Pinterest, I'm finding, is one of the most versatile and useful writing tools we authors have at our disposal. I'm not talking about just making inspiration boards for each WIP. You can also find all sorts of writing prompts and tips on Pinterest.
For example, I was exploring one of my boards and found this post, which I'd pinned a while ago. I know I promised you more tips on writing healthy romances for last week (sorry!), and this gives some excellent ideas. (I've added numbers for ease of reference in the rest of this post.)
Of course, not every relationship meets all these criteria right off the bat. One oft-quoted tip for writing romance tells us to start our love interests as far apart as possible so that their relationship has somewhere to go. I'd add that as a healthy relationship develops, we should see less bickering and more of the kinds of moments in the bullet points.
While it doesn't hit all the bullets (we never see either person participating in a hobby or doing the equivalent of eating Nutella and watching dumb shows), the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy gives us a good illustration of these principles.
A New Hope:
The first time Han hears about Leia, he's only interested in rescuing her because he expects a massive reward for his trouble.
When Han and Leia meet in person, they're both under a lot of stress. Leia's been tortured and interrogated by the Empire, and Han is trying not to get blasted by the stormtroopers who've cornered the rescue party in the cell block. Understandably, Han and Leia are quite snippy with each other throughout their escape from the Death Star.
Safe for the moment from the Empire, Leia and Han clash over her idealism and his greed. Still, Han privately expresses admiration for Leia's spunk.
Han initially bails on the Rebels before the Death Star arrives, but he has a change of heart and returns at a critical moment during the battle. While this choice isn't specific to his relationship with Leia, it does show that Han's learning to care about someone other than himself (progress toward bullets 1, 2, and 9).
The Empire Strikes Back:
When Han attempts to leave the Rebellion to settle his debt with Jabba the Hutt, Leia tries to persuade him to stay. She and Han argue about whether her motivation is idealistic or personal.
Han assumes responsibility for getting Leia to safety during the evacuation of Echo Base and the chase through the asteroid field. The whole time, they bicker about his cockiness versus Leia's caution.
While the group hides in the asteroid field, Leia assists with repairs on the Millennium Falcon. While we can argue that having the ship functional is simply a matter of self-interest for Leia, it also shows she cares about something that matters a lot to Han (progress toward bullets 1 and 2).
While Leia works, Han joins her. As they bicker, though not with the same bite as before, Leia slightly hurts her hand on a piece of equipment. Han notices and massages the injury for her (bullet 7).
Just before they kiss, Han gently teases Leia: "You like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in your life" (progress toward bullet 3).
Once the group arrives on Cloud City, Han and Leia's interactions start to match bullet 4 much more than before.
While they wait for the major repairs on the Falcon, Leia tells Han she doesn't trust Lando. Han assures her that he doesn't trust Lando either but that Lando is his friend (bullet 8).
During the same conversation, the topic of leaving comes up. Leia shows awareness of Han's goals by asking somewhat wistfully whether Han will leave the Rebellion once the group departs Cloud City. Han hesitates to answer, suggesting his priorities are changing (progress toward bullets 1, 2, and 9).
When Han and Leia end up in the same cell after he's tortured, she does her best to comfort him. Though he's certainly not at his most comfortable, he doesn't try to play tough or hide his pain from her (bullets 5 and 7).
After Lando's guards knock Han to the floor, Leia jokes, "You certainly have a way with people" before helping him up (bullet 3).
Upon learning that he's going to be frozen in carbonite, Han insists that Chewie take care of Leia. The couple kiss once more, and when Leia confesses her love, Han replies in a way that's somehow both cocky and sincere: "I know" (bullets 3 and 7).
As he's lowered into the carbon-freezing chamber, Han keeps his eyes fixed on Leia, as if to say, "If I die, I want the woman I love to be the last thing I see."
Rather than escaping Cloud City as soon as possible, Leia and the others make a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to keep Boba Fett from leaving with Han's frozen body.
Return of the Jedi:
Upon releasing Han from the carbonite, Leia reassures him in his disoriented state (bullet 7).
After the entire rescue party is captured by Jabba's minions, Leia shows much more concern for Han and the others than for her own predicament.
When the group returns to the Rebellion, Han appears to now be just as committed to the cause as Leia is. The two of them rarely bicker anymore (bullets 1, 4, and 9).
During the briefing for the attack on the second Death Star, Leia wonders aloud "who they found to [destroy the shield generator]." Han reacts with open-mouthed insult, but when it's revealed that he'll be leading the strike team, Leia looks at him with new respect. Then, smiling, she volunteers to join the team (bullets 1 and 2).
Noticing that Han is unusually quiet as the team boards the shuttle for Endor, Leia asks what's on his mind. In a rare moment of vulnerability, he muses that he might never see the Falcon again. Rather than trying to talk Han out of his fears, Leia is silent for a moment, then gives him a playful nudge to encourage him to move on (bullets 5 and 7).
As the Rebels regroup after the speeder-bike chase on Endor and realize that Leia is missing, Han says with deep feeling, "I sure hope she's all right."
In distress after Luke's revelations about their family, Leia refuses to tell Han what's really on her mind, an act that upsets him. Still, she asks him to hold her, and he obliges (bullet 7).
Han and Leia work as a well-matched team during the attack on the shield bunker, such as when he hotwires the door while she covers him (bullet 9).
When Leia is shot, Han drops everything to help. Leia claims the wound isn't serious, but she allows Han to tend to her without protest (bullets 5 and 7).
Shortly thereafter, when it appears that stormtroopers have cornered the couple, they share a grim smile as they reverse roles in their old exchange: "I love you."/"I know" (bullet 3).
While Han patches up Leia's wound, the Death Star explodes in the sky above them. He hastens to assure her that Luke probably wasn't aboard (bullet 7).
Believing that Leia has romantic feelings for Luke, Han tells her that when Luke returns, "I won't get in the way." Leia recognizes the misunderstanding and explains her blood relationship with Luke (bullets 7 and 8).
Though Han and Leia's relationship is anything but healthy when they first meet, it gradually evolves into something that helps them both grow and improve. And that's one of the most important aspects of a healthy romance: it makes both people want to do and be better.