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Writing Odd Couples in Fantasy

The Bluestocking

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odd-couples.jpg


I'm writing my second novella featuring my Odd Couple partners-in-mischief/crime - a bouncy little kitsune and grumpy little water elemental - and I'm finding it endlessly amusing to follow them on their adventures and to develop their friendship. (And my writing group finds them entertaining as well.)

Anyone else here who likes writing books and stories featuring Odd Couples?

How do you avoid falling into stereotypes like "a pair of mismatched cops teaming up to solve a mystery for One Last Time" or the whole Sherlock-Watson dynamic?

Or do you prefer to just focus on one protagonist instead of a pair of them in a partnership?
 

Brian G Turner

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I have a fantasy piece odd-couple on the slow boil - arguably influenced by Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series (I've inserted a image from the Dark Horse comics adaptation of that to the opening post). However, I've been looking at ways in which to make it more refreshing, unique, and different. I do like to challenge tropes. :)
 

Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
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I'd add the Dark Lord and Minion but they'd only object to be called an odd couple.
 

Toby Frost

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Yes, I’ve been doing this of late. I suppose there’s always some element of this whenever two different characters work together, but I’ve only recently been trying to write an entire story like this, about a spy with a partial memory blank and a domestic robot reprogrammed for sabotage.

I’m not sure how you avoid the temptation for it to become cliched. There’s always the temptation just to write huge amounts of banter rather than progressing the story, which is probably more entertaining for the author than the readers. I think avoiding this, and perhaps avoiding either character changing from what they fundamentally are, is the way to go. If the story keeps going, and the interaction between the characters moves the story on instead of slowing it down, hopefully the reader won’t have the opportunity to get tired of it. I guess you could also have a situation where, thanks to biology or programming, they simply can’t change beyond a certain point.

I suppose a lot of odd couples are quite similar in structure. In the 1940s, George Orwell wrote about the crime series “Raffles” and noted that the odd-couple concept probably went back to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. One tends to be a hedonistic, streetwise, laid-back kind of guy, while the other (usually senior or more aristocratic) is uptight, unworldly and by-the-book (rather like the funny man and straight man of a comedy duo). It seems more common for the straight man to “lighten up” than for the streetwise guy to take life more seriously, although it does happen.
 

Luiglin

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There’s always the temptation just to write huge amounts of banter rather than progressing the story, which is probably more entertaining for the author than the readers.
An excellent example of how not to fall into the dialogue trap and arguably the best example of a odd couple is Wodehouse's, Jeeves and Wooster.
 

The Bluestocking

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There’s always the temptation just to write huge amounts of banter rather than progressing the story, which is probably more entertaining for the author than the readers.
Fortunately, my writing group helps me keep this in check. Tough love, man, tough love...

Also fortunately, my writing group finds the little squabbles and banter - when applied judiciously - entertaining.
 

ctg

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I write a lot of odd couples, some of them even being obviously gay. I even have interspecies relationships. I write them naturally, because I like write writing odd things. But I'm not GRRM, I cannot write things like brother shagging sister as some part of me don't want to even know about those sort of things. I want to write stories that I want to read, so I naturally write characters I'd like to meet and I don't care if they're strange in the public eye.
 

The Bluestocking

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I have a fantasy piece odd-couple on the slow boil - arguably influenced by Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series (I've inserted a image from the Dark Horse comics adaptation of that to the opening post). However, I've been looking at ways in which to make it more refreshing, unique, and different. I do like to challenge tropes. :)
What's hilarious is that people would look at the picture, then read my opening line about my kitsune and water elemental, then go: "But those two don't look like a kitsune and water elemental?!" :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

For the record, my Odd Couple are both female too. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

Al Jackson

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I have a fantasy piece odd-couple on the slow boil - arguably influenced by Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series (I've inserted a image from the Dark Horse comics adaptation of that to the opening post). However, I've been looking at ways in which to make it more refreshing, unique, and different. I do like to challenge tropes. :)
Boy Lieber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser was a revelation to me.
My maternal great grandmother had a big old Victorian house in Sherman Texas and an old dusty library with books that seemed unread for years. There I found a hardbound copies of Tarzan and Princess of Mars and some copies of Weird Tales from the 1930s. On visits I read the Burroughs books when I was 12 years old. The old magazines had Conan stories in them. I remember liking the Tarzan novel (I never saw another Tarzan novel until the reprint scandal ) , I did like the Howard sword and sorcery better than the John Carter.
Next year I turned 13 and discovered Heinlein , that killed reading Burroughs or Howard pretty much forever.
I did not know until my 20s that sword and sorcery could be not-adolescent when I read Lord of the Rings , which I liked a lot. A friend suggested Lieber and had a copy of Two Sought Adventure. I liked that and followed world of Nehwon as best I could tho I have a lot of gaps.
I am not a fan of Sword and Sorcery but the Lieber stories , like the Martian Song of Ice and Fire are pitched at a higher and more adult level that pulls me in.
There is probably other S&S that I am missing because I like science fiction better.
I do wonder if anyone has considered Lankhmar as a suitable visual narrative?
I am I am still surprised at Game of Thrones success, … I have liked that show from the get go.
 

Juliana

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I love a good non-romantic 'odd couple', I don't even mind if they're cliché (like the cop team-up type thing). I don't think I've ever written any myself. I mean, perhaps my demon succubus/angel descendent team up in my Blade Hunt books, but they have such a broship thing going on that I don't really think they're an odd couple exactly.
 

The Bluestocking

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I love a good non-romantic 'odd couple', I don't even mind if they're cliché (like the cop team-up type thing). I don't think I've ever written any myself. I mean, perhaps my demon succubus/angel descendent team up in my Blade Hunt books, but they have such a broship thing going on that I don't really think they're an odd couple exactly.
Maybe someday you'll stumble onto a pair just like I've stumbled onto mine (kitsune came first and then the water elemental just popped up) or maybe you'll have a pair by design just like my other Odd Couple (the two Reapers).

I swear I didn't set out to write Odd Couples. It just turned out that way and they are, strangely, much easier for me to write than a single main protagonist in some respects. Perhaps it's because their interactions can move the story along swiftly and not everything is riding on one character (which by extension means I avoid falling into The Chosen One trope)?

I also find that writing non-romantic/platonic/co-worker/buddy type Odd Couples is easier and far more versatile than romantic couples, mainly because there seems to be far more scope and leeway to develop the dynamics of a working partnership or a friendship in the long run and to see how both characters grow individually and in relation to their relationship.
 

chrispenycate

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I've got a somewhat unusual pair in my dragon series - a dragon/human marriage. Not shapeshifters or anything, so no physical compatibility - and no excess of mental, either. The marriage had been planned temporary, just a way to avoid a mutual problem, as without consummation t wasn't valid, but somehow it was never the right time to pull out of it, and it was as successful as most, even if the growing family was evidence of non-exclusivity.
 

mistri

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I like banter as long as it moves on the plot (or relationship too) but I'm not great at writing it myself. Maybe I need to read more of the good stuff first!
 

Brian G Turner

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does anyone know what comic is this from?
Sorry! I got it wrong - just found my own copies while looking for something else. The Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser comic adaptation the image is from was published by Epic Comics. :)
 
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