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I am writing a webcomic, and have come upon a snag, I need two characters to like each other very much, but one is the slave of the other.

In the comic, there are characters who find and use powerful beings for personal gain, and then there are those powerful beings. The complex relationship in this question's title is between these two people, an "agent" and her "fighter" (a human male from Earth).

The male is her first fighter, and the male never had the most interesting life, but at the end of the day one is the slave of the other. How do I make the attraction between the agent and the fighter seem real, when one is forced to fight to the death for the other? Even though the male does get lots of money for the fighting, and is not always in her control (just when a fight is happening).

If you need more information, just let me know and I will respond to your post.

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You laid out the basic formula. But how the characters interact is what will make the story. Don't think of what's happening between them as a romance (or a star-crossed love) but as a collection of moments and smaller stories that in hind-sight show they were, in fact, in love. In that way, start with the base state; they just knew each other, nothing is happening; then build on that based on how the usual and totally normal within their world actions… (continued) –  Mussri Oct 21 '12 at 17:45
    
(CNT'D)… then build on that based on how the usual and totally normal within their world actions that they do at the beginning and how this leads to the attraction and eventually love. If the transition is smooth the story will be much more believable. What happens within the story, however, to keep it realistic (and believable) is sth only you could do, as you know your characters, their past, and (since this's a comic; not a novel) what they think and feel, the reader wouldn't know that last one most of the time. –  Mussri Oct 21 '12 at 17:56
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3 Answers

I'd say you did hit a snag indeed. With the medium. I could nicely answer this for a novel, but webcomics are inherently restricting, with need to limit verbal communication, bite-sized "strips", and so on. Still, I'll try best to my ability.

First, to make things more spicy (otherwise the outcome would be mellow and boring), build a conflict between the two. They struggle for opposite goals, despite their feelings towards each other they may hate factions the other belongs to, or despise their methods etc. Generally, give a clear, strong reason why the two should hate each other, going beyond slavery.

Then give them their own individual conflicts, where the other is the a bargain card and obstacle. Make them face difficult - or seemingly not so difficult choices. Chance for freedom, requests to betray each other, generous or terrifying incentives. Then expose their internal struggle, regretting the decision whatever it is, struggling with its consequences. Let them perform random acts of kindness and generosity towards each other, that seemingly go against their nature. Build their internal conflicts, where the general goal struggles against personal feelings.

And in the end allow them admit their true feelings. Give them a crowning moment of awesome. Let them surprise all sides by cooperating tightly, overcoming all differences and generally kicking ass as a well-matched team whereas being in their "default relationship" would be extremely hindering.

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+1 just for CMOA. :) –  Lauren Ipsum Oct 28 '12 at 0:20
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You need to know your characters first to be able to know how they'll react to the whole situation. Is the "Agent" a kind master, or is she a cruel bitch? If she's a bitch, is it just a façade she puts on to make herself look tough? Does she like fighters in general, or she thinks they're brainless twits? What about the "Fighter"? Is he resenting her for being forced to fight, or has he accepted his fate? Is he rude and defiant towards her? Or perhaps he's a flirt and makes inappropriate passes at her just to make her uncomfortable? Is he a jerk or a nice guy?

When you have their personalities down, the relationship will sort itself out on it's own, they will react to each other and the situation according to their natures. For example, if she's a bitch towards him, he might start hating her in the beginning, but later when he finds out it's just a mask she wears and she's actually very vulnerable underneath, he might start to turn around, he might get intrigued to find out what's under the mask. He might even be sorry for being rude to her in return. Or if she really is a cruel bitch, maybe he falls in love with her (falling in love isn't really a rational thing, people fall in love with bad people in spite themselves) but fights it, because, well, she's a bitch. If she thinks of him as a brainless twit, she might come around when she realizes there's more to him. Maybe because of his flirtatious passes at the beginning, she doesn't believe he's sincere when he starts having feelings towards her?

One way to make it is to have them hate each other because of some misconceptions about one another, and then slowly have them come around when they get to know each other and realize they each misjudged the other. Or have one hate and the other like, then find a reason to turn it the other way around. Switching them from hot to cold and cold to hot could prolong the tension and keep them from getting together too soon :) Usually when the tension between two characters is driving the story, as soon as they get together, it stops being interesting for the readers ;)

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The simplest answer is that there has to be something which bridges the divide between master and slave and allows them to see and respect one another as equals. Does she show mercy to the slave whom her slave has defeated? Does he disable rather than kill his opponents, or dispatch them quickly and without pain? Did she acquire him and thereby save him from execution? Does he love fighting and was slotted for something quiet and boring, and she rescued him from a worse fate?

Once you've established how they get past the initial barrier, the falling in love bit is like any other pairing.

I can suggest some homework. These are similar relationships, and you can see how they develop to figure out how to draw parallels with your own characters:

Transformation by Carol Berg: The two men don't fall in love, but they form a powerful friendship.

The Morgaine Saga by CJ Cherryh: The warrior isn't exactly the sorceress's slave, but he is bound to her service.

If you want to stretch it a bit, the title character of the BBC's "Merlin" is Arthur's servant but they decidedly do not have a servant-master relationship.

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+1, great references, too. –  Thaddeus Oct 22 '12 at 1:36
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