It’s my belief that any story is, at its core, about relationships. Relationships between people or groups of people, usually: families, friends, lovers, enemies, warring countries/planets/galaxies, spies trying to outdo each other, whatever. A story about a boy and his dog making their way through the post-apocalyptic countryside is about a relationship. Or a story about a female fighter pilot and the only thing in the world she trusts – her plane – is about a relationship. Even a story about the last surviving scientist looking for a cure to a world-spread disease is about a relationship.
Now, my stories tend to examine relationships on a smaller scale, usually between two people, along with a supporting cast of eccentrics around them. Love stories. But it’s never just a love story. I like some kind of conflict (often external) that will rear its ugly head, and which my characters need to face together to overcome. Or die trying in the process.
My question, though, is – when you have an external conflict that the lovers must face – how much time can you spend building the relationship, first?
I like building relationships, myself, but in this age of short attention spans, if a storyteller spends a lot of time forging that alliance between the characters, will the reader get bored before the big ol’ conflict hits? What’s a reasonable amount of time to spend getting a couple together? What if I’m telling this story all wrong?!
Have you ever read a story and thought, “They would never get together that quickly!” Or, conversely, “Why is this truce taking so long?” What are your thoughts about this topic? I’d love to know!