Life

This will be the final Romantic Obstacles posts, and I saved a good one for last.  This is the obstacle where life gets in the way, and the best name for it is simply Life.

This plays in different ways.  First, there is the “you don’t fit in my life but I fell in love with you anyway” variation.  A great example of this is the movie Sabrina. (I like the recent version, but I’m sure the older one works the same way.)  If you haven’t seen it, the chauffeur’s daughter falls in love with a son of the wealthy family that employs her father.  Often the objections in these scenarios come not from the couple but from the friends/family/colleagues of one or both of the couple.  You can also set it up to be one of the involved characters who balk, although the person in a lesser position is a better choice for the one to step back than the one who is well-off.  Remember, you always have to play these so neither character comes off as someone who the reader dislikes.

A second way life can get in the way is simple geography.  (See The Holiday for a great version of this.)  I live in Canada, you live in Arizona, we both have lives/jobs/families we don’t want to give up.  Of course, you have to start the story knowing this will be the obstacle, since you’ll need to find a way to bring the couple together if they live that far apart.  Visiting relatives, taking a vacation, or going somewhere temporarily for a job are all great ways to introduce a couple that will eventually need to overcome the obstacle of Life.

You may have other variations, but I’m going to share just one more.  This one ties into one of the Noble Cause obstacles, and is the “but I had plans” problem.  The characters’ lives fit together now, but one (or both) had plans that will pull them apart.  This is great to use when you have a couple that weren’t looking for romance when they got together, or perhaps when one has given up on a dream.  Of course, the plans can be small (I was going to live with my sister, I got in to a college across the country) or they could be big and even unexpected (my dad got sick, I was offered a major new job).  As long as they conflict with staying with the other person, they will work for this obstacle.

Remember when you introduce Life as an obstacle, you’re going to have to resolve it.  Just like the other obstacles, you want to make sure that you bring your readers along and play the characters out in the right way.  You don’t have to keep the couple together (as long as you are okay with irritated readers) but you do have to resolve the problem to finish the story.

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