I’ve noticed something lately in romance stories. First in my own works and then in others.
That is the over focus of how the hero or heroine views the other physically.
It’s as if we don’t have any other way to show the reader that the hero and heroine are attracted to each other.
It’s basic. Shallow. And I think we can do better.
I’m challenging myself therefore I’m challenging you.
I’m reading a book right now where there heroine’s internal thoughts are always on the hero’s “beauty” every time she sees him.
However, he annoys the crap out of her and she’s determined not to have anything to do with him.
Yet, while trying to give him the bum’s rush and cold shoulder, she flirts with him.
Really? This is a woman trying to get away from a man.
The writing is great. The historical aspects are fab. But in a romance we’ve got to put some elbow grease into deepening and better defining the attraction between the hero and heroine.
Even in a steamy romance with strong sexual content, we MUST go beyond the physical.
I read a series of novels for a contest not too long ago and while they are called romance novels, I began to think of them as lust novels.
Always, always in these stories the first attraction is physical — true to human nature — then straight to sexual with little emotional layering.
Romance is all about EMOTION! What we feel. Not what we do.
Don’t lose sight of the romance because you have your eye on the first sexual encounter (for you secular authors) or on the spiritual or historical story line (for you inspirational authors.)
What do your hero and heroine feel emotionally for each other? How can you show that on the page?
In my last book, Princess Ever After (Feb 2014) I challenged myself to NOT write so much about the physical but hit the core emotions as best I could.
Yes, when the hero first sees the heroine, he’s struck by her beauty. It fit the scene. He wasn’t expecting someone quite so lovely.
But when he sees her again, they physical draw is minimized by what he’s beginning to “feel” for her.
Same with the heroine. She notices him physically but begins to see something deeper and more enduring beneath is formal and stayed exterior.
You’ve got to do the same with your heroine and hero.
If you find you are constantly describing how one thinks the other looks, then you’re being lazy.
Great for a line or two in the beginning. One in the middle. Another declared in dialog to a friend or to the H/H. And perhaps one at the end.
No more than five “He was a living god. Beautiful and divine,” or “She was the full moon in the midnight sky, bright and round against the darkness, full of life and pulling on the tide of his heart.”
(Hey, that’s not bad! Dibs! I can overwrite with the best of them.)
That’s another thing. Don’t overwrite emotion. Or physical description. Leave some space for the reader to join the story and add what they think and feel about the characters. How they see the characters.
How do you not over do the physical?
1. Get to the emotional layer sooner. What does she see in him. What does he sense about her?
2. What do the H/H bring to each other? What does she have that he needs and vice versa?
3. Up the tension by giving them real conflict. You Got Mail is a classic example of the hero destroying the heroine’s dream by building a big box book store in the sublime shadow of her little mom and pop book shop.
4. Just because someone is handsome or beautiful does not make them a candidate for romance. What makes them a candidate for romance is their heart, their kindness, their spirituality, what they have in common with each other. Strike on those elements.
5. Set up a scene where they share a common interest. Or where one confesses a deep wound to the other. Or, their happiest moment. THEN you can have the “look,” the exchanged glances that make their hearts go pitty-pitty-ping!
Now, go write well!
Best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story.
With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel. A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 17 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog.
Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her latest release is Once Upon A Prince. Go forth and write!
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