Let’s talk about OTPs // in appreciation of slow burn + healthy relationships

Today we’re going to talk about slow-burn love stories which happens to be one of my favorite types of relationship development under the sun. It’s right up there with enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers. I will freely admit that I am basically giving myself a chance to rave (hopefully with some semblance of intelligence) over two couples that caught my attention and inspired my writer self last year.

The OTPs (One True Pairings) I am talking about today are from two Kdramas (Korean TV shows) that I watched in 2017. I’ve been percolating over this article for a good few weeks now–hopefully I can express my thoughts coherently and do it justice.

tiny, wee spoilers to follow

I Remember You/Hello Monster Couple: Lee Hyun and Cha Ji-an

This police procedural drama is all about psychopathy and estranged brothers and “are monsters born or created?” and it’s fascinating; but the core of the story and what makes the drama’s resolution even possible is the main couple.

Cha Ji-an carries the weight of being a criminal’s daughter, but she is also a detective with a strong sense of justice who consistently puts others before herself. She is a protector–sometimes to the detriment of her own safety and emotional health.

Lee Hyun watched his father die and lost his little brother in one night. As a result of that childhood trauma he is closed-off and fighting to prove to himself that he isn’t the monster that his father believed he was.

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The romance starts out gradually. It is literally slow-burn with a dash of enemies-to-lovers as Lee Hyun and Cha Ji-an butt heads at every turn. Something I really appreciated about the start of their relationship is that, even though they are continually at odds, they’re not dismissive of each other as people and the clashing of their characters comes more from the fact that Ji-an is a detective and Hyun is a criminal profiler, hence they see things from completely different perspectives.

Of course, once they are forced to depend on each other their relationship gradually morphs into reluctant friendship. Then they start to be concerned when the other person is hurting or in danger and that’s when my favorite aspect of this particular relationship kicks in. The mutual respect and strong concern for the other person’s well-being slowly deepens into love and it’s precious. The feels are real with this one, y’all.

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Their romance is reminiscent of the famous Austen quote: “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me.”

I honestly don’t remember them even saying the words “I love you” other than Hyun’s adorable and swoony way of telling Ji-an that she ranks highest in his heart. Not that it isn’t important for a couple to express their love in words, but the thought with Lee Hyun and Cha Ji-an is that at a certain point there is no doubt in their mind how the other person feels about them. Hyun knew without even having to ask that Ji-an loved him because she showed him as clear as daylight in the way she looked out for him and believed in him. As for Ji-an, once Hyun confessed to her in the adorable way previously mentioned, she understood how much he cared about her.

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Lee Hyun and Cha Ji-an are important as an OTP to me because even though they have their own personal struggles, even when they are drowning in their own hurt: they stand by each other no matter what. Ji-an’s steadfast belief that Hyun is not a monster like he fears (but just a very damaged person who needs help) has a huge influence on him and essentially jump-starts his road to healing. At the same time Hyun’s constant, quiet care of Ji-an and how he is there for her when she is overwhelmed by grief or fighting a moral dilemma (such as taking the law into her own hands) is one of the best aspects of his character.

They are each other’s anchors, not in an unhealthy I-will-go-to-pieces-if-you-are-not-here sort of way, but as a safe place for the other person. It’s heartwarming and precious and I just really, really love these two.

Disclaimer: I Remember You/Hello Monster is a crime show that deals with psychopathy, somewhat graphic crime scenes, serial killers, etc. Minimal swearing. No indecent scenes. Possible danger of sobbing into your ice cream. Swooniness guaranteed.

While You Were Sleeping Couple: Jung Jae-chan and Nam Hong-joo

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Saving the best for the last. [happy sigh]

Modern love-stories that are sweet + healthy + stable without all the misunderstandings and emotional upheavals/drama actually do exist. I knew they did, but they are few and far between and my list is Very Small. So when I watched While You Were Sleeping last September-November the love story took me completely by surprise.

(disclaimer: While You Are Sleeping is a drama that deals with crime. Minimal swearing. No immoral scenes. Much sweetness. May kill you from the hilarity. Or from the crying. Features Best Secondary Character in the history of Kdrama)

I’m used to OTPs killing my feels with all the pain and tears (coughFitzSimmonscough) or giving me heart-attacks with the dramatic, sweeping gestures. When I started watching WYWS I kept on expecting a drawn-out denial of feelings + emotional turmoil culminating in a declaration of love that (probably) takes place in a burning building or during a stunning sunset. Therefore, I was surprised as the story progressed and Jae-chan and Hong-joo fall in love with all the softness and sweetness of a light summer rain. At first I am ashamed to admit I was actually a bit disappointed. “Give me the Doctor and River Song! Give me Margaret and Mr. Thornton! Give me Han Solo and Leia!” (I demanded).

oh, silly annie.

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I remember the scene when it hit me how perfectly the love-story was crafted. Hong-joo has a special gift, or curse depending on how you look at it. She can see the future (usually a catastrophic future) in her dreams and she and Jae-chan–who is a rookie prosecutor–work together to prevent her dreams from happening or to change them if they can. Naturally, I thought this was much too contrived and convenient. They were clearly meant to be together as a couple, hence where was the suspense? where were the sparks? “I need the chemistry” (I grumbled, completely forgetting that not all chemistry between couples has to be electrifying).

Then THAT scene happened. I won’t say what scene it is because spoilers are the scourge of happy people everywhere, but I was floored. It’s such a quick moment that if you’re not paying attention you might not even realize the significance, but I sat there stunned as my epiphany hit me and everything about Jae-chan and Hong-joo’s relationship clicked into place. From that moment on I was toast.

