These types of relationships can be some of the most interesting and enjoyable, both to read and write, because they show us many sides of the same characters and the growth from a hatred to mixed feelings and finally to genuine love and acceptance is often heartwarming to experience. But relationships like also require finesse to portray in a believable, healthy manner.
1. Stay away from abuse.
A hate to love relationship is not an “abuse to love” relationship, and none of these tips are aimed toward writing such a thing. Check this list for things to keep out of your healthy end-game relationships.
2. These characters need to be ‘ship-able’ already!
If your character would not naturally end up in the end-game relationship, you’ve got a problem. The character’s ability to be friends – shared interests, enjoyment of each other’s company, comparability in communication – is crucial for the transition from hate to love.
1. Examine why the characters hate each other.
There’s a slew of different reasons two characters might start out hating each other, including (but certainly not limited to):
In order to pull off the first part of the relationship – the hate – you have to both have a reason for the characters to hate each other and convince the reader that the reason is a good reason.
Unless you’re writing in omnipresent, you’re telling the story through your character’s eyes. No matter how good their current ‘enemy’ may be on the inside, the pov character won’t be looking for that goodness. They’ll see all the flaws and turn offs they anticipate the character to have, and this will likely (hopefully) effect them on an emotional level the reader can connect with.
2. What needs to change for this hate to be repealed?
Hate to love relationships can be broken into two basic categories: misunderstandings and ‘worth-the-hatred’s.
Misunderstandings: These two characters are both genuinely decent people. They should have areas in which they need to grow, but it’s not their flaws that make them hate each other, but rather a lack of knowledge. In order for hate to transition to love, the characters need to be forced to look closer at who the other person is and start to understand them.
The simplest way to initiate this is to force the characters to work together on something. Present more and more opportunities for them to show all their good qualities and shut down the misconceptions through actions.
‘Worth-the-hatred’s aka ‘I need character growth before I can be with you’s: One of both of these characters have wrong or hurtful beliefs (causing equally wrong and hurtful actions) which they need to confront and move past before they can be in a healthy loving relationship.
A character development (often in the form of a redemption arc) is absolutely needed as a foundation for this change. Keep in mind from the relationship standpoint that the other character will have no reason to trust the redeemed character has grown as a person unless they witness the growth firsthand, and even then they aren’t likely to run to the other’s arms without another thought. Growth should lead to gradual acceptance and then the further developing of the relationship.
While slow burn is nice but not necessary for your average romance, it is often great for hate to love relationships, as the relationship must gradually move from hatred, to acceptance of the other person, to friendship, and then finally to something deeper.
But how slow is slow enough? This all depends on how much focus the character’s relationship is given. You can have a hate to love relationship take place in a shorter story if the story is focused directly on the two characters and they have no periods of backsliding, but it may take three whole books for a similar hate to love relationship to realistically run its course if the romance is a side plot filled with misunderstandings and drama.
Plotting things out. For those of you who like to do a bit of outlining before writing, (or who are trying to tweak a rough draft that didn’t turn out quite smoothly enough) here’s a nice, simple question-answer format you can adjust to your basic hate to love needs:
The romance. (Or the platonic love.)
For more on writing healthy, friendship based romances, go here!
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