Partners in Fiction: Writing Duos of the Dynamic & Non-Dynamic Variety

Lucifer and Maze

Lucifer and Maze

Cassidy and Lloyd differ from most of my other stories because they aren’t part of an ensemble cast.  They’re a duet with neither character having a true claim to the main protagonist role.  Some chapters have Cassidy doing more than Lloyd and others have her along for the ride.  Typically, we have a main hero and a sidekick, but these two didn’t turn out that way.

I have to admit that writing a duo makes scenes easier to keep track of.  In Legends of Windemere, I have 6 champions and Fizzle at least.  In the Bedlam Series, I have only the two at minimum, which might be another reason why I find these books a lot more refreshing than the others.  Less juggling in that respect.  Yet, it’s also hard to make sure they stay on equal footing.  A sidekick is easy to push into a corner when you want to, but doing that to a partner weakens them.  For example, you can have Batman go on an adventure without Robin and nobody thinks anything of it.  Lloyd going off without Cassidy or vice versa doesn’t work too often because neither has been established as the main hero.  You can give them a reason to split up like fighting, kidnapping, shiny objects, migraines, etc.  That’s different than one simply not being there because the adventure had nothing to do with them.  Mess with one and you mess with the other.

One thing I’ve definitely learned is that you have to make them compliment each other while retaining their individuality.  Lloyd is a close range fighter with a wild personality and not much knowledge of the Shattered States.  Cassidy prefers guns and is more restrained in personality while being the expert on the region.  She can still fight with a knife or her fists while Lloyd has his paintball gun and an almost ninja-like ability to get within stabbing range.  They have their specialties, but do require each other to truly survive.  Maybe this is more suited for their genre since it focuses more on staying alive than accomplishing a quest.

I find myself flying by the seat of my pants on this one because I’m so used to working with more than two characters in most book chapters.  Looking like I have a lot of unlearning to do from my Legends of Windemere years, but I’m having fun with the new dynamic.  I can use this for when I have characters with similar relationships.  Not that the champions didn’t have this, but there were so many to juggle.  I keep trying to think of any partnerships that are similar to Lloyd and Cassidy, but they’re fairly unique within my pantheon of ideas.  At least with male/female partners. There’s no romance or even hints of such a thing between them, which makes them stand out and creates a different sense of equality to them.  Not really sure how to explain that, but I guess equality with romantic love is different than equality with friendship love.

It’s funny since this was originally going to be an ensemble story, but it got chopped down to a pairing.  Sometimes things just work out for the best.  So, what do you think about writing duos?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
This entry was posted in Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Partners in Fiction: Writing Duos of the Dynamic & Non-Dynamic Variety

  1. Pingback: A good view on characterization! | James Harrington's Blog of Geek and Writing

  2. I really like them. I tend to call mine buddy stories for the ones where they have an equal footing. I also use the mentor – student relationship on occasion. My next projects will include a buddy story, and a happily married couple in an unhappy story.

    Like

    • I’m remembering the ‘buddy cop’ movies from way back. Not sure they do those any more, which is a shame. I’ve been unsure if I should call the Bedlam books a buddy series. There’s something innocent and primarily comedic about it. Doesn’t seem to fit with the more violent and chaotic atmosphere in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. spritzyclover says:

    I’d never really considered that… wow… I’ve always preferred dynamic duos especially in relationship building with characters. I think it makes for more realistic and relatable characters. Why haven’t I thought to incorporate this into my writing… I have a lot of revision to do…

    Like

    • Thanks for the reblog. Glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve never really been clear on the definition of dynamic duo. Going solely by Batman & Robin, it makes me think of partners with one higher up the food chain than the other. That or they basically have the same skill.

      Liked by 1 person

      • spritzyclover says:

        Hmm.. I guess I’m a little unclear too. I do prefer partners to be complimenting of each other for the same reasons. I tend to just run in my writing to focusing on one person, and somehow trying to make their feelings towards the cornered sidekick realistic. It’s then that the feelings are hollow, and I struggle as writer to make the characters and their relationships with one another breathe.
        Do you find the same problem in your own writing, or have you found a different way to combat that bear trap?

