I've written about this before, but it's really important for me to see friendship between two characters before I'll genuinely ship them. And while that friendship can be complicated, it has to involve obvious and canonical enjoyment of one another's company. What I really love to see, what many of the couples I have heavily shipped in the past prove, is that getting to see that friendship develop is what gets me, right there.
So, no, I didn't ship Shawn/Lassiter until they had both gone out of their way to help one another, and look at one another without pure antagonism, I can't ship Doctor/Master even though the reasoning behind the ship is so abundantly clear. This is the only reason I am not vehemently shipping Stiles/Derek at the moment. In the show they're not quite up to the acknowledged "I like looking at your face" level of not-hatred that I need. Meanwhile, because of alllll the other reasons, and the fact they're both quite good-looking guys, I am still somehow shipping them. (My fic is quite shamelessly "watch these two become friends. WATCH THEM. WATCH THEM.") With this in mind "becoming friends" was part of the Loz = shipping? criteria.
Next, "influencing each other in good and bad ways". I like this because it's realistic. I don't think being in a relationship with someone instantaneously makes you a better person. I think sometimes it's possible to take on their flaws. So I kind of love seeing that happen, even if it also makes me wail and gnash my teeth. Think Sam/Gene, John/Aeryn, Nicholas/Danny (which I always said I didn't ship... and then wrote nothing but shipfic for.)
Alongside the influence, I love characters who are "in need of one another, and/or are two loners against the world." Yes, they have to like each other, but I also enjoy characters who are thrown together due to circumstance. Getting to see how characters navigate that kind of situation makes me a happy fan. There's also just something really appealing about two characters who don't entirely fit into general society finding a niche with each other.
I wrote to taurenova that I love characters who are "competent as fuck". I have such a competency kink. People who can do whatever it is they do well? Yes, please. And better yet, characters who work well together, who make one another better at whatever it is they do? Om nom nom. I am not really a fan of characters that make stupid, foolish mistakes based on things they could have known. I am down with characters who make mistakes because their hands are forced, or they have no way of knowing what the audience does.
And now, I'm going to go on about something I didn't talk about with taurenova --- communication. I get very sick, very quickly, by "everything in the plot could be resolved if the characters only talked to one another" (which isn't to say I never use that trope, because I definitely do.) I get that a huge part of narrative is conflict and this is an easy way to engender conflict in a relationship. But I do think it's taken to extremes, sometimes. One of the reasons I always loved Ned and Chuck in Pushing Daisies was because they had grown-up, honest conversastions. Give me two characters who actually talk to one another, and I am your fan for life (Zak/Tom in Eternal Law, I am looking at you.)
With all of these there are various character traits I am drawn to: fishes out of water, snark, badinage, puns and word-play (my love of these is unhealthy), characters with EMOTIONS (but not necessarily the ability to express them), longing, quiet desperation, and, generally, a strong sense of duty.
Huh. I've never really thought of myself as a great romantic. I mean, I