Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Author Allie Pleiter: The Kiss That Isn't



Way back at the beginning of my career, I read a romance novel with the most surprisingly romantic scene I’ve ever known: a man literally seducing his beloved by the way he set the table. She was a lover of fine manners, and he won her heart by setting a perfect table in the middle of a pioneer wilderness. I’ve never forgotten the effectiveness and creativity of that scene.
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While I don’t write seduction scenes, I try with each book to emulate the brilliance of that scene. The truth is the seduction wasn’t the pull there, it was the romance. That magic moment where a mind is won along with a heart. Where souls meet their mates. For me, to make that moment their first kiss is cheating. I strive for what I call “the kiss that isn’t.”
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Think of it as the polar opposite of “the issue that’s not the issue”--you know, when you argue with your spouse about the dishwasher but you’re really arguing about how you feel unappreciated? The craft of well-wielded subtext can make for a memorable book, and make us fall head-over-heels for the characters. We fall because we know why he loves what she did, or why he needs what she gave. It goes so much deeper than a wet smooch.
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I still get letters about the Kung Fu chai tea ceremony scene in my 2007 novel The Perfect Blend. Will woos Maggie by his attention to what she holds dear. A man paying rapt attention is downright knee-buckling, don’t you think? Sure, there’s sexual tension in the scene, but it goes several layers deeper.
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There’s a tender scene in my 2008 novel Bluegrass Hero where Emily tells Gil to close his eyes while she tries to get him to smell the difference in the many soaps she makes. It is intimate and romantic--not because of who’s hands are where (they never even touch), but because of what’s being shared.
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My current book, Falling for the Fireman, has two such scenes. One involves lighting a match while the other involves lighting a paper lantern. Both involve flame because fire has become the enemy to Chad and Jeannie in ways that go far deeper than a burning building. Both are “first kisses” that aren’t really kisses.
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How do you write such scenes? What makes them work? Here are a few tips:
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- Find a metaphor for the hero and heroine’s deepest needs. The tea ceremony’s attention to detail met Maggie’s thirst for validation. Lighting a match is a metaphor for Jeannie’s fight against the darkness of her recent trauma. What need does your hero or heroine have that can be expressed in an object or process?

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- Focus on non-touch sensory responses to detail. Sight, taste, smell...all of these can be wildly romantic and intimate. Think of touch as “cheating” and see how many of the other senses you can highlight.
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- Imbue an ordinary object with special meaning. Something as simple as a birthday candle or a red scarf can become a love note between the hero and heroine. This allows it to resurface over and over in the story and build the relationship.
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Scenes like these can give your readers those memorable moments where they sigh and smile. And the books that do that always end up on the keeper shelf.
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So share with us today what object or gesture would win your heart! If you're a writer, what “a kiss that isn't” scenes have you incorported into your own manuscripts?


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If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my February release “Falling for the Fireman,” please mention it in the comments section -- then watch the Weekend Edition for the winner!
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Falling for the Fireman
Harlequin Love Inspired February 2012
ISBN #978-0-373-87725-
6
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There's something achingly familiar about the look in fire marshal Chad Owens's eyes. Widowed mom Jeannie Nelworth knows firsthand what it is: loss, hurt and yes—bitterness. Ever since the fire that changed their lives, Jeannie's young son has borne that same look, pushing everyone away. So she's grateful when Chad tries to get through to the boy with the help of his trusty fire station dog.
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But the man who's all about safety and prevention keeps himself protected—from loving and losing again. Seems as if Jeannie will have to add his kind, guarded heart to her rebuilding efforts.
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An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the Midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois. The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, fourteen novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing. Visit her website at http://www.alliepleiter.com/ or her knitting blog at http://www.destiknitions.blogspot.com/

109 comments:

Lisa said...

LOOOOVE the topic of this post! True romance! I admit, my characters' relationship development has been lacking and this is just what they needed. Thanks, Allie!!

Natalie Monk said...

Ooops! Posted a comment, then realized I was signed in as my mom! lol

LOOOOVE the topic of this post! True romance! I admit, my characters' relationship development has been lacking and this is just what they needed. Thanks, Allie!!

Cathy Shouse said...

Allie,

This is exactly the post I needed for my WIP. I'm amazed at how many times this happens at Seekerville.

