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Sixteen Lovers Part 1

Crafting Characters
Romance remains one of the highest selling genres over time. 

Many romance novels rely on stereotypical characters that perpetuate a specific script for what constitutes true love, like flowers and candy, and romantic walks along the beach. But what if your characer is allergic to flowers, can't eat candy, and is afraid of water?

What people consider romantic is highly individual, based on their temperament, conditioning, culture, and past experiences.

Over the next few weeks, we'll examine the relationship styles of the sixteen mannequins featured in Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict and the Build A Cast Workbook

Keep in mind that each character could be male, female, transgener, androgynous, or alien life forms. When it comes to temperament, it really doesn’t matter. For the purposes of your fiction, you can play them any way you like. I gave my mannequins androgynous names and refer to them as he or she depending on whether there are more males than females in that temperament category.

1. Wynn

Wynn is all about making her partner happy and being appreciated for it. She needs cards, flowers, and romantic words. A distant, critical partner would annihilate her heart in under thirty seconds. She puts her partner first and looks for a permanent bond.

Wynn is emotionally intense, but guards her heart. She is happy with the traditional role assigned to her. She puts the comfort of her partner at the top of her to-do list. She is caring, empathetic, and willing to gloss over minor indiscretions. Her habit of keeping things to herself to avoid conflict leads to inappropriate scatter blasts of anger and resentment during a confrontation. She often says things she can’t take back. She becomes rigid when anxious. Those tactics won’t have the effect she desperately needs. She has difficulty leaving an abusive relationship and accepting that a relationship has ended. She blames herself and obsesses over what she could have done differently, especially if she feels she has been faithful and kept up her side of the bargain. She might remain faithful to the memory of a deceased partner.

Wynn’s selflessness puts her at risk of being taken advantage of or steamrolled. She hides her distress and keeps her resentment and anger under wraps until something comes along to uncork them. If she feels unappreciated, she leaves mentally or physically. It takes a lot of provocation to push her there. 

Wynn views sex as a way of strengthening the emotional bond. It is her duty to make sure her partner is happy. She is affectionate. She may not utter loving affirmations, but needs to hear them. She shows her love through gifts and small actions. She might go along with a kinky partner at first in an attempt to make him happy, but the situation will tear her down emotionally and the exit door is only one step away.

2. Francis

Francis is more interested in being right than being happy. He hates challenges to his authority and viewpoints. All is well as long as his partner accedes to his point of view and decisions. He might dominate but would react viciously to anyone who tried to dominate him. Francis is true blue and committed. He wants a permanent relationship. He takes the “until death do us part” vow literally.

Francis goes through the tradition of dating and wooing because it is expected, not because he prefers it. He struggles with huggy-touchy stuff. He is supportive and cares for his partner. If his partner points out he isn’t meeting her emotional needs, he does his best to meet them. He feels love passionately but struggles to express himself. He is faithful and loyal. He wants his home and family to run smoothly. He struggles with chaos and family members who don’t behave as they should. He imposes restrictions on his partner. He meets what he considers his obligations, which may not be the priorities his partner values.

If his partner berates him, he listens to the part that addresses functional points such as, “You need to take the trash out on Thursdays.” He ignores the emotional context, “You work too hard and are never home when I need you.” If he marries one of the feeling types, he could wreck her self-esteem.

Being right is very important to Francis. His partner may walk away if her point of view is never considered. He isn’t threatened by constructive criticism and can handle conflict without taking it personally as long as he isn’t called wrong. Leaving Francis requires a really good lawyer, or a shotgun.

Francis views sex as a physical release and his duty more so than an expression of emotion. He expects intimacy to occur on a scheduled basis. He brings home flowers and chocolates if he has been told it is expected, not out of inspiration or because he felt like it. He thinks his actions should speak for themselves. Working hard every day should count. He gives positive affirmations if his partner asks for them, even though he doesn’t need them. He deflects his partner’s attempts to praise him. The female version of Francis goes along with whatever her partner wants, though she is uncomfortable with anything out of the ordinary.

3. Nevada

Nevada’s currency is appreciation. He craves loving affirmations for working hard and providing for his partner.

Nevada takes commitment seriously and believes in living up to his obligations. He would not be a natural candidate for either submission or dominance.

Nevada avoids confrontation at all costs. He considers criticism, and the need to discuss a problem, as a personal attack. He is prone to depression and low self-esteem, so he could become submissive if warped by life. He is overly concerned with appearances and expects his partner to maintain them, so he would hide whatever he was up to.

He is good around the house. He takes care of things that need attention. He is cautious with money, because he thrives on security. He works hard to make life secure. He needs to belong: to institutions, teams, and his family. This makes him very social. He throws parties and attends events at work, social club functions, and community events. He expects his partner to participate. Pairing him with an introvert who hates parties is problematic.

Nevada needs a lot of positive reinforcement from his partner and resents it if he doesn’t get it. He is passive-aggressive in response and often does the wrong thing to elicit the adoration he craves. He won’t quit easily.

Nevada is warm and loving. He invests a lot of time and energy in making his partner happy. He views sex as an opportunity to express affection and considers withholding a deliberate insult. He is highly traditional, but eager to please his partner, so he is open to suggestion. He resists anything too out of the ordinary for fear that someone might find out.

4. Arden

Arden’s currency is gratitude and appreciation for his integrity. As long as his partner feels grateful and appreciates his hard work, things go smoothly. Arden fulfills what he sees as his commitment to the full extent of his capacity. When he chooses a partner, he plans to be with her forever.

Arden likes to be in charge and is controlling. He could become dominant, but it would not be his natural affinity. He works hard to provide financial security with a focus on the material things that signify success. He provides a secure home life, but makes room for fun and leisure. He schedules vacations. He expects his partner to do the right thing and be a good example in the community. He would be horrified to do something “unseemly.” 

He sees himself as a guardian. He freely gives positive feedback when he is impressed by his partner’s behavior or accomplishments. He is open and honest with his thoughts and opinions. He expects his wife to take part in the social requirements of his job and the community. Don’t pair him with an introvert who hates going out or there is war. A feeling character is hurt by his perceived criticism and overwhelming expectations. If his partner firmly, factually, and preferably unemotionally, expresses her unmet needs, he does his best to accommodate them. He wants to do what he is supposed to and takes care of details.

Arden would not consider divorce lightly. Problems arise if he doesn’t feel appreciated. His job is to shield and protect. He can carry that too far and infringe on his partner’s autonomy. His partner might not appreciate his instructions or guiding hand. Arden is a lively lover. He tends to be traditional and may be rather regimental in his expectations. He sees sex as a physical demonstration of affection rather than a spiritual communion. He may not remember to use sweet words. He expresses love through hard work and dedication.

Next week, we'll meet four more mannequins.

You can learn more about each mannequin  in Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, available in paperback and E-book and Story Building Blocks: Build A Cast Workbook, available in paperback and E-book.

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