Writing Relationships- When to Ship and When to Friendzone

Oh, how us fans love our relationships. Calling them ‘ships’ for short, we pair up two lovebirds who are meant for each other and imagine them in every romantic setting, no matter how cheesy it seems. But when should relationships in your writing be platonic or romantic?

Romance has become the cliche to end all cliches that everyone still loves. Writers pair up two people and everyone goes nuts. This annoys me to no end. Somethings, two people should just be friends. They don’t always have to fall in love. More often than not, writers create a female character that only fills the role of ‘love interest’ for their hot male lead. That’s it. That is the starting point of their character development. Everything is centered around their imminent relationship. It makes me want to break something. Maybe the writer’s hand for thinking that was actually a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong, romance can be wonderful, but only when it’s written right. You need to decide if the two characters you want to marry are really a good fit for each other. According to the fans of Marvel, the writers made that mistake with Hawkeye and Black Widow by giving Hawkeye a wife.

Since the ‘Clintasha’ (Clint and Natasha) topic is the trigger button of many a shipper, I should probably address it. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers spend a few nights at the farm of Clint, and his wife and kids. This sent the fandom insane, especially those who shipped the witty Clint and the skilled Natasha. They were meant for each other, but Clint’s already married? Why?

There are both pros and cons for the writers to make this choice. I’ll start with the cons, since everyone is so mad about it.

Image result for clint and natasha

Look at them, how can you NOT ship them?!

The two were SHIELD agents, fighting against evil with an extremely well-developed relationship. Natasha beat the mind controlled Clint to a groaning pulp, but was still there to talk to him about the experience and work through it. Clint had her back on every mission and was able to match her comments with witty answers. Platonic or romantic, this relationship was real, strong, and wonderful. But then came Laura Barton.

I don’t like hating on characters that aren’t written to be hated, but this woman has never been brought up in any other part of the story before Ultron. Yes, the relationship between Clint and Natasha is unchanged, but the writers have missed a major opportunity by not letting the two get together. Instead they crammed in an awkward, underdeveloped relationship. It was even the reason they made Clint ‘retire’ in Captain America- Civil War, which honestly everyone knew was temporary. Making Clintasha platonic has hit a serious blow in the fanbase, making more than a few people mad.

Letting the relationship of Hawkeye and Black Widow grow more romantic gives the audience a relationship they love, that they want to see more of, that they truly want to succeed. Instead they threw in a rush job that if they truly wanted, should have had more time to develop. Let us meet his wife without a bigger threat looming overhead. Tell us why we should care about Clint and Laura.

There was also another way they could have gone with this idea, discussed in the Tumblr thread below.

either way, gimme more screen time for Clint and Nat:

For those who have difficulty reading the text, it shows an alternate scene in which Laura is not Clint’s wife, but his sister. Tumblr user aroskywalker discusses how this would be better than a wife. Clint’s still developed, a sister is still important, parallels to the Maximoffs, and more characterization with only five minutes really changed. Plus, it still gives the Avengers a place to go with the threat of Ultron.

Now here comes the part that would make the shippers mad. The benefits of another love interest for Clint.

Clintasha has become platonic in full canon, but that doesn’t mean the writers have backed themselves into a corner. There are many interesting ways they can take a platonic relationship. There are many interesting angles (which could still be explored in the sister idea) of a platonic relationship. All the writers have to do is take advantage of this.

So this is an example of a ‘sunken ship’ (a ship that can never be real in canon) that did not fair well with the fans. So how do you prevent that mistake, and still make the right call about your characters?

Take a step back from the two characters and figure out their personalities. How well do they mix together? What makes them like each other? Could it develop into something more? Also, look at their backstories. Characters with similar backstories could have a more likely chance to connect and fall in love due to shared experiences.

The extent of their relationship in the end depends on what you feel would work with your story. Maybe there’s another character they could fall for, or maybe they could simply be best friends. They could even be enemies, coming out of their past with different, conflicting views. Go with what you feel is right. If you truly want two characters to be together, maybe tweak a few points of their personalities and backstories to help them fall deeper in love. Don’t base your entire character on their relationship, however. Make sure both characters can stand on their feet before one sweeps the other off and carries them away.

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