You have made a wonderful point, both for our characters and our real-life heros, about the true meaning of romance and love. You've not only given me some ideas for my story, but made me appreciate my husband on a deeper level. This is a true gift to me.

Thank you!

Would love to win the book.

cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

Cathy Shouse said...

On another note. Are you a member of Chicago North Chapter of RWA? I have been to Spring Fling twice and thoroughly enjoyed it. You have a great chapter. How has that chapter influenced you (if it has) ?

Virginia said...

OOO, I had to read this twice.

It made me think of so many little scenes I'd read or seen in movies. The scarf made me think of Sophie Kinsella's 'Shopaholic' series, and in the first she buys a green scarf, and then sells it to get out of financial trouble, and he buys it for her, even though they've broken up over her financial dishonesty. It's a really touching (and funny!) scene.

Ha, Natalie! I was wondering who Lisa was...

I'm definitely going back through my WIP and checking out the touching-is-cheating moments. I think this could really bring it to a higher level.

As always, an awesome Seekerville post!!

Nancy Kimball said...

Allie, I too love this post!
This is actually an upcoming scene in my WIP with a blind heroine and the hero who has worked with her to restore a garden that's very special to her. The first day the seeds have sprouted, which is a metaphor for her reclaimed self worth, he "sees" it for her by describing the tiny shoots in vivid detail that subtly hint in his choice of words and the cadence and manner he speaks how his feelings for her are beginning to no longer be able to be suppressed and are breaking through, like the new plants. It's their first "kiss" that isn't a kiss though I never would have known that without your post. =)
Would love a chance to win your new release. nancykimball at hotmail dot com

Mary Cline said...

Allie, This post has set my imagination a whirl, I think my writing is just about to reach, or at least reach for, a new and interesting level.
Thanks!

mcline at bbc dot net.

Ausjenny said...

I too enjoyed the post and will look for this more in books. I know I have read books where the hero has done something special that shows hes cares.
I think one that comes to mind is the hero in one of Cheryl Wyatts books. One sone has imaginary geese and the heroine is helping look after them and watches how he heards these imaginary geese so carefully for his son. Its such a touching scene and shows her his gentle side.
Would love to be entered.

Debra E. Marvin said...

"A man paying rapt attention is downright knee-buckling, don’t you think?"

Oh you are good!

I love this subject. And I think your fireman story is going to be very popular before anyone even opens the first page. Thanks for excellent examples, Allie.

Debra E. Marvin said...

My 'heart winner' would probably be registration to the ACFW Conference.

But Jesus has my heart already!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Wonderful post, Allie.

I can personally testify to Allie's scenes in her newest book. I read Falling for the Fireman and then read it again. Now I just go to those two scenes and sigh. Ahhhh. Really wonderful.

I have to agree with Cathy. This is a great post for appreciating husbands who do the little things for us that matter the most.

Peace, Julie

Jackie said...

You are so SMART. My husband may not say the most romantic things, but he gets me and supports me in incredible ways.
Thanks so much for sharing today.
I can't wait to read your book, sounds like a great one for Valentine!
Joyfully,
Jackie

Kirsten Arnold said...

This is one of the best posts I've read. I LOVE the topic! I'm right in the midst of revising a ms I'll have to make sure I include some "kisses that aren't." I can't think of any offhand, but right now my mind is on a gunfight.

But thanks so much, Allie, for this post!

--Kirsten

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Allie! Your scenes remind me of the one in the Meg Ryan movie, "French Kiss" where the hero is seeing if she can recognize the faint natural flavors/scents of vinyard samples. Can't wait to read your book!

Rose said...

Allie,

What a great topic! I really enjoyed reading your post. It puts me in mind of the saying 'it's the little things that matter'.

Best of luck with your book.

Glynna Kaye said...

Ahh, Natalie! A woman of many names and faces...! :)

I love this topic, too. The nuances of romance are so enriched when our characters truly take the time and give attention to more than a kiss!

Glynna Kaye said...

CATHY -- It truly IS the little things that count, isn't it? Sometimes the big "mandatory" romantic gestures that take little time or thought aren't nearly as touching as the ones where two people pay attention to each other.

Glynna Kaye said...

