Bringin’ on the Heart Ache

We’ve all felt the pain of a break-up with a significant other. No one is immune to it. That hopeless ache of loss knows no prejudice. And if you are writing about that loss in a novel, it’s very important to communicate that feeling to the reader.

In the last post I wrote about villains. In a story that centers around relationships, antagonists aren’t always villains. They lie in more of a gray area. They certainly muck up a plot like a proper villain does, but their roll is more to do with reenforcing the battles that rage in the hero or heroine’s heads. They may be doing nothing other than existing in the hero’s life, and that in itself is the catalyst for struggle.

Bernice and Evan handle breakups in completely different ways because they treat their love interests in completely different ways.

Bernice is a drastic bridge burner, so to speak. Her relationships with men tend to run hot and short. Because of this, when she runs into them again, it is usually an awkward experience. Bernice is very choosy, however, with whom she shares her feelings with, rather than just her bed. Her trust in the reliability of men is intrinsically stingy, so when she does extend that trust and it is broken, she is utterly defeated and sulks away to bury herself in depression and work.

Evan, in contrast, is stoic yet romantic. He rarely allows himself the privilege of a sexual relationship, but when he does, it’s for keeps. Because his relationships become epic and all encompasing, the break ups are so devastating, he represses his feelings altogether. He simply deflects the situation from his  life and moves on. Whether or not his coping mechanism is any more or less emotionally healthy than Bernice’s is up the reader to decide.

The thing they both have in common is neither is good at closure. Leaving relationships behind as open ended question marks may not be a wise idea in real life, but in a book, they become literary devises that can really round out main characters and punch up the dramatic factor in a love story.

That being said, bring on the heart ache. It hurts so good (my apologies for bastardizing not one but two 1980’s rock song titles; entertaining, but lame).

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