First Impressions

No matter what romantic obstacles you throw at a couple, it’s hard to overcome a bad first impression.  Another way to think about this challenge is the “But I Don’t Like You” problem.

This obstacle has to be set up at the beginning of the story.  The basic concept is that you have two characters who will eventually be a couple but neither of them knows that.  In fact, based on their first interactions, they don’t like each other.  (It’s even better if they can’t stand each other.)  Then, throughout the course of the story, their relationship develops, but both of them have the initial “but I don’t like you” response to their own feelings which prolongs the time before they finally give in and get together.

You can set this up in many ways, but unlike some of our other obstacles this one is fairly straightforward overall.  There are infinite variations on characters that can make them start off with a negative response: differing backgrounds, hostile settings, personalities that clash, working against each other, opposite opinions on an issue, the list can go on and on.  From there, it’s simply a matter of writing them so they dislike each other.

The one thing to remember is that you have to set it up so that this initial dislike is possible to overcome, hopefully in a believable way.  Ideally, the bad first impressions are strong but superficial, so as the couple are forced to interact, the reason for their animosity is washed away.  People also change, even in real life, so if the cause of the irritation is a personality quirk of one of the characters, they can develop in a way that makes it a moot point.  You can also set characters up to show themselves as deeper/nicer/smarter than they first appear to each other by putting them in a situation that lends itself to serious conversation or personality-revealing behavior.

Remember, like all of our obstacles, this one can be used in conjunction with others.  Throw in a love triangle or unspoken truth as they are overcoming their first impressions, and make them work even harder!  (The movie Cutting Edge is a great example of this!)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Nicole W.
    Apr 12, 2012 @ 06:47:27

    Toe pick! Good movie reference, I love that movie.

    Reply

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