VIRGINIA -- I think I may remember that "Shopaholic" scene. Reminds me of the old Christmas classic where the couple each sacrifices something very personal to purchase something for the other.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Allie, I'm with all the others who have commented already. This post is a keeper. You have really helped show how to deepen the romance between our characters.

I love how your post has also helped some appreciate their husbands more. Its amazing all the little things they do and when we get busy, its so easy to forget.

Have fun here in Seekerville and thanks for coming and sharing with us.

Glynna Kaye said...

Have any of you published writers out there woven in scenes similar to Allie's "kiss that isn't"? Let us know which books! (I'm betting Julie Lessman has!)

Audra Harders said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Allie! It's always a pleasure to see you here.

I love writing subtext into novels. Oh how you can say one thing and mean a myriad of others. Talk about confusing the hero!

Thanks for reminding us of the subtle ways to woo the heart and mind : )

Glynna Kaye said...

NANCY -- That sounds like a WONDERFUL "not a kiss!"

Jamie Adams said...

This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning Allie! Thanks. You've given me some great ideas on how to improve my story.

I'm just about done and after reading your post am fired up :)

I'd love to be in the drawing for your book. I fell in love with a fireman and married him 17 years ago. (He's not a fireman anymore but the flames still burning)

It's a little uncanny how Seekerville manages to ALWAYS have just what I need to learn at the moment. I'm starting to think someones looking over my shoulder :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Allie, welcome back to Seekerville!

I love the thought of evoking emotion through scenes like that! And I love how Will Smith's character taught those maneuvers to hapless men in the movie "Hitch". So true and so funny!

Hey, I've got a fresh pot of Cafe Mocha and whipped cream... with dark chocolate drizzle, of course.

Who says women should be skin and bones???? Not I!!! ;)

Also brought blueberry muffins and fresh butter for the table. The blueberries were frozen fresh, but I think that makes them "juice" in the muffins even better!

Dianna Shuford said...

Wow, great points in this post (and great advice). I must say that I've never thought about romance in quite this way. I love this angle and I'll definitely have to work on this.

Thanks for sharing part of your process, Allie, and I would love to be included in the drawing for your book.

Jeanne T said...

Allie, I learned so much from this post! I'm going to come back and re-read it later. I'd never thought of a kissing scene without a kiss. :) As I read this, I realized I wrote in a scene with tension and no kiss--where my heroine is dancing with a man who isn't her husband....

My husband gives me many kisses through his words, and his incredible support and encouragements as I journey on this writing path. :)

Jeanne T said...

I forgot to mention, I'd love to be in the drawing for your book. :)
wetalk2biz(at)q(Lower case Q)(dot)com.

CaraG said...

Thank you for a wonderful posting.

I just finished a book in which the heroine's "iffy" fiance, who's known her forever, can't correctly name her favorite flavor of ice cream. Later the other guy, who's been around her only a short time, answers without hesitation although he's puzzled by the question. He doesn't understand the significance of his knowing even when the heroine proposes to him right then.

Loved that scene, which stands out in my memory far more than any physical love scene.

Thanks for the reminder of what heartwarming romance is about.

Please include me in the drawing.

gilliach(at)yahoo(dot)com

pol said...

Good morning Allie,
Love your post today and what woman here would not...
True Romance, every womans dream.
I have a husband who is not affectionate and have always dreamed one day he would surprise me with really special birthday.
still waiting-some men dont get it.
I have great neices that have date nights with their husbands and think it is just wonderful young people think of doing this.
I would love to be in drawing for your Love inspired book -love to read them...
Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

Mary Connealy said...

I really like this, Allie. I can imagine right now 'the kiss that isn't' and I love the idea of it.

Donna said...

Thank you Allie for this great post! This topic is one of those things I recognize when I read it (and realize how rarely it's done) but I needed someone to flesh it out for me to really get it. Now I do! I know just what scene to apply it to.
It also has me trying to think of something special to do for my DH. Thanks again!
I would love to be entered
lostie815 at hotmail dot com

CDeesBooks said...

I love "kisses that aren't." I appreciate it when characters actually have a mental and emotional connection before jumping into the physical (kissing). I love it when characters just watch each other, or pick up on likes and favorites of the other person.

I was just rewatching the end of North and South last night, and the part where John Thornton watches (absorbs) Margaret Hale while she's explaining her "business" proposition is just as romantic, if not more so, than the actual kiss.

