Thursday, February 2, 2012

Romance Is In The Air

Valentine's Day is coming up. Most of you probably don't need reminded about that. My husband does, but probably not you. I actually don't consider myself a "romance" writer, although it's an essential element in most of my stories. I usually write YA, so I can get away with awkward romantic scenes. Luckily, when I want to un-awkward a scene, I have a friend named Tracy who can smooth it all out. Last year she taught me something very important about romantic scenes. If you want your reader to feel it, use all five senses.
The scene started out like this:
“Hopefully that will make up for my despicable behavior as your friend.” Adam said, guilt still evident in his voice. I wondered how long it would be before that wore off.
I leaned forward. “I’m sure I overreacted,” I conceded. It took me a moment to realize that my hand was resting on his knee. I blushed, and started to pull it back. He put his hand on top of mine, stopping me for a moment. I looked up at him and met his eyes as he raised them from his own gaze on his leg. He leaned forward and my heart jumped into my throat the moment I felt his lips.
The spell was broken sooner than I was prepared for. Adam jerked away from me with more 
force than I could have ever expected. I nearly fell forward into his lap, and I flushed a deep, 
deep scarlet as I righted myself and sat back, leaning away from him. 

Sort of . . . blah. I don't really care about the scene and I wrote it! But then it became this:

“Hopefully that will make up for my despicable behavior.” Adam still sounded guilty. I wondered how long it’d take to wear off.
I leaned forward and caught a whiff of his cologne. The fact that I recognized the smell so quickly both startled and soothed me. “I’m sure I overreacted,” I said, embarrassed about my tantrum the night before.
 It took me a moment to realize I’d rested my hand on his knee. I froze and stared at it. My hand seemed to ignite. The blood rushed up my arm, to my heart, spreading and warming me. It rose into my face, burning it with embarrassment. Everything about me seemed to center on that moment. Could he feel the warmth? I finally started to drag my fingers backward, reluctant to lose contact with the electric, but blissful feeling.
Adam curled his fingers over my hand. My gaze jerked up. He stared at our hands, almost transfixed, like he never noticed how nicely my fingers fit inside his. How good it would feel to pull my hand inside his and hold it…
Okay, maybe that’s what I was thinking.His gaze rose to meet mine. The stillness in the quiet house intensified. Everything seemed to disappear, leaving Adam and I alone. Did every girl get lost in Adam like this? Did he make their heart pound and burn, but love every second of it? When would I wake up and realize I dreamed it all up?His eyes seemed to smile. Almost like he’d waited for this moment. Could that be true? The burning that started in my hand took over. He leaned closer. I saw so clearly the sharp edge of his jawbone, smooth, tanned.  I couldn’t resist reaching up to run my fingers along it. His lips brushed across mine, like the prelude to something amazing. I closed my eyes. My heart stalled. I stopped breathing. My entire world froze in that moment.
Okay, so I'm probably a bit biased, but this version? This version rocked! All the same things happened, but showing how Bek reacts using every sense blew it all away. Sometimes, despite knowing it all, I blush a little when I read it. I know some amazing romance writers. The best ones help you feel the tension, make your heart race and thud with the characters, or long for the first kiss.

And in honor of Valentine's Day, I'm recommending a couple of my favorites that do just that. "Friends & Foes" by Sarah M. Eden and "Maid to Match" by Deeanne Gist.

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