Me: What the hell happened in there?
Character: I don’t want to talk about it.
Me: She thinks you’re a colossal idiot right now.
Character: Well whose fault is that?
Me: I certainly didn’t tell you to be nervous.
Character: Yeah, but you manufactured it that way, didn’t you?
Me: You’re supposed to be confident. Or at least semi-normal. Not awkward as hell.
Character: How, exactly, do you expect me not to be socially awkward when my entire existence is based around your understanding of reality? I can’t be less awkward than you.
Me: You can because the situation is controlled!
Character: I don’t know that. And honestly, she was acting like a bitch in there. How am I expected to be confident that she’s interested when she keeps telling me to go away?
Me: Hey. Watch it.
Character: What? No one can think your precious protagonist is a bitch?
Me: She is a bitch, but you’re not supposed to see that. And, anyway, you’re the protagonist.
Character: Funny how the world revolves around her then.
Me: It does not.
Character: The entire situation was contrived to benefit her and screw me.
Me: What do you want from me? I set it up. I made you both there. I didn’t even make you seek her out like the colossal stalker you are.
Character: You set it up in her comfort zone. It was a place she always went to doing things that she always did with people she knew well. I’ve never been there before, didn’t know anyone. I was so far out of my comfort zone, and then, there she is, giving me monosyllabic answers, not looking me in the eyes. Insulting me.
Me: That was a joke.
Character: Which is all perfectly fine if she had a semblance of fondness for me.
Me: Well what do you want me to do?
Character: It doesn’t have to be so one sided!
Me: It adds conflict.
Character: You don’t really believe that.
Me: Listen. Little girls are taught their whole lives that men don’t really like them, that they are replaceable, that anyone with a pretty face and the remotest amount of interest will do. We’re constantly afraid that someone is with us because we’re the ones who will say yes. So it’s appealing, in fantasy, to have a guy like you even when he doesn’t know if you like him back.
Character: Your misandry is showing. Or at least sadism.
Me: It’s not about making him miserable.
Character: It’s about making me miserable.
Me: … Okay. Fine. But that’s just to punish you for that stunt you pulled in Chapter 10. Not because I have a sadistic pleasure in men being uncomfortable.
Me: You’re not supposed to be uncomfortable. That’s the point!
Character: That’s an unfair and unrealistic representation.
Me: Psscht. It’s a romance novel.
Character: Hardly. Also, that’s a cop out and you know it.
Me: Fine. You’re right. Fine. And I guess being nervous is kind of attractive in real life.
Character: Good. Let’s move on then. Chapter 14…
Me: But it’s not attractive on you. You have represented yourself as a bulldozer of confidence, and this sudden sign of weakness—at least in that mess that you just showed me—is not appealing.
Character: I see there’s a lot of pressure on me to solve the problem. What about her?
Me: We just need to tweak your actions. Illustrate your nerves in a manner that don’t make you look like…
Me: Well, me.
Character: Believe me, I don’t want that either. But you know that the perception of character is often based around other characters’ perceptions on them.
Me: What are you saying?
Character: Like real life, a bad date is not always the man’s fault.
Me: Romance novel.
Character: Stop saying that. You’re not convincing anyone. My point is that if you want me to be less awkward and more charming, she needs to perceive me as charming.
Me: She does.
Character: Can she just vocalize that? It’s from my point of view… we have no idea that she gives a shit. And I want the audience to know she gives a shit, or I look like I’m an idiot. Is that really too much to ask? Are you seriously trying to tell me that reciprocal flirting is undesirable?
Me: I can’t change who she is any more than I can stop you from disappearing mid-party.
Character: It couldn’t be that you just have no idea how to flirt, could it?
Me: I think we’re done here.
Character: Ho, ho! The cat’s out of the bag. You don’t know how a woman should react when she’s interested in someone, so you expect me to just have ESP.
Me: If I can get away with it…
Character: Did it ever occur to you if you actually envisioned what flirting should look like, you might actually be able to flirt?
Me: I don’t want to.
Character: Uh-huh. Which is why your books focus on the more “intrapersonal” relationships. If you catch my drift.
Me: You flirt pretty well.
Character: Apparently not! Apparently I’m a bumbling idiot.
Character: Look. I’ll accept that your target audience is going to want me and ignore her. Believe me, I’m fine with that. And I’m fine with pandering to that. I’m fine going above and beyond the call of duty in the relationship because it’s my actions the readers are interested in. But you and I both know the issue here is a lack of connection. There is no way for me to not look like a desperate tool if there is no reciprocation. And who wants that kind of relationship anyway?
Me: I’ll talk to her.
Character: How about we move the setting?
Character: How about we get rid of her douchey friends?
Me: The waiter? He’s an acquaintance.
Character: He didn’t look like it.
Character: Oh no. Don’t even think about it. I’m not vying for her attention with some quasi-love interest that no one wants to happen anyway.
Me: Alright, alright. Fine. I’ll ply her with liquor first.
Character: There’s something inherently wrong with that. Scratch misandry. I think you’re just a good ol’ misogynist.
Me: She knows you’re coming. She drinks a lot to calm her nerves. Plans on things to start up a conversation, and makes a fool of herself, and she can run out and trip over the drunk.
Character: I did not.
Me: Really? Because that’s what I wrote.
Character: Jesus Christ. Okay. Let’s rewrite this scene.