I remember those scenes in "The Perfect Blend" and "Bluegrass Hero" and those books ARE sitting on my keeper shelves and I've reread them a couple of times. I'll definitely be watching for "Falling for the Fireman!"

Definitely a favorite Seekerville post, too!

wfnren said...

Please enter me in the contest. This is a great article and the book sounds good also.

wfnren(at)aol(dot)com
wrensthoughts.blogspot.com

Carol Moncado said...

Allie -

What a wonderful concept! I'm sure Julie's done it and I know others have too. Deeanne Gist has a couple of scenes like that off the top of my head. They can be wonderful, but I do love that first kiss too ;).

In my first MS, I have... it's more than a scene, but...

Heroine was supposed to get married but the sleazeball cheated on her a couple weeks before the wedding.

Hero [her high school sweetheart who ripped her heart to shreds 5 years earlier] is back in her life and takes her on a day trip on what was to be her wedding day. It shows how well he still knows her and is just what she needs to take her mind off everything.

Ah, I love their story. /happy sigh/

I would love to be entered for a book :D.

Allie Pleiter said...

Natalie and Cathy I'm glad you realized what this layer can do for your characters. It happened by accident for me at first, then I realized what a powerful tool it can be!

Allie Pleiter said...

Yes, Cathy, I'll be at Spring Fling this year. I'm teaching two workshops so you're bound to see me!

Allie Pleiter said...

Virginia--don't you love the idea of "touching is cheating"? It encapsulates the whole concept and pushes us farther as writers to bring in so many other elements. Maybe I should get buttons made ;)

Kav said...

I'm so excited -- you've just identified the wow factor that I haven't been able to identify before. This is why the romance works!!! I'm having a light bulb moment so thank you for that.

Spoiler alert: When I was reading this I thought of Winter's End by Ruthy Logan Herne -- when Marc creates Kayla's garden...that just melted me inside out.

And Kelly Long (Amish author) is very good at the kiss that isn't scenes too. Blissful sigh.

I'm going to be watching out for more of those moments when I read.

Allie Pleiter said...

Nancy, the scene you described is EXACTLY what I am talking about--well done!

Allie Pleiter said...

Mary Cline--saying I've nudged your writing to a new level is just about the highest compliment I can think of--thank you and best wishes on your writing.

Allie Pleiter said...

Debra--I think they key here is the distinction between "seduction" and "romance." Rapt attention is romantic. Little things are spouse do are romantic. Seduction isn't on the same level at all, and it won't speak to our true hearts the way romance does.

Allie Pleiter said...

Julie-you're so sweet! Thanks!

Allie Pleiter said...

Ausjenny--that kind of touch is what makes Cheryl's book such keepers, don't you think?

Allie Pleiter said...

Jackie--there are a lot of real-life applications to this theory, aren't there? You're SMART for seeing that in your husband.

Allie Pleiter said...

Kristen-Gunfights are important, too (in the right subgenre, of course). My next book will have a train robbery, so I may need help from you :)

Allie Pleiter said...

Sandra--I'm glad you got so much out of the post. Isn't it amazing how the strongest concepts are often so simple?

Allie Pleiter said...

Jamie, Audra and Rose--thanks for the comments. Can anyone think of examples from other books?

Allie Pleiter said...

Ruth-
That's one of the reasons I find HITCH so romantic. And as for the coffee and muffins, I'll be ringing your doorbell in about 5 minutes...

Allie Pleiter said...

Diana and Jeanne-delighted to know I've sparked your imaginations with this idea. Hope it does great things to your writing that have you and your readers sighing happily.

Allie Pleiter said...

CaraG--that IS a telling detail, isn't it? By the way, my favorite flavor is chocolate-peanut butter, just in case anyone is wondering.

Nancy Kimball said...

Thank you Glynna and Allie. I'm going to be even more aware of what I'm doing when I get to the actual writing of that scene and now know what I'm going for,

CDeesbooks, North & South is one of my favorite movies. I love that moment too. Especially when they make eye contact on the opposite trains and he pulls that flower out of his pocket and says "You might guess where I've been." TOTAL SWOON =) You know my favorite character in that movie is actually Mr. Bell? :-p

Jamie Adams said...

There is a Kiss that isn't moment in my wip. This one takes place near the end so today I plan on adding more that are lighter, sweeter earlier in the story.

