The WHY Dilemma

I’ve been writing again, which is great, but I’ve rejoined my manuscript only to find that the same problems it had when I left off are still problems. The primary one I’m focused on right now is character motivation.

In my story, an incredibly clever, fun, beautiful girl from a good family REALLY likes someone it doesn’t make sense for her to like, and I’m not sure how to solve this problem.

My first instinct was to reveal something in the past that made her like him… even though it seems like he’s an idiot who she could never have true affections for, maybe there’s something more to him than we’ve seen. This is my favorite solution to the problem because it overcomes a few additional problems with their friendship, including the fact that they don’t have much positive chemistry (they’re awkward together) and they don’t have anything in common. Also, she’s not driven completely by emotions, and this solution offers the opportunity to involve her mind in the attraction.

My lazy instinct is to say that she can’t control who she likes. It doesn’t matter how smart she is or how wrong the match is, we sometimes love people we oughtn’t to love and there’s no reason or logic to it. She loves him because she does.

The problem with ALL solutions is that they either elevate his character or degrade hers. Every time I try to write a moment where she sees something deeper and valuable in him, it makes him seem lovable; it makes him into a secretly good guy… and he isn’t. He’s a mess in the he-needs-therapy sort of way. He’s a depressed partier who can’t seem to get a break in life and just makes his own situation worse by his foolishness and uncontrollable emotions. So I can’t make him it seem like he’s redeemable. It ruins the story if he’s redeemable. And she loses some of her credibility and lovability if she loves someone who is unredeemable.

Now… when I take this into real life, it’s completely plausible to me that she would be an amazing girl in love with an idiot. The question is how to make it plausible in the story.

So I thought I’d start by polling you good people…

Why do amazing people fall in love with wretched ones? Is it the way they look? Is it a desire to redeem them? Is it impossible to answer this question? Have you ever loved an unredeemable person? Why did you love him or her?


5 thoughts on “The WHY Dilemma

  1. My dilemma is why Jesus would seek to love and redeem me — the unlovable ugly depraved dark sinful me! Why would he chose to seek me out? It’s not a perfect match right? Sinner with sinless Perfector. Dirty with clean, ugly with beauty, sinner with Savior…well, you get the picture. Why would someone amazing (as God) seek a relationship (pursue) with me?? It doesn’t make sense–and yet, I am eternally grateful He did!

    • Good call. 🙂 Perhaps that ought to be the point in my story… because sometimes a little piece of that divine, inexplicable love spills into our human relationships too. And maybe we don’t need to (and can’t) explain it.

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