Friday, September 2, 2016

10 Different Kinds of Love to Use in Your Novel

Most of us have read about all of the different kinds of love. They're very neatly defined with scholarly greek names, most of them approved of or thought up by some prestigious philosopher or dude with a PhD. So what am I doing adding to that pile?

I think we all know that I'm not about to write a blog post about those kinds of love. Nope. This is Hannah's list of the main kinds of love that I've observed in novels. Some are overused, some underused, some are horrible, some are great.

1. Sibling Love

Sibling love can be a somewhat elusive thing, which is why it doesn't appear in books as often as one would expect. That being said, it is almost always a readers favorite because there is something incredibly touching about a well-written sibling relationship. Love between brothers and sisters can be characterized in many different ways, but I think it's unique in that dialogue between siblings is often very short, because they know each other so well they rely mostly on posture, facial expression, and setting to communicate. There's also the fact that siblings can call each other on their crap or tease the heck out of each other when others would feel uncomfortable doing so, which can make for some fun scenes. Sibling love is also one of the few types of love in which the characters involved are allowed to be exactly who they are, which is good for character development. Because of its fierce, loyal quality and the fact that it shifts as characters mature, this love can be difficult to write, but is beyond worth it. The Connolly siblings from The Scorpio Races are a great example of sibling love done right, as are the March sisters from Little Women. Loki and Thor's relationship is also an interesting one.
Suggested? YES!

2. Till The End of the Line Love

Also known as loyal love, this one has a lot of possibilities. While it can mean a character that worships another and doesn't think he can do any wrong, it can also mean a character who sees her friends flaws but sticks by her anyway. It can be the super nice character who would never hurt a fly unless you mess with his friend, in which case he'll rip out your heart and make you eat it. Or it can be the character who loves only one person and will stop at nothing to help that person reach his goal, even if that means using unscrupulous means. 
Suggested? Yes.

3. "Been Through Horrible Things Together" Love

This kind of love doesn't happen overnight. Often, it's something that is developed over the entire course of your novel. These are characters who were slightly chummy at first or perhaps didn't like each other at all, but end up learning to respect and lean on each other by making it through some hard ordeal together. 
Suggested? Yes.

4. "Just Kiss!" Love

The two characters that will end up romantically involved at some point, but are fighting it super hard. This is an acquired taste. Some readers love it, while other people like me hope that the couple will die so they'll stop ruining a perfectly good plot. Just don't have the characters constantly at odds over something completely absurd and don't drag it out. Avoid these problems and you should be fine. 
Suggested? Sure. Fine.

5. "You're a Dollophead" Love

None do this better than Merlin and Arthur. This is the sarcastic, teasing friendship-type love that comes from two people who think the other is an absolute moron while also grudgingly admitting to kind of enjoying said moron's company. It's an easy, non-demanding relationship that can be fun to write as well as read. 
Suggested? Yep.

6. "My Precious" Love

This is something that shows up often in Creeper Romance. It's passionate and jealous and destructive and often borderline abusive. But the guy is cute with his brooding eyes and the girl is lonely and needs somebody to love her, which totally makes it okay. 
Suggested? Absolutely not.

7. Parental Love

This is a conveniently avoided type of love, as parents are often tragically dead, dying, or missing in many novels. Parental love can be a tough thing to write, often because 1) If it's a YA novel, the teenagers are written incorrectly, which throws off any hope of a well-written parental love 2) It's not considered cool. Why are parents and their love not considered cool? Seriously. Let me tell you about some awesome fictional parents: Molly Weasley and her fiercely protective love for her rowdy kids, Atticus Finch and his desire to raise his kids correctly, the Cuthberts and their different ways of showing love to Anne in Anne of Green Gables, Marmee from Little Women working to keep her family glued together. And those are just a few. Parental love, while complex and maybe a bit difficult to write about, is not one that should ever be overlooked. 
Suggested? YES!

8. Dumb Romantic Love

I'm really not sure how else to describe this love except by using the word dumb. Because it is. Dumb characters do dumb things because they think they love another dumb character and it's just...dumb. Some people try to say, "Oh, but it's love! You don't think straight when you're in love!" Um. Okay. But there's a line between madly in love and dumbly in love. Find it. Go over it with a red highlighter. Don't ever forget it's there. 
Suggested? Ha-ha-ha-ha. Ha. Ha. NO.

