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  • RoAnna sylver

A New Ship Theory: The Dynamic Snapshot Diagram

Shipping is serious business. And it can get pretty complex and hard to wrap your head around, especially when you start to take contrasting orientations and personalities into account. No two ships are quite the same… but it’s sometimes hard to explain why.

Ever tried to lay out what exactly makes two ships different, even if they’re both romantic, sexual, platonic, or queerplatonic? (Or any combination!) Within those umbrella categories, there’s so much variety it can be (wonderfully) mindboggling! Even similarly-oriented ships can have vastly different dynamics… but this can be hard to express. Sometimes all you can say is “I dunno, they’re just a different vibe.” My friend Eri and I have been trying to put this into words for a long time… until we realized we needed some visual aids.

Enter The Dynamic Snapshot Theory. (Now with a cool generator by Ben Babcock!)

The name reflects the fact that ships are complex and can change over time – they’re dynamic, and this is a single snapshot of their status at a specific moment, whether right now, or when they first met. It also refers to the several dynamics within any given ship, and all the elements that go into a relationship. (And is also a pun, and I just really like puns.)

It should work for any kind of ship, romantic or not, and is meant to be an easy (and visually fun!) way to represent your favorite characters and how they relate.

The chart looks like this. (FEEL FREE TO USE THIS AND GRAPH YOUR FAVES, whether that’s your book/movie/game OTP, or your own characters! Just please credit back to me, RoAnna Sylver, and Eri/@DeathStar510.)

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Familiarity – How well do they know one another? Are they an established ship who knows exactly how their partners like their coffee, or are they just feeling one another out? (All of these dynamics can change over time, but this one likely the most!)Sensuality – How much do they want to touch, cuddle, and generally be close to each other? Hear each others’ voices, their scents, “enjoying one another with the senses” is a good way to think of this.Sexuality – How much do they want to do sexual things with one another, in whatever capacity? Doesn’t necessarily refer to sexual attraction (all ace ships won’t necessarily be low-sex, and all allo ships don’t have to be high-sex), but can if that’s how you’re using this.Intensity – How hard do they go, basically, considering all the other axes? (If they couldn’t see each other for a week, how would they react when they’re reunited? Full-tilt run across field of daisies and fling into each others’ arms, or a relieved settling into chill relaxation?)Vulnerability – How open are they with each other/how okay are they being vulnerable, exhausted, hurt, expressing a need for one another? Note that this does not have to measure honesty or trust (ships can trust each other without being totally vulnerable), but can if you want.Romance – Not all relationships are romantic! This graph can be used for all kinds, including friendships/queerplatonic/aromantic ships. How much does your ship do the romo?

Here’s some examples!

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Regan and Zilch from my first book, Chameleon Moon, are a super-established ship at the time of the story (even if it doesn’t look like it on a first read!). They’ve been together for close to ten years, so they know each other very well/are super Familiar. They’re very big on touch/comforting contact/Sensuality, but not so much Sexual attraction, and especially not Intensity… because they’re so much a part of one another’s lives, being together is like breathing by now. They almost don’t think about it, of course they’re together, that’s just how they are. Extremely low-Intensity ship who’s still very much in love.

Compare them to Pixie and Jude from my new vampire-flavored serial Stake Sauce! (As of Arc 1, anyway.)

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These cuties are still getting to know one another (also, Pixie is a vampire/can turn into an adorable fuzzy bat, and this is a bit Unfamiliar to Jude). They’re pretty balanced otherwise, and their Intensity is up more than the others because they might still be feeling one another out (Jude is especially not good at being Vulnerable), but whatever they feel, it’s real. This is a good example of an early ship snapshot that will change over time/as they get more comfortable with one another and established. I don’t know what their later dynamic will be, because I haven’t written it yet! But it’ll be fun to find out.

So have fun! Take a blank and plot out your faves to your heart’s content, drawing or with the neat generator, just please credit back! We really hope you enjoy this, and it’s helpful for all your shipping-categorizing needs. Thank you for reading!

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