It takes place after the dark moment when all is lost and my heroine has said no to the love of her life's marriage proposal and she's dashed the dreams of her three young wards all because her main motive at this point in life is to clear the name of her falsely accused father.

Heartbroken the hero sacrifices his time and well being (It's a western) to locate the item he knows the heroine believes will clear her father. After a trying ordeal he finds it.

When he delivers it without expecting anything in return that's the kiss that isn't moment.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Great post, Allie, and one I will look back on!

Since I don't write (much) romance, I don't have a lot of "kisses that aren't" in my works right now. Although in my current MS, the heroine has a spiritual awakening, and when she tells her best friend (a guy) about it, she realizes that he has been praying for this to happen to her all along. It makes her see that he has been in love with her, and that she loves him, too.

Love to read your books, so please enter me in the drawing!

Stephludwig at hotmail dot com

Myra Johnson said...

Fascinating topic, Allie--thanks so much for giving us your insight into an area that could really boost the emotional impact in our books!

Reading through your post and everyone's comments, I was contemplating how I could be using this technique in the story I'm working on right now.

One thing I've already done is to give the hero and heroine (who are "just" friends as the story begins) teasing nicknames they've called each other since their teen years. And every time they use those nicknames, there's the subtext that these names do NOT reflect how they REALLY feel about each other.

Tina Radcliffe said...

This is just pure genius and you get brownie points for sharing this!!

Nancy Kimball said...

Allie,
Do you think this is most effective when the initiator/giver is the hero?
I'm really wondering what the give back could be for the heroine to "move in" first, if you will in my WIP.
In a workshop it was stated that for a kiss, the romance reader actually prefers to be in the hero POV. (I know I do, for sure). I wonder if that principle would apply here.
Oh this has spawned so much creativity, thank you again!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Chocolate Peanut butter is good, but not as good as dark chocolate with sea salt.

Melissa Jagears said...

I'm plotting a new book at the moment and I have a scene already planned out of "Telling her I love you without words," but since I don't think they'll kiss before then, maybe it's really "the kiss that isn't." :)

buy term papers said...

thanks for the great post!

Allie Pleiter said...

Kav- I think you're right...it does create that WOW factor we all have trouble pinning down. I watch for those moments now, and I suspect all of us will.

Allie Pleiter said...

Mary and Donna- I think the wording "kiss that isn't" is just so much more vivid than "subtext" --it sets our imaginations off and running, doesn't it?

Christina B said...

Wonderful insights, Allie! I always love the scenes where the hero and heroine share a connection that takes them by surprise. Or when one of them does something selfless to show their admiration for the other.

Subconscious emotion is a powerful thing, so triggering that as yet another one of the main senses, is automatically swoon worthy stuff. Can't wait to read one of your books and discover how you weave this into the storyline! :)

Allie Pleiter said...

CDees - how lovely to know I've made it onto your keeper shelf! Makes an author's heart sing to hear that :)

Allie Pleiter said...

Carol- think of all the sensory moments your hero and heroine can have on that "take your mind off it" trip! You can have a lot of fun with those scenes if you put this concept into practice--they can fall for each other before they even realize it.

Allie Pleiter said...

Nancy Kimball-- ah, the TOTAL SWOON moment. It's what we live for. Now I'm going to have to go back and find North and South...it's been eons since I've seen it and you've made me want to see it again.

Allie Pleiter said...

Jamie--yes, you've gotten my point...they are cumulative. The major plot point is important, but the many little romances along the way are what steal our heart. If your major moment is dark and serious, than light and sweet ones will be an effective counterpoint.

Allie Pleiter said...

Stephanie, that does sound like a great moment. See if you can find an object metaphor for that realization and plant it as a "kiss that isn't" somewhere earlier in the story.

Allie Pleiter said...

Myra- I've never used nicknames in a story before but I like the idea.

Allie Pleiter said...

Tina- aww thanks!

Missy Tippens said...

Allie, I'm just popping to say hello and welcome!! I'll have to come back later to read your post. Thanks for joining us!

Julie Lessman said...

ALLIE ... WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, AND WHAT A PROVOCATIVE POST!!!

