Here’s a fun post from Chris Winkle at Mythcreants: Seven Ways to Bring Characters Together
You have a character that’s made from oozing lava, and another that’s a rolling snowball. They’ll make a great lava-snow duo, but right now they won’t so much as say hi. Don’t worry, storytellers have many tried-and-true plot devices for bringing characters from different walks of life together. Start by looking through these seven.
Yep, that’s an issue, and for me it can be a biiiig issue. It took a long while to everyone to get together in HOUSE OF SHADOWS, for example. That book may have offered the most separated plot threads I’ve ever had.
Let me see, long does it take the two lead characters to meet each other in WINTER OF ICE AND IRON (pre-orderable now for a mere $7.99)? It seems like forever but in fact they meet for the first time on page . . . let me flip through this copy here . . . page 205, at the beginning of chapter eleven. That’s a hair over a third of the way through the book, and then yes, one of these seven reasons does pressure them into becoming a team.
Oh, the seven ways Winkle mentions are:
1. Alliance of necessity
2. Have one hire the other
3. Start them off as antagonists
4. Give one leverage over the other
5. Make one guard the other
6. Make one investigate the other
7. Lead one to shelter the other
All of those are common, aren’t they? In WINTER, a common enemy provides the biggest push, which makes it a #1 type of situation, though there are aspects of some of the others as well.
It seems we should be able to find three more reasons, though the above are fairly broad and inclusive. Here’s one that’s pretty much missing from the above list, though:
8. They just happen to bump into each other and there is instant chemistry. That’s mostly for romance, and of course romances can use anything off that list, but the just-happen-to-meet thing certainly also happens in romances.
How would you characterize the romance in ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell, where the female lead isn’t aware of the male lead till right at the end, while he is falling in love with her by reading her emails? That’s certainly peculiar and seems like it deserves its own category, though how you would characterize that . . . maybe:
9. Falling in love long distance, with “long distance” meaning via letters, diary entries, and so on. Are there other examples of this besides Rowell’s book? Seems like I’ve got something right on the tip of my tongue.
It would be nice to get to ten. What about:
10. Have one impulsively rescue the other. Is that too similar to (7) above? I think it’s different. Think about Miri rescuing Val Con and vice versa in AGENT OF CHANGE. I’m sure there are other instances of sudden impulsive rescue followed by a partnership.
Of the batch, I’m not keen on (4), especially not if the character holding most of the cards is unlikable.
If the author can pull it off, I’m particularly into (3). Think of Nicholas Valiard and Inspecter Ronsarde in Death of the Necromancer.