The other day I was thinking about what to write for this blog post while chopping onions for chili. Before long I was crying. It occurred to me that if my boys happened to walk in the kitchen, they would ask, “Why are you crying, Mommy?” They would be worried about me and would try to comfort me. Why? Because they have no experience with onions.
Now, if my husband happened to walk in while I wept onto my cutting board, he would laugh and make some smart remark like, “There’s no need to cry over dinner, honey.”
Why the different reaction? It’s obvious. My husband is older and wiser than my kids. He’s chopped onions a time or two and knows the water works are a simple physical reaction.
I believe the same principle applies when we write romance. An immature reader looks at the physical signs of attraction, believes the characters are in love, and is satisfied. An experienced reader knows infatuation for what it is and wants more depth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a sizzling, tension-filled interplay between hero and heroine. But if we want to truly engage our readers’ hearts, we must employ what they know to be true about genuine love.
That can be hard, can’t it? After all, if we struggle to show real love to our spouses and those around us, how much more difficult is it to have fictional characters put the word into action?
I suggest that as we formulate our main characters and plot lines, we pick one or two of the love principles from 1 Corinthians 13 to ascribe to our hero and heroine. As we write, we can focus on just that characteristic and how we can bring it to life on the page.
For instance, I have chosen “Love keeps no record of wrongs” for my heroine. Now I look for ways to make that truth evident between my heroine and hero. Maybe he offends her early in the story, and the next time they meet their interchange is strained. By having my heroine choose to let go of that offense or try to see the situation from his side, I can
• bring depth to the scene
• show a genuine aspect of love
• maybe surprise a reader who expected a clichéd fight-over-nothing.
Go ahead and give it a try next time you’re writing a scene. Just beneath the spice and sparks of physical attraction add a touch of true love in action. I think you’ll find that not only is your romance delicious, but it’s also genuine and heart-filling.
Evangeline Denmark has co-authored two children’s books, The Dragon and the Turtle (Waterbrook Press, 2010) and The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari (Waterbrook Press, 2011) and also writes adult fiction. Evangeline serves as secretary for Worship Write Witness and serves onions for dinner whenever she can. You can find Evangeline online at http://www.breathenbreatheout.blogspot.com and http://www.dragonandturtle.com