As a girl who's not inclined to have a lot of nonkisses in her books, I REALLLLY enjoyed your take on this A LOT and plan to implement it (and probably shock my reader friends to death!!). :)

Glynna said: "Have any of you published writers out there woven in scenes similar to Allie's "kiss that isn't"? Let us know which books! (I'm betting Julie Lessman has!)"

Well, not as well as Allie, that's for darn sure, but I did do a few that I remember, one at the behest of my husband who said, "Really, Julie?? Does every scene have to end with a kiss??"

"Un, no, sweetie-pie, it doesn't," and I set out to prove him right. In A Hope Undaunted, there's a scene where Marcy feels bad for her husband Patrick because he's had heart problems and been relegated to sleeping in his bed downstair in the parlour to avoid steps. Of course, he's a real grouch, and they get in a fight. After she goes to their room to go bed alone, she gets a rush of love for him and sneaks downstairs to slip in his bed to hold him. He startles awake and originally, I had him become a little amorous, but my hubby said, "give it a rest, Julie," so I had her holding him and him suddenly snoring. I actually think it was very tender, at least for me!! :)

Also had a very tender, non-kiss dancing scene between the hero and heroine in A Heart Revealed where she's teaching him to dance that I feel is about as close I come to romantic non-kiss scene. :)

Thanks for the fun post and great suggestions!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Allie, you said: "
"A man paying rapt attention is downright knee-buckling, don’t you think?"

I do heartily agree with this even if I don't implement it all that much in my books ... :)

The best example I have of this is not from my books, but from the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond, when Deborah watches Ray demonstrate the new vacuum on the drapes. She stares there, mouth agape, with stars in her eyes and says, "I have never been more attracted to you." My hubby and I laughed SO much over that one because it is SO very true!!

Hugs,
Julie

Nancy Kimball said...

Thanks, Allie. You know, that yellow rose is so obviously their love for each other. I wouldn't have known that without your insight today.
I LOVE how she says "I thought those were all gone" and he answers
"I found it in the hedgerow... you have to look hard."
WOW that's crazy now that I SO get this!
If anyone wants to check out just this scene, it's on youtube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcVIV8plzWk

LyndeeH said...

Hi Allie,
Will I see you tonight? Great post.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Allie! I love your creative tips on writing romantic scenes! To use details of setting to ramp up emotion in a scene is a powerful tool.

You knit beautifully. How do you manage it all?

Janet

PatriciaW said...

Great topic, Allie. Just added Falling to the Fireman to my TBR list. And just cut a first kiss from my wip because when I wrote the kiss, it took some of the magic from the scene. I knew something was off, but couldn't quite put my finger on it. Reading this--That magic moment where a mind is won along with a heart. Where souls meet their mates. For me, to make that moment their first kiss is cheating. I strive for what I call “the kiss that isn’t.--made it so clear.

Jackie S. said...

Love the cover on your new book....would like to be entered to win! Loved Bluegrass Blessings...and want to read more of your books! Thanks!!

Vince said...

Hi Allie:

You wrote:

“A man paying rapt attention is downright knee-buckling, don’t you think?”

I couldn’t agree more with this. In fact, I recently wrote a whole post about what women find sexy in a hero and this was a key point. I think your examples will be idea for my book on the topic. I would love to read more of your writing insights!

The best example of this that I have found is in Sandra Leesmith’s “The Price of Victory” where the heroine is the only sibling not to finish college and she is trying very hard to win her father’s love by becoming a professional bicycle champion. To her winning is an existential need. The hero is a current and past champion who is ten years older than the heroine.

He listens to her deepest needs and dreams and offers to help her achieve the goals that are most important to her. He says he understands and that he has been there himself. He validates her goals and her very being. The scene is like witnessing soul mates coming together for the first time. “The Price of Victory” is like a treasure chest for other writers.

You Also wrote:

For me, to make that moment their first kiss is cheating. I strive for what I call “the kiss that isn’t.”

I think Ruth does this all the time. I just loved her book about the candy maker heroine who had two men jilt her at the altar and who swore off men forever and who did her best not to rent a room to a handsome single man, the hero, only to bring him cookies as a welcoming gift! Wonderful. I think in many of Ruth’s examples: “the kiss that isn’t” is apt to be “flirting with benefits”.