I think one of the marks of a good OTP is the ability that it has to move you to tears, and after that scene I cried multiple times. But here’s the thing, I wasn’t crying because the love story was sad or gut-wrenching–I was crying because it was beautiful. There is a special quality of trust and belief and actual, real understanding between this couple that I have seen in very few romances. River Song had no idea just how much the Doctor loved her until years after they had been married. Even Amy and Rory–as much as I adore them–struggled with knowing just what the nature and strength of the other’s feelings were.

Jae-chan and Hong-joo know each other so well and understand each other with such clarity that there is no place for dramatic angst in their relationship. Instead the conflict comes from elsewhere, e.g. opposition to their relationship, Hong-joo’s dream about her future death, etc. And through it all they are there for each other as beacons of hope and faithfulness.

The romance in While You Were Sleeping doesn’t have the dramatic flair of many love stories, but it’s that much sweeter for its steadiness and strength. Jae-chan and Hong-joo taught me an important lesson about OTPs, i.e. love doesn’t always have to be portrayed as fire-works and grand gestures and feels-inducing angst and passionate kiss scenes as the world goes up in flames. Sometimes it is simply a couple knowing each other inside-and-out, steadfastly standing by their sweetheart + believing in them and trusting them no matter what.

And I think that is beautiful.

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What about you? What are some of your favorite slow-burn romances? Also, by all means, give me a list of your fave healthy relationships. I WANT ALL THE RECS MY PRECIOUS GINGERSNAPS

Beautiful Books — Witchling (part two) // Also, NaNo updates

Time for Part Two of Beautiful Books!

According to the title, I also promised NaNoWriMo updates so let’s chat that first, shall we?

Last week my older sister and I went on a road-trip together. I didn’t get much written (about 1,000 words total) but it was wonderfully inspiring — everyone ought to try to road trip at least once per year. While we drove past rain-wet fields, deeply green pastures, forests of skeleton trees, and under the arc of pearl-grey sky, I spent a lot of time thinking about my books and planning my writing schedule out for the next few months. In a nutshell, with everything happening during the rest of November (helping a sibling move, fall-cleaning, Thanksgiving preparations, etc) realistically it would be well-nigh impossible for me to write 30,000 words on Witchling. Hence, I changed my goal to 10,000 which I reached this past Tuesday (YAY) and I am going to focus on Blood Thread for the rest of the month. I’m hoping to finish it before NaNoWriMo is over (Lordwilling) and I’ll spend the first two weeks of December editing and polishing it. It’ll be about 25,000 words long by the time I’m done and I have big plans for it.

So, there you have it! All the rest of my NaNo word-count will be going towards Blood Thread, and I feel much more at ease about my stress level — which has been higher because I’m sick right now. woe is me 

By the way, I am very curious about how your NaNo battle is progressing, folks! Tell me ALLLL about it in the comments, please and thank you. *gives everyone rejuvenating chocolate* And as for anyone not doing NaNo, I’m still curious about your writing, my precious.

Beautiful Books — Part Two


Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

It’s has been a very obedient child for the most part, but at least three times it has suddenly darted from the beaten path and I’ve had to race after it and drag it kicking and screaming back.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Oh, since you asked so nicely.

“The children are approaching, ma’am.”

(cue the suspenseful music.)

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I’m a conglomeration of the two (plantser). My method is as follows:

Step One: Do a rough outline of the story with all the major plot points charted out.

Step Two: Trot merrily along from point to point and encounter all sorts of delightful shenanigans along the way.

Step Three: Become stuck with no idea how to get to Point (insert random number).

Step Four: Write a rough scene-by-scene outline.

Step Five: Write industriously with many moments of varied emotions.

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What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

Sometimes the warm, fuzzy feeling of having reached said goal is enough. If not, I break out my chocolate stash (it’s very small, but IT IS ALL MINE.) Other rewards include watching a TV episode, reading, sharing snippets with friends, browsing Pinterest…. basically anything I particularly enjoy.

What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

I like names that have a snap to them. I like to toy with words and turn them into names — such as Prism. Most of my names are gleaned from meeting people, looking at gravestones, checking baby name sites… sometimes I look up names based on the meaning or I take foreign names/Latin words and manipulate them into my own thing. If I hear a name I like there is a 99% chance I’ll incorporate it into a book. And I always have a list of names in the back of my mind just waiting for that perfect character.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Beginnings are wonderful, also scary. But I love the emotions of finishing a book. There’s nothing like it.

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Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

WHAT SORT OF QUESTION IS THIS I ASK YOU.

What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

I actually haven’t researched very much. I tend to leave that for the second draft. One thing I did look up was how to make souffles. Needless to say, I’ve been craving them since then.

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souffle

Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

I write best when I’m completely alone in a room, but word wars are amazing things so I (politely) bribe/beg my friends and younger sisters for them. Sharing snippets of my work with others is terrifying and exciting all at once. I love it.

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What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Sequester myself at my desk, turn epic music on, make sure my glass of water is near by and write like I’m being chased by all nine of the Nazgul. I can’t snack whilst I write because I find it too distracting. I write best in the morning/early afternoon. Rarely ever do I write in the evenings.

(stay tuned for Part Three next month!)

In other news, I voluntarily entered the black hole of k-drama last week (I know, I’m questioning my sanity too). I’ve only seen City Hunter so far, but it was glorious and has so many martial arts scenes and plot twists and it destroyed my feels. I literally sat there and sobbed when a Certain Character died, and I can count the times I’ve done that during a film on one hand. I’ve entered the ranks of k-drama fangirls and I love it. My family thinks I’m mental. I fully intend to drag them down with me. *maniacal laughter* It’ll be epic.

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Alright then, cyberspacelings! Tell me all about your NaNo experience so far. How goes the war? Are your books/characters being good, little creatures? Are you a k-drama fan? If you’ve seen City Hunter, let’s chat!