Happy Valentines Day!
In the spirit of Valentine’s I’d like to write about how to incorporate love into writing.
First make sure everyone in your book is drop dead gorgeous, then make them witty, have super strength and intellect—basically make them amazing. And then have lots of steamy scenes.
There won’t be any shirtless men with abs, or smoky eyed women with luscious locks of hair here. If you’re struggling to write romance try Bumble. We’re not covering JUST that sort of love here, but rather, love on a broader scale.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.” – Tim Keller
I love this quote because I’ve found it to true in my own life and my own life is a huge incubator of inspiration I draw from for my writing.
I don’t have a romantic relationship in my life right now but I do have people I love. Family, friends-like family, and friends—people who’ve seen me at my worst and still loved me. I love those people and when I write, I hope to channel the fierce love I have for them into the relationships I build between my different characters. Those sorts of bonds can tie us stronger together than any forces of evil I conjure up in my writing.
Why is there such a deep bond of friendship between people that exists outside of just romantic relations? How come my brothers can greet me when I go home with their usual phrase of “Jang pang le” which translates to “You’ve gained weight” and I laugh and hug them tight?
It’s a variety of things. Here are a few things I use to build those bonds between my characters.
It’s not hard to love the always on, smiling, cheery, well-groomed versions of ourselves. But what about the stressed out, sick or depressed version that we try and hide?
“Often times it’s our worst moments that define us.”
What is your character’s worst moment? Answering that question has been hugely helpful for me in my book.
Write out the scene. It doesn’t have to be something you include in your book but it helps you to better understand your character. The times I have decide to incorporate the scenes into my book I’ve found them to be relationship building gold.
We all have some.
They sound completely lame to everyone else. They have a way of making those on the inside even tighter. When done right, having inside jokes between characters, and the readers, can be a great way to build and deepen those relationships in your book.
I’ve found some of the best inside jokes often come from the worst circumstances.
Take for instance a real life situation that happened to my family while traveling abroad. We ended up at a complete dive hotel. We were trying to make the best of it but by the time we saw the beds with hairs in them we’d had enough. As we left the small hotel, everyone who worked there stared at us with slack jaw shock. Literally everyone. It was as if we’d stumbled upon a family of under bites.
At the time, it was a mortifying experience. Now, to express disgust or disapproval we’ll sometimes give each other exaggerated slack-jaw stares. It gets us laughing every time.
How can you use painful, mortifying or hard experiences and turn them into inside jokes?
There are people who know you and then there are people who really know you.
Some know about parts of your life while others walk with you through those parts. There’s just no substitute for going through life’s joys and heartaches with others. Enough said.
In the end, so much of love boils down to being known.
As a writer you have a unique challenge—to demonstrate love between your characters but also on another harder level. You have to let your reader in on enough of your characters’ lives that they fall in love with your characters.
Showing your characters at their worst, sticking it out with them when things get rough, helping them to get it even when everyone else in the book doesn’t—adds that bond of knowing between reader and character.
I left off the rest of Tim Keller’s quote at the start. Here’s it is…
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.”
We crave to be both known and loved for it. Remember that as you write.
Candace off to bed after a fantastic Galentines night celebration.