I also think that “the kiss that isn’t” doesn’t even require that the hero or heroine be in the scene. In one of Ruth’s books, an older and wiser woman can see the hero is in love with the heroine even before he knows it himself. She tells him about a quilt the heroine was going to buy but when the family business failed she could not pick it up. The hero begins to ‘feel’ his love when he realizes how much he wants the heroine to have that quilt. I thought this scene was very romantic and revealing. Better yet, the heroine was not there physically.

To me the real joy of reading a romance is ‘seeing’ the hero and heroine fall in love in a slow step-by-step process. That’s the romance in romance.

Vince

Please put me in for your book. vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, what a lovely day!

Hey, the muffin plate's empty but we did a nice yellow cake with dark chocolate frosting this afternoon...

Just for the lot o' youse!

Dig in and enjoy while you chat. Fresh cooler of cokes and sweet tea, too.

And coffee. Of course.

Vince said...

Hi Ausjenny:

You are very intuitive. I always look forward to your comments. I found your mention of Cheryl Wyatt’s ‘geese’ scene very enlightening. I too remembered that scene as soon as you mentioned it.

And here’s what I found so interesting: I experienced the same heartwarming feelings remembering that scene as I experienced when I first read it. While I don’t remember the exact book or the exact context, I remember how I felt.

I think when we read a romance we lay down an emotional memory track that goes along with the narrative. That is, of course, if the author provides the emotional stimulus. Cheryl is very good at doing this.

I just wonder: when readers remember favorite scenes from a romance, how many also experience the emotions that went along with those scenes?

I think a post about laying down emotional tracks, analogous to sound tracks for films, would be a good topic for Tina to work on?

Thanks again for your comments.

Vince

Allie Pleiter said...

Julie-
Those sound like good romantic scenes to me. Hey, it just occurred to me..perhaps I should call them "near kisses" like the phrase "near misses." I'm a sucker for a good pun...

Allie Pleiter said...

Nancy-
Just watched the scene. TOTAL SWOON. That was the "kiss that isn't" with a bonus "kiss that sure is!" Thanks!

Allie Pleiter said...

PatriciaW- glad I could make it so clear for you! It's one of those "of course!" moments when it dawns on you, isn't it?

Allie Pleiter said...

Vince-
All good points. I'll have to put THE PRICE OF VICTORY on my TBR list. Yes, thinking about it in layers is a good analogy.

Melanie Dickerson said...

What a wonderful post, Allie! This really made me think! I so love those kinds of scenes, and now I'm wondering why I haven't put more of them in my books!!!

I think in The Merchant's Daughter, there are a couple of scenes that are kind of like what you're talking about, when the hero defends the heroine, and when they say good-bye to each other near the end and think they'll never see each other again, and the hero gives her his Bible, which means so much to both of them.

In my current WIP, there's a scene (I haven't written it yet) that is like what you're talking about, although they do actually kiss. It's their first kiss. They've been captured by the bad guy and thrown in the dungeon. Both of them are blindfolded, their hands are tied behind their backs, and the hero makes his way over to the heroine as she cries and tells him she's been in love with him since she was seven but was too afraid of rejection to tell him. They both have vulnerability issues, so, yeah, you might be able to imagine the rest! LOL ;-)

Heather Day Gilbert said...

As someone who enjoys watching Chinese flicks because of the understated romantic tension, I totally get what you're talking about. I love the strength of NON-touching romance--where the minds meet. I'll definitely keep that in mind as I start my new novel.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Okay. I've got to see how you do this. Please include me in the drawing.

This is difficult for me because I'm a touchy kind of gal. I have to really hold back the reigns sometime when I'm writing a scene and make my characters behave themselves. I do know what you're talking about, but I've never really examined it before. You've definitely got me thinking!

Patty Wysong said...

LOVE this post!! Great topic and food for thought. =] Thanks, Allie!

Cindy W. said...

Hi Allie. What a wonderful post. I always feel like I've gone to class when I stop here in Seekerville and read all the wonderful posts. Thank you so much!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Renee said...

Great tips in this post! Thanks, Allie!

Walt Mussell said...

I like the discussion of where you focus on one item and somehow make that special as it shows your listening.

Whitney said...

I love this post, Allie! You must visit Seekerville with your wisdom more often! :p

This is really a wealth of knowledge for Christian romance writers, though. I love this:

Think of touch as “cheating” and see how many of the other senses you can highlight.