        Like

      • I’ve never really run into that, but I’m an insane planner. I write character bios that include how they think of the others and a short personality explanation. If I’m really stumped, I do test scenes where I just have the characters interact in a casual scenario like talking over breakfast or planning a job. Doesn’t seem like this is the norm. It’s a real trick to make everything seem natural. Sometimes it’s right in my head, but I find that readers don’t see it the same way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • spritzyclover says:

        “Sometimes it’s right in my head, but I find that readers don’t see it the same way.” –truer words are hard to find.

        Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I’m definitely a flow person. I plan things out and the characters lead it differently. The moment I try to take the reigns, the story falls apart 🙂 An example of this is where I’m play testing my main character at the moment to kind of sort out how he acts in fighting situations–I assumed that it would set him in a position as a mercenary that attacks a trading caravan. He decided to be a little different and protect the caravan instead. As a mercenary. So while I might have a deep understanding of the main plot points and endings, and even a deep understanding of the characters and their backstories, but it’s really my characters that guide the story. I’m just supervising.

        Like

      • You’re welcome. Always happy to talk shop. Great way of explaining things with the supervision example. I do allow for characters to take the reins at times. Helps to keep a balance between planning and free-flowing. Found that while most authors have a preference, they tend to have some habits from the other school.

        I have one character that started as a one scene toss away. Then she slipped into a few others and eventually got pretty high on the supporting cast list.

        Liked by 1 person

      • spritzyclover says:

        I really adore when characters do that. You kinda throw a name out and all of a sudden, there’s a character that really wants to play too.

        Like

      • It can be fun. Though this managed to undo several future plot lines and other character rewrites.

        Liked by 1 person

      • spritzyclover says:

        That’s why perfectly written series need to be rewritten after one revision. It’s why we’ve been waiting on the Kingkiller chronicles to finish for years.

        It’s complicating, but there’s no way around it when they fit and move the story in such a way as they do.

        Like

      • I’ve never been a fan of total rewrites, which is why I plan stuff beforehand. Just feels like something went horribly wrong if 90% of the first draft is junked

        Liked by 1 person

      • spritzyclover says:

        Yep… I feel like the main plot points should at least stay in tact. That’s the way stories work. Fluff can change.n

        I’ll stop taking up your comment section 🙂 it was very nice talking to you!
        I look forward to reading more of your posts!!

        Like

      • Nice talking to you too. I’ve heard some varied opinions on fluff. Some thing it’s the natural vibe of a story that should remain intact. Others think it’s pointless and should be cut. We authors can be such odd creatures at times. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  4. spritzyclover says:

    Reblogged this on .How the Fairies Roam. and commented:
    Check out this insightful post by Charles Yallowitz, author of Legends of Windemere. I need to really work on this in my own character relationships.

    Like

  5. L. Marie says:

    I love a duet. Cassidy and Lloyd are such opposites, so conflict is a natural.

    I wish I could write a good duet. I can barely get one voice straight.

    Like

    • It’s funny how they’re opposites in some ways, but similar in another. I think they’ll be closer in wavelength in the second book. Especially since they have a playbook with ridiculous names that they argue about at times. That was a ton of fun because it was so random.

      Like

  6. twixie13 says:

    Reading about pairs of characters is always fun. In my own stuff, I go that route with Travis and Spencer sometimes. Sure, there are times that they’re not together due to other relationships (one has a girlfriend, the other’s married), work (one works at a comic shop, the other at the hospital), and the fact that one of them has this uncanny ability to get his sorry ass in trouble. I could have each one work alone, but it’s a lot more fun to have them together.

    Like

    • That’s one of the fun things with friendship ties. You don’t need them to always be around each other. I think there’s also more flexibility in these because romance has more boundaries and rules. For some reason, I keep thinking about the Leonard/Sheldon and Raj/Howard friendships in Big Bang Theory. I find them more entertaining than the rest of the show.

      Like

  7. It’s like Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, the classic sword-and-sorcery team by Fritz Lieber. One was big and strong while the other was smaller and fast, but they both were smart.

    Or Holmes and Watson, one super-smart and the other more sensible. I think duos work really well.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s