Love in the Digital Age, Part Two – How to Write Well About Love: a Ten-Minute Exercise

Posted on 15. Feb, 2012 by in Blog, Writing Tips

Unless you’re a genre writer, it can be tricky to produce good quality writing when your topic is love. Genre readers – those who love their bodice-rippers – have certain expectations in terms of plot and language and writers are expected to fill them. That’s nice and simple. For mainstream or literary writers, however, it can be time-consuming and difficult to write in a fresh way about love.

Here’s an example from ‘ Godsend: A Love Story for Grownups’ by NYT bestselling author Dalma Heyn and Richard Marek, of a description that works:

“Thick brown hair laced with strands of whitish gray makes the grown man roaming around the store’s kayak department look, at first, like a sun-bleached teenager. Pale blue eyes stand out against a tan. An athletic, fit body adds to an impression of a life spent outdoors. He’s not prematurely gray, he’s middle-aged–an important point, since it opens the field to women his own age, older or younger. He’s employed–as evidenced by the manila envelope clutched under his arm and the collection of pens and pencils poking out of the pocket of his fleece Patagonia jacket. Interested in his work, clearly, from a tell-tale, if cliched, pencil over his ear. A writer or an editor, no doubt. Smart, then, which is also important. No wedding ring, which is most important.

“He’s got his eye on a blonde woman in the skiing section. This is also relevant. For, while any unattached, ambulatory, attractive hetersexual male would do, Evan Cameron is a hunk: an athletic, brainy hunk actively looking for love. We have a catch here, not just a candidate.”

Excellent stuff!

Why does this work? First of all, the voice is strong. Someone is telling us about Evan, and that means there’s a story already in motion.

Secondly, it’s humorous. He’s ambulatory. Hooray!

Thirdly, he’s an editor or writer, so he’s intelligent and attractive – the type of character highly likely to appeal to mainstream and literary readers.

Fourthly, despite his intelligence (and, we surmise, a healthy dose of sensitivity), he’s got his eye on a blonde woman in skiing. So not only is he ambulatory, he’s looking for love and ready to pursue this woman. Who doesn’t want to read something intelligent about this age-old chase?!

So here’s the exercise: spend a few minutes thinking about one of your own ‘chase’ experiences. Remember where you were, what was said, how you felt. Then pick a character (real or imagined). Write a list of five attractive physical traits and five appealing character traits, such as sensitivity, generosity, sense of humor – whatever appeals to you. Write for ten minutes, without stopping, and describe your character.

To find out more about Evan Cameron and the details of his chase, you can buy the eBook on Kindle. It’s reduced to 99 cents ON KINDLE NATION.

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