Writing Exes that Get Along

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Way back when Clyde and Mab were gaming characters, their background was birthed from someone asking my girlfriend (now wife) and I a question.  It seems a lot of other couples played couples, but we didn’t.  Just never worked out that way.  So, we thought of trying with Clyde and Mab.  Within the first sessions, the characters began verbally sniping at each other about past offenses.  They were exes, who got along enough to work together.  It wasn’t really a nasty thing either.  My wife and I just began having fun poking at each other with embarrassing stories at the worst times or bringing up old arguments in the middle of a fight.  This really became an odd staple of their relationship, which I had to consider when carrying over to the books.

My first few attempts kept Clyde and Mab as exes, but there was always a chemistry between them.  We never really decided on how they broke up either.  In War of Nytefall: Loyalty you learn it’s because Mab caught Clyde in bed with Chastity, who had disguised herself as Mab to help with their relationship.  She thought it was a request because Mab wasn’t paying attention to the prior conversation.  Still, you can tell there are sparks between them still and them being separated is caused by a combination of Mab holding a grudge and Clyde deciding to go with the flow.  He does come off as being happy that she’s around and will take what he can get, which stems from a level of guilt about what happened.  Meanwhile, she has a lot of pride and tries to hide that she still has feelings for him.

There is a similarity to Delvin and Nyx where the latter was scared to admit her feelings.  A reason for this is because my wife played Nyx and Mab at the same time, so their personalities are similar.  I couldn’t change too much about this because they’re the two characters that she holds the closest to her.  So, I went with Mab holding herself back out of anger towards what happened and fear of getting hurt again.  This makes a lot of sense too even for an immortal vampire.  One could say it’s even worse because these are creatures that stay physically constant and that creates a kind of temporal lock on their mentalities.  We’d like to think immortals would toss away grudges and pride, but they have eternity to dwell on these things.  Unlike us, they can waste a good chunk of their unending life on such petty thoughts.

Still, Mab is really bad at holding herself back as anyone who read the books can see.  There are a lot of slips of the tongue with both of them, but Mab has it worse because she was in more emotional pain than Clyde for those 50 years he was buried.  It makes sense since she had no idea if he was alive or dead while he was focused on surviving.  The interesting thing here is that it doesn’t cross Clyde’s mind that he could have come out to a world where Mab is dead.  I’ve noticed this while writing him that it’s a difficult concept for him to believe until she’s in trouble.  They have a lot of faith in each other’s survival, but Clyde (the stronger of the two) seems a lot more confident of Mab than she does of him.  I think part of this is because she fears that he’ll go over the edge, so it’s more mental survival than physical that she’s concerned with.  After all, she’s one of the people tasked with putting him down if he becomes a full monster.  That’s a heavy weight even for a non-lover partner.

I really do like playing with this relationship too.  In War of Nytefall: Lost, you don’t see it as much due to the story focusing on Lost and the womb-born.  Yet, there are hints that things are taking an odd turn.  Other characters talk about how Nytefall is tense whenever Clyde and Mab are fighting.  They bicker like they’re together, so some characters think they’re an item once more.  I consider this book the ‘awkward’ stage of their relationship, which is steadily becoming a key piece of their story.  Clyde needs this connection more than any other because Mab keeps him centered and sane.  That’s why War of Nytefall: Rivalry is going to kick this subplot up so many notches that it will never be the same.

Funny how I tend to have a romantic subplot for my main characters.  I rarely make them clean too.  Luke/Kira/Sari was a train wreck, Delvin/Nyx was one-sided for a while, and Clyde/Mab were exes.  Honestly, I think the most stable relationship in all of my books is Xavier Tempest and Nadia Sylvan.  They’re happily married and have been for centuries with no real threats to their trust.  It’s kind of the opposite of where Clyde and Mab are when the series starts.

So, what do you think about writing exes?  What about the Clyde and Mab relationship if you’ve read War of Nytefall?

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.
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8 Responses to Writing Exes that Get Along

  1. I think it’s a wonderful idea. Relationships are never easy, and in the tense moments that occur in fiction they can bring out all kinds of interesting situations. Best to leave the happy relationships as supporting roles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie says:

    I know real-life situations like this. In fiction relationships like this create more conflict.


  3. I have never, but I think you do it so successfully.


  4. It’s not something I’ve ever needed to deal with in the kind of writing I do, and I haven’t read your War Of Nytefall books (got copies, plan to read them soon, but haven’t had a chance yet). But I thought you handled the relationships thing well in Legends Of Windemere.


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