In my work, my goal is to show that the hero is a better fit for the heroine, than the two men she married (or agreed to marry) before him.

The first husband uses his influence to get the woman a "vice-presidency" in a startup with less authority and remuneration than the other VPs.

The second prospective husband is a wealthy man won't help her in her career but offers the woman the luxuries of life as a consolation prize.

The third man is the CEO of his own company who pumps enough money into the woman's company (a supplier) to change that company's internal balance of power in her favor, as well as giving her an idea of how to take it over.

The woman is primarily motivated by her career, and largely judges her men by who helps her in this regard.

Given that all four people come from a similar social class, is this sufficient grounds for "fit," or do I need to get into other issues such as shared tastes or cultural similarities, etc.?

  • 1
    Aside from the obvious answer that this is your story and no one can help you decide what your heroine can fall for (or consider a more efficient connubial investment--may I suggest a spreadsheet-like feature comparison?) your question is phrased as a what-to-write request.
    – Lew
    May 23, 2017 at 16:41
  • 1
    It could be, however, quite a challenging yet revealing task--to explore your character through the prism of modern-day business-oriented approach to self-arranged marriage. Could lead to very interesting results.
    – Lew
    May 23, 2017 at 16:48
  • I am having a problem differentiating I-wrote-this-is-this-enough, should-I-write-more, and what-to-write questions. :-)
    – Lew
    May 23, 2017 at 17:25
  • 1
    @Lew: There are important differences. 1) A "what to write" question means, "I'm putting up 0%, please give me 100%. "Is this enough" means, am I at 100% or a lesser percentage? 3) Should I write more means, "I think I'm at 80%, what's the missing 20%? On SE sites, we encourage OP's to "self help," so we don't give 100% answers, but we will confirm 100% questions, and we will supply the missing 20%-30% for 70%-80% questions. On History (my strongest site) I will help others with a missing 20$-30% or even 50%. All I ask is that people "meet me halfway."
    – Tom Au
    May 23, 2017 at 17:30
  • 1
    Touche. I concede the fight. The spreadsheet approach has won. :-)
    – Lew
    May 23, 2017 at 17:31

2 Answers 2


Showing that one person is a better fit psychologically is very difficult, especially since we don't seem to know what constitutes fit or why one relationship works in real life and another does not. (I think the truth is that when people "fit" it is more because they grow together, grow around each other, than that they started out as two perfectly complementary jigsaw pieces.)

But stories are fundamentally moral, rather that psychological, and the almost universal formula for this in stories is the discovery or revelation of virtue. In its most basic form it comes down to what James Scott Bell calls the "pat the dog" moment. It is about one or the other demonstrating their moral value through an act of kindness.

There seem to be two main formulas for this:

  1. Virtuous woman is blind to the moral faults of her intended and/or the moral virtues of her alternate suitor. Events reveal the vices of the intended and/or the virtues of the alternate suitor. Woman switches her affections to alternate.

  2. Morally compromised woman pursues love for all the wrong reasons. Morally virtuous suitor pursues her (why?) and is rejected for not being good career material. Events force woman to face up to her moral inadequacies. She is reformed and sees spurned suitor in a new light. Must then persuade him that she has changed.

  • My story fits the second model. Thanks for your help.
    – Tom Au
    May 23, 2017 at 18:01

Use contrast.

  1. Put her into a situation with "unfit" person
  2. Have "unfit" person act in a way which causes conflict with her
  3. Describe how the behavior of "unfit" person annoys or harms her
  4. Put her into almost the same situation with "fit" person
  5. Have "fit" person act in a way which is favorable to her
  6. Describe how she enjoys the behavior of "fit" person

This situation doesn't have to be anything plot-critical. It can simply be a disagreement about something which shows that their views are too different or one which highlights a personality flaw of one person while highlighting a personality virtue of the other.

  • Yes, this is a very cheesy method of writing romance, but an author who wonders "How can I make absolutely sure that the reader's judgment of my characters is exactly the same as mine?" is already very deep into cheese territory.
    – Philipp
    May 24, 2017 at 11:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.