It keeps the reader on the edge of the story’s romance rocket as they wait for the climax, when the rocket finally takes off. These non-touching sensory moments provide that giddy feeling and keep the reader from feeling “cheated.” For me, it also shows the hero and heroine have something between them—something they’re sharing more than just spit. I know that my hero is falling for my heroine for who she is before he ever touches her, and vice versa.

I’m just on the verge on being to the place where I can write “those” scenes in my story, so this post has come at the perfect time. I actually have a red scarf planned in my story. ; )

Of course, now I have to read you newest book! Please enter me in the drawing.

Whitney

Whitney said...

Ooooh! Gotta get my North and South lovin’ in here! Totally swoony movie! I love the brooding, non-perfect hero, and the intelligent, guarded heroine. Mmmm. I need to rent it again!

Glynna Kaye said...

WOW! I knew Allie's topic would be a conversation generator. Wish I could have stayed around all day--now I have to catch up on all the posts!

Thanks so much for joining us today, Allie! You've given us all lots to think about--and hopefully apply!

Sherri Shackelford said...

Brilliant post! Thank you, Allie.

Allie Pleiter said...

Linette-You've hit on an important point...this doesn't come naturally. We tend to think of touch first in a romance. It's why use of the other senses can be so powerful. We have to be deliberate about it, though, and not "cheat". Hey, that's another button I could have made: "Kissing is cheating." :)

Debby Giusti said...

Great post, Allie! Thanks for being with us in Seekerville!

Debby Giusti said...

Great post, Allie! Thanks for being with us in Seekerville!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks, Allie! Love this topic.

And I finally got to see North and South a few weeks ago. LOVE that last scene - worth the whole two discs! So I know what you're talking about.

Gotta go plot some 'near kisses'.

Cheers,
Sue

MaryC said...

Allie, this was terrific. I'm so late coming in to comment because I took your advice and just went and wrote a scene like that. I hope it works for the book; it certainly left me smiling for my characters.

I'd love a chance to be entered for your book. Thanks so much for sharing your tips with us today!
Mary

Patricia said...

I actually already have Falling for the Fireman on my TBR/wishlist.
So yes please. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

plb1050[at]gmail[dot]com

Touching and cheating this is a powerful feeling.

Edwina said...

Allie,
Thanks for a great post! I would love to read your book!

edwina(at)edwinacowgill(dot)com

marybelle said...

I'd love to read FALLING FOR THE FIREMAN thank you.

A great post.

Cindy Regnier said...

Allie thanks for the post. My imagination gears are turning trying to come up with the next kiss that isn't. I can't wait to read Falling for a Fireman

Andrea Strong said...

Allie said: "Think of touch as “cheating” and see how many of the other senses you can highlight."

Speaking as a woman who cut her teeth, so to speak, on steamy romance novels (I started reading them in 7th grade and didn't give them up entirely until age 29), this kind of writing is wonderful to me. When I discovered Christian romance in college, I learned the value of all the other ways people in love can show those feelings.

Also the "kiss that isn't" is a great way to build that romantic tension so the kiss that is will be that much more explosive.

I'm late to this party, but I'd love to be entered for the book.

andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

Rachelle said...

Wow. This blog post literally blows my mind...I have NEVER thought about writing those romantic scenes this way and yet this is Exactly what I love while reading...the kiss that isn't. Perfect advice for me today. Thank you!

Pam Hillman said...

First, I'm a day late, but this was great stuff! Thanks for visiting, Allie.

Second, Andrea Strong, no way are you past 29!

Just sayin'

DebH said...

oh please put me in the running for a copy of the book... i absolutely love this post. i'm going to save this to remember to work that into my WIPs.

i do so love it when my husband works to do something he knows i love as an expression of his love. sometimes his efforts don't quite succeed - but then i love him even more just because he tried.

and Vince... i say when i remember my favorite scenes, i definitely remember the emotions i felt when i read said scenes. i think your topic suggestion is brilliant.

thanks for the awesome post Seekers!

Barbara Shelton said...

Oh my, Allie - I feel I'll be expressing my feelings through tears and sighs as I read your book. The kind of story that really appeals to me on a personal level. The cover is very interesting. Thank you for for giving us the chance to win this great giveaway.

In Christ,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com