9. Free Hugs Love

The character who has empathy for everyone. Please note: Empathetic love doesn't mean that the giver of this love doesn't see the flaws in another person. It doesn't mean he (or she) is weak, naive, or dumb. It just means that the giver's heart is big enough and strong enough to love all people whether or not they receive anything in turn. 
Suggested? Yep. 

10. Misguided Love

Often found among villains or anti-heroes, these are the characters who just want to love and be loved and go about reaching this goal in all the wrong ways. Friend wants a horse? Let's steal one for her. Dad doesn't appreciate me? I'll engineer his near-death and then save him so he can see what a great guy I am. This is a very tumultuous love that can quickly turn into hate. It can be written incorrectly or in a damaging way more often than not, so approach with caution. Redemption is always a good direction to move with this one.
Suggested? Sometimes, in the right hands. 

These are some of the kinds of love that show up most commonly in novels (or that I wish showed up commonly in novels). They can be mixed and matched to form nuanced, deeper kinds of love, like the way you mix together paints to come up with unique colors. 

What do you think? Are there other kinds of love you'd like to include into this list? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post! And don't forget to tell me about a fiction couple (romantic or nonromantic) that you thought was well-written.

Related articles:
8 Different Kinds of Strength to Give Your Characters
Romance in YA Novels: The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid

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  1. So much yes in this post. I love "Been Through Horrible Things Together Love" and "Sibling Love."

    I wish someone would put "My Precious" love in a book for the explicit purpose of destroying it and showing how terrible it is because I am so dang tired of seeing it romanticized. *sigh*

    1. Those are two of my favorites, too.

      And yes, I've actually considered writing a book where a character tries to go "My Precious" love on another character and gets immediately slapped upside the head. Why is this kind of love sill prevalent in fiction? I mean, we all saw how it worked out for Gollum. =D

      Thanks for the comment, Katie!

    2. Oh I'm so glad I'm not the only one! I actually have a book idea in mind for this very thing ("my precious"love destroyed).

    3. Write it, write it, write it! I'm sure it would be awesome. =) And something people need to read.

    4. Haha! I love your passion against cliches, Hannah! I actually have 'my precious' love in my novel and the creep is strongly discouraged. He bullied my female lead when they were young, and now that they're stuck in the same palace again he thinks its okay to resume his cruelty but in a seductive way, but she shuts him down pretty quick. She's sensible. She doesn't find creepy stalker possessiveness to be attractive, and she sure as heck doesn't flirt back.
      I haven't decided if he'll actually love her in the end or if he continues to see her as a tool. Either way, she won't blindly reciprocate those feelings. If he shows change, she may tolerate his presence in the end. :P
      But yes, I hate it when dreamy-eyed bad-boy gets all over-protective and sketchy on the lonely drop-dead-gorgeous female lead. *vomit*
      Another cliche I'm fighting against is the female lead marrying the first person she falls in love with...because that's just not realistic. I can see where it makes sense in a short standalone novel, but I love it in series' where it's a few boyfriends down the line before she gets married. Tamora Pierce is a YA author who I've found to have gloriously talented and cliche-free writing.

  2. I love this list! I wish you had included "Married Love" though.

    Many YA novels (and novels in general) seem to miss including a good image of this. I'm talking about the loyal and supportive love that exists between two people who are fully aware of the other person's faults but still chooses to love them. There are the nuances of knowing each other very well, but without the lifelong familiarity of siblings (unless they're couple of 50+ years). There is a lot of depth to be had with this sort of relationship, especially if the main character can look up to/learn from this relationship. Or even better, a YA main character that is married.

    I had expected you to mention Married Love so I was a little disappointed that it didn't show. Nevertheless, a great list, as always!

    1. This is a great comment, Amanda! I'm disappointed in myself for not including married love. While writing this post I had the nagging feeling that I was missing a major, very important point, but couldn't think of what it was. Now I remember. *sigh* So let me add to the post:

      ATTENTION EVERYBODY: Married Love is AWESOME. It should be included in novels. It's is closest to "Till the End of the Line" love, only deeper and stronger and involves a lot of work and respect and friendship.

