or may not have intercepted her at Walgreens (in the most friendly way possible.) This is the one that all those wrong ones worked out for, why they ended—just so you could find him.
I want to write a queer novel that has actual happiness in it, like something that ends well and is funny and sweet and makes people flail at really cute things. I want a queer story that isn’t full of tragedy and pain ((though I do see the point and merit in them, and I have plans to write my own)).
I want to write a happy queer story that has a bright, pretty cover and lovely little curls in the script.
*Googles “one shot”*
Well, I would imagine standards depend on a lot. Is it an original fiction one shot or a fan fiction one shot? If it’s original fiction, then I’d call that more of a short story and look for resources on how to write good short stories. If it’s fan fiction, then I’d read one shots from the fandom for which you’re writing to get a feel for what is expected.
Fan fiction, despite its “anything goes” reputation, tends to have pretty strict tropes and expectations for its writers to follow, and only truly ambitious work even attempts to get away with breaking the mold.
Here are some resources on writing one shots:
- How to Write a One Shot
- How To: Write An Oneshot
- Writing: One-shots vs Multi-chapter Fics (forum)
- Mini Stories and One Shots
But it seems like you have a question about how to begin your story, so here are some resources for that as well:
- Crafting A Successful Opening @ The Beginning Writer
- In the Beginning
- The Beginning of your Novel that isn’t the Beginning of your Novel
- A Beginning from the Middle
- Starting with a Bang
- Starting with Flashbacks
- Opinions on Prologues
Fan fiction assumes a reader’s prior knowledge of the Canon (with a capital C) of that fandom. For this reason, many fan fiction writers gloss over what original fiction writers would identify as important to the beginning of a story. Sound strange? Think about it. Since the reader is already aware of Canon aspects of the story, character introductions and development, setting descriptions, and explanations of things like magic systems or future technologies all take a back seat to the plot.
This can be good or bad.
The good news: Your audience is built in. They’re reading your story because they like the source material, and, assuming your fandom is of a certain size, you’re sure to have an audience. Some fans aren’t fussed about plot so much as they are interested in seeing non-Canon ships sail or different character perspectives on the same story or what House Katniss Everdeen would have been sorted into had she gone to Hogwarts (it’s totally Slytherin).
The bad news: As the fan fiction writer who is clearly taking plot into consideration, the burden is on you to create a plot so riveting that it can set your story apart from hundreds, maybe thousands, of others. You share characters and conventions and settings with many writers, including the original creator. That can translate to a lot of pressure on the plot where in original fiction that pressure to be creative and “original” is spread out among all of the narrative elements.
There are, of course, other considerations like “good” characterization, writing style, tropes employed, knowledge and application of Canon, etc., but I believe the real test of a fan fiction’s worth to readers is in its plot. The more intriguing the plot, the more potential it has to be popular in the fandom.
I am, however, excluding one shots that fall into the “No Plot, Just Sex” and “Total Fan Service” categories, as these type of one shots are pretty intensely focused on wish fulfillment and not so much on narrative merit. That is not to say they aren’t “good” or fun to read, they’re just not the focus of this post.
My advice? Worry about telling a great story and not so much about how “original” it is. After all, you’re writing your fan fiction for yourself as much as others. I think you should have fun doing it, don’t you?
Thank you for your question, and I hope this helps!