Are Love Interests on Episode too Toxic??

Posted by u/topazqueenshizz on Reddit

My phone (for some reason) likes to give me updates about what’s happening on Reddit. I usually ignore them because I’m not much of a Reddit person, but this one caught my eye. I was actually a bit confused at first, but when it hit me I had to stop and think.

Is it true that most of us write about toxic misogynisitc men? If we are writing these kinds of characters what does that say about our experiences in this world? Do we even know what a “good guy” looks like?

The LI in my story, Liam, is supposed to be a gentleman, but at times he does come across as a bit controlling, especially where his sister is concerned. However, as the story progresses he learns to loosen up.

However, if you’ve watched, read, or listened to any media in the past 50 years you’ve probably realized that our culture tends to be drawn to the “bad guy”. That’s the dream right? Find the bad boy and be the girl who helps him turn good. But should that really be our dream? Is that what we should be writing about?

As writers I think we really need to look at this. Since many of the readers on Episode are still under 18, what kind of message do we want to send? If the guy is toxic maybe he’s someone that our MC should end up ditching in the end.

I think the main reason we write this way is because the main driving factor in a story is conflict. When you’re writing a love story, conflict with the LI just seems to happen naturally. It’s not like we set out to write a character who’s a horrible human being….most of the time. However, to have a good story our LI doesn’t need to be toxic.

Cinemasins has a great video about toxic masculinity. They give the example of Aragorn who has some conflicts with Arwen and yet he’s the perfect example of a guy who knows how to treat other people. He’s respectful, sensitive, and somehow still dark and mysterious enough to have captured the heart of many a teenage girl.

When we write we really need to know our characters. We need to pay attention to their motives and actions to determine if they’re really someone we want others to read about. While I’m not saying that we should never write toxic LI’s, because they are fun to read about, we need to consider our audience which on Episode is largely an impressionable group.

Feeling like your character might be toxic? Consider these questions:

  • Does my character grow out of bad traits? What causes these changes?
  • Is my character someone I’d like to see dating my child/parent/sibling etc?
  • How does my character talk to other people? What are their motivations?
  • Is the conflict in the relationship due to a major defect in the main LI or just common issues that everyone faces? If so, are we portraying this person as someone desirable or someone who is a HUGE mistake?

Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list. These are just some things I look at as I write my stories. I actually had to do some major revisions to Liam’s character. I also made changes to Rose (his sister) so that his apparent controlling behavior was more a result of her insecurity (and his lack of trust for his friend) rather than him not wanting her to be free to make her own choices. Does it make the story less interesting? I hope not.

In the end, you are the writer. You get to make the decisions about how your story progresses…just think about it first. That’s all I ask. Happy writing!