      As you said, it would be really neat to have more main characters who look up to married love, or even more main characters that are involved in a good marriage.

      Thank you SO MUCH for this comment. Great points and I agree with you 100%.

  3. Oh my gosh I "love" this!

    Sorry I couldn't resist...

    Seriously though, this is a great and beautiful post, Hannah! You were spot on with your book and movie examples too.

    123 and 7 are my personal favorites.
    Sibling love is so fun, and seems to have been swapped for rivalry and bitterness lately...
    Same with parental love which they also need to remedy! There are good parents out there.

    Sharing hardships is a great example to develop a strong devotion and love for someone--seen that in a lot of plots! Be it romantic or deep friendship.

    "Til the end if the line"...ooohh, that line always gets me. That is my favorite kind of love example, loyalty. The kind that won't walk away for anything and will trust you even when the world doesn't. *sigh*

    The Bible has all of these examples to doesn't it? The "be devoted to one another in brotherly love" verse just came to mind.:)

    By the way, have you ever read the Fallen Star saga or Lokistone saga written by Christian authoress Alydia Rackham?

    She is, in my opinion, the best author of this century---whoa, that's pretty strong coming from someone who is very critical of what I read, but honestly, she is awesome.
    Her stories are amazing, her dialog and descriptions are out of this world, and she wrote a fantastic Harry Potter story called What The Room Requires. She has many more.
    You would love her stories Hannah! They have changed my life, in such a good way... And they cover all the good types of love you mentioned.
    Her work is online and free to read.

    Sorry,I'm rambling! Thank you for this post Hannah! I'm taking notes:)

    Have a great day!


    1. Lol! I love that you love this post. =D

      The Bible does have a lot of great examples of these kinds of love. The love between Ruth and Naomi is one of my favorites.

      I have never read anything by Alydia Rackham, but based off of your recommendation I'm going to have to give her a shot. She sound awesome! Thank you for telling me about her.

      Thank you for the awesome comment. No need to apologize for rambling. Your kind of rambling is the best kind. =)

  4. Great post!
    I especially like reading 2, 5, 7, and 10 type loves. Are you familiar with the book series "Ranger's Apprentice"? That has some GREAT "dollophead" friendships.

    1. I keep hearing that the Ranger's Apprentice is very good, but I haven't read it yet. I plan to soon, though, especially now that I know it has dollophead friendship. It's one of my favorite kinds. =D

    2. Good to know! Definitely bumping it up on my TBR list.

  5. I always get SO excited when I see that you have a new blog post! Keep up the fabulous work!!!

  6. Love this post! ;) My favorite kinds of love to read about are 2, 3, 5, and 7. And now I kind of want you to write a story with two "just kiss" characters that are killed off to save the plot...I'm just saying, I'd love to read that story! :)

    1. Haha! Don't tempt me, Ellen. I'm always resisting the urge to write a satirical book with tons of cliche, annoying character ("just kiss" characters included). Maybe once I finish my current project. =D

      Your favorite kinds of love match up almost exactly with my own. You have good taste. =) Thanks for the comment!

  7. Great post as always, Hannah. I have several strong sibling relationships in my current work in progress. It's a tricky thing to write because there's so much that goes on under the surface and so little that actually gets said. 'Together Til the End' and 'Been Through Horrible Things Together' are also two of my favorites. But marriage is definitely one of the most underrepresented kinds of relationships in fiction, and it's such a shame. I love the relationship between Molly and Arthur Weasley in "Harry Potter". They're very different people, and they each do things that drive the other one crazy. They argue a lot, but they never fight. Their love for each other is unconditional.

    1. I also love the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. I wish we could have more married couples like that popping up in novels.

      I'm excited to hear that your WIP features sibling love! Go Tamara!

  8. One line particularly stood out to me. 'but I think it's unique in that dialogue between siblings is often very short, because they know each other so well they rely mostly on posture, facial expression, and setting to communicate'
    I have a pair of sisters in my book and I think I've had them saying to much, and not having enough subtext in their communication.

