How To Write A Good Romantic Ship ft Signal (2016)

Just the other day, I was browsing through Pinterest and I found a post about how to write a good romantic couple. You can find the original pin here. I took the time to go find the original post as well so I could share it with you guys. Titled “Writing a Relationship Your Readers Will Ship“, it was filled with the usual tips, but one of them really stood out to me.

Step Two: Slow burn ships are fantastic.
Don’t make your characters fall in love right off the bat. There can be attraction, of course, but genuine feelings of true love don’t happen instantly. Your characters should become closer as people, feel at ease around each other, and truly know the other before they fall head-over-heels. The readers will crave the relationship far more, like dangling a treat right in front of a dog’s nose, but keep pulling it away. Teasing is a beautiful thing.

Okay now hold up here. When you reach the end of this post, you would be like “But Kanra, this tip says slow burn, but this ship you’re talking about isn’t slow burn at all-” well shush. Look at the lines I underlined. That’s the only part I want to talk about. You can make your readers ship a thing so much if you dangle the ship in the middle of the air, no resolution, no conclusion, so near and yet so far.

Get ready to hear about Signal.

For starters, this isn’t even a primarily ‘romantic’ type of K drama. In case you haven’t noticed, I enjoy mostly genres like crime or psychological when it comes to tv series and books. It’s mostly because I find romantic things really awkward and most ‘ships’ seem to have lots of faulty holes that make it look like it’s going to sink twice as fast as the Titanic.

Signal (2016) is, as you guessed it, a crime drama. There are three main characters; the rookie profiler of 2015, the captain of the cold case squad of 2015 and the detective of 1989. Basically, the rookie profiler has an old police radio that he can use to contact the detective of 1989. The two of them work together to solve cases that are still happening in 1989, but declared cold by the time it’s 2015. The only person linking these two together is the captain of the cold case squad, who was the detective’s junior in 1989.

So the series is a little confusing, since it jumps between narrating 2015 and 1989. One thing that I really liked was how they’d use different filters- the scenes from 1989 had a yellowish tinge, just like what you’d expect old film and photography to look like. Just by looking at the gradation of a scene, you could tell if you were in 2015 or 1989 and I thought that was really cool. It kind of reminded me a little of 13 Reasons Why, with the jumps between past and present, only in those scenes, you only had Clay’s bandage to figure out if it was current or the past.

Anyway, the profiler of 2015 and the detective of 1989 work together to solve lots of cases. They would exchange information, the detective having the ability to investigate the scene and the suspects themselves while the profiler had access to records and knowledge of how the cases would pan out till 2015. Of course, meddling with time like this is bound to create changes in the world and I was half expecting something like Steins;Gate to happen (the detective solving cases but ruining the future so much that they had to go back and try to undo things), but fortunately nothing like that occurred.

But where is the ship, you ask? Well, it’s between the cold case captain of 2015 and the detective of 1989. Basically what happened is that back in 1989, the cold case captain was a rookie in the police department and while the detective ran around solving cases with help from the profiler of 2015, she basically had a crush of sorts on the detective. She tries hard to communicate with the detective (but he’s completely head over heels into solving cases lol) and slowly manages to get through to him, but just when he starts reciprocating her feelings, he UP AND DISAPPEARS.

Now this is something that the profiler from 2015 knows and so he tries to navigate the detective away from his disappearance (because of course that’s what’s going to happen to a detective who is meddling in a lot of dangerous cases). Meanwhile, the cold case captain of 2015 is still hung up about the missing detective, she still visits his father regularly and hasn’t married anyone else or anything, so when she finds out about the profiler being able to contact the detective of 1989, she leaps at the chance to try to save him (AKA she spoils his future disappearance and begs him not to get himself killed).

I can’t even convey how much I love this ship? It traverses time in all sense of the word and it’s so near, yet so far. I just want the detective to not die, and yet, after everything the profiler and the cold case captain do, it seems like they might succeed and yet, it seems impossible at the same time. Honestly, I’ve never felt this was about a ship before. It’s a hopeless, yet hopeful, so close and yet so far, kind of ship. You can’t understand how amazing this is until you’ve seen it for yourself. Spoiler Alert: the ship doesn’t really happen in the way you’d want it to….

I give Signal (2016) an overall rating of 4/5 and I highly recommend that you watch it. There are some mildly uncomfortable topics, because this is a crime story after all, and based on real cases, but nothing squeamish or explicit (which is a good. I don’t like explicit things unless it’s a camera shoved 2 inches away from gore) is shown..

What are your favorite types of ships in books/shows? Do you like ships better when they are fulfilled or when there is an aspect of separation that make things seem impossible? Have a nice day!

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Author: Kanra Khan

I'm a Pakistani American student of medicine, or more precisely, an almost-graduate of MBBS Class of 2019. I like to write about my experiences in med school and my adventures in life, which range from traveling, to art, to blogging and photography. Like what you're seeing so far? Consider exploring a bit more! The Lunar Descent is endless.

2 Replies to “How To Write A Good Romantic Ship ft Signal (2016)

  1. This drama sounds like the kind of thing I wouldn't want to watch at first, then I do watch it and become so completely obsessed with the ship and the timeline logic that I'll end up screaming and yelling at my screen.

    x Envy
    Lost in Translation

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