    I also need to work on the parental love. in some spots it works and in others I've done something wrong.

    And I agree with everyone saying that married love is an important one. There's some books I love with it. (meaning there are many books I love which don't.) I wish I had more opportunity to show it in my own writing. But if it doesn't fit, it doesn't.

    1. Yikes. It's awesome that you caught the "too much dialogue" early, though. I'm sure you'll be able to fix it. =) Parental love can be hard, too, much for the same reasons that sibling love can be hard. There's a lot of subtext and so much emotion that it can be hard to write about accurately.

      Thanks for the great comment, Anna!

  9. Hey Hannah :) Longtime lurker on your blog. Outing myself.
    I was comparing this list of Loves to my manuscript and I noticed how these expressions of love overlap in my story. Do they do that in yours?

    For example, Loyal Love to the "End of the Line" has similar character development to the "Been through Horrible Things Together" love. In my novel, two best friends start out with loyal love initially fostered by temperament and shared burdens. The love adds another dimensional layer as the characters fight back, discover freedom and take risks.

    What other kinds of love will overlap and progress into one another in a good, well developed story? Which ones NEVER will and would be implausible?

    "Love" hearing your take on things.

    1. Hi Khai! I'm always excited when lurkers post their first comment. =) So happy to hear from you! Welcome.

      It sounds like you have a great best friend dynamic going on in your story. Mixing loyal love and "been through horrible things together" love can make for a great relationship. Go you!

      Free hugs love and end of the line love can go together very well: The character who has been with her friend through thick and thin and is always there for emotional support.

      Dollophead + just kiss love can actually be pretty fun. You can also mix sibling love with parental love if there is a large age difference between siblings.

      As far as which ones don't go together: Free hugs and my precious love. You can't have a character who is willing to sacrifice everything for another person and puts other people's emotions first, but is also absurdly possessive. It just doesn't work.

      What a great question! Thank you so much for the insightful comment. I love hearing from you!

  10. This was a great post! I'll have to keep it in mind!:D

  11. "I'm with you 'till the end of the line, pal." -Bucky Barnes

  12. I'm quite late to comment here but how about unrequited love? I've rarely seen it done well in YA, especially in fantasy. Dunno why but unrequited love is absent from YA fantasy a lot.

    1. Ah! Good one. I think I see the "fake unrequited love" angle played a lot: Where the character loves somebody, but thinks it isn't mutual only to find out that it actually is. =) Now that you mention it, unrequited love is a good (and fairly rare) one. I would certainly be interested to see this used long as the unrequited lover doesn't get creepy or possessive about it. =D Thanks for the input!

  13. Wonderful post! Extremely helpful, thanks a million Hannah!

    How you ever read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis?
    It's really a amazing book (like absolutely everything is from Mr. Lewis!) and I just thought you would enjoy's very similar to your post here about different types of loves. Now from what I've learned from both of you excellent authors/explainers, I will hopefully create unique and realistic characters my readers and myself will "love"!

    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed this! And yes, I have read The Four Loves. I'm a massive C.S. Lewis fan. I actually pulled it out for guidance while writing this post. =D

      I'm sure your characters will be/are amazing! Happy writing!

  14. Hi Hannah!
    So, what do you think about From Best Friend To Being In Love? I'm working on a series where one of the subplots is this guy and girl being best friends since they were practically toddlers and when they're older events happen (I don't want to give too much away) that bring them closer together and they fight the temptation to fall in love because they don't want to risk losing their best friend, but in the end it all works out. Is that too cheesy or would it be good?

    Katharina (Katee) Hoffman

  15. I might be coming into this a little late, but I would like to add rivalry love? (Sorry if someone already said this one!) But rivals can be really fantastic in my opinion, if it's done right that is! The one I'm saying is like Tony Stark-Steve Rogers dynamic, they don't agree on all things and it can get tense but in situations that call for it, they can prevail and work together as a powerful pair.
    What I DON'T MEAN - they abuse and attack each other, but make out for...some reason. I want rivalry and conflicting interests, but not downright abuse.
    I'd just like to hear other thoughts on this subject?


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