We're romance writers.
But how exactly do you write, falling in love? ( Love, love Andrea Bocelli, sigh!)
One theory would be to recapture those feelings of the first time you fell in love and simply put them on paper. So stop for a moment and take a mental stroll back to when you were in Jr. high, or high school.
Was it your sixth grade crush? Whose picture was on your wall as a teenager? What about those first infatuations that made you melt like chocolate on a warm summer day when you simply gazed at their photo?
The romantic arc is all about the emotional journey that ends up with your hero and heroine finally together.
Dr James Dobson explains it nicely in his book Love for a Lifetime: “Bonding refers to the emotional covenant that links a man and woman together for life and makes them intensely valuable to one another. It is the specialness that sets those two lovers apart from every other couple on the face of the earth. It is God's gift of companionship to those who have experienced it."
For you The Hero's Two Journey fans like me, Michael Hauge's characters go through the journey of discovery as they move from identity to essence and he sums it up nicely:
The reason two people get together is because the romance character recognizes the hero's essence under his identity and falls in love with that. This is the person who sees the hero just as they are. The characters must see each other emotionally naked.
Though attributed to author Linda Howard the Stages of Intimacy were identified by Dr. Desmond Morris, and are mentioned in Dr. Dobson's book. You can find a detailed disussion by Dr. Dobson here. I encourage you to print this up and use it to help you track the romantic arc of your story.
1. Eye to Body.
2. Eye to Eye.
3. Voice to Voice.
4. Hand to Hand
5. Hand to Shoulder
6. Hand to Waist
7. Face to Face.
8. Hand to Head.
9-12 are sexual and private.
To help my own writing I've begun to develop my own Falling in Love Arc. These steps have been adjusted since they were first mentioned in my 2010 blog post.
1. Awareness. This involves the introduction of one or more of these senses: smell, sight, and hearing.
2. Heightened Awareness. Includes the first three senses and add to it touch.
3. Emotional Discovery. The characters journey of emotional discovery begins as they reveal their character to each other. This may be through observation, and interaction and ideally through story conflict.
4. The Almost Kiss: Totally my favorite part of the romantic arc as it builds romantic tension. It can be used several times in a book.
5. The First Kiss. All the senses collide: smell, sight, hearing, touch and taste. The first kiss can be tentative, it can be exciting and passionate... depending on your story. But it better be memorable.
6. Emotional Commitment. The startling realization that they are emotionally committed to another person (whether they like it or not). This will intensify as the story proceeds.
7. Emotional Setback. With realization often comes denial and or fear and an emotional setback before final acceptance.
8. Acceptance. The declaration of I Love You. Often first self admission then verbal admission.
9. The Big Kiss. The mutual acknowledgement I love you kiss.
One of my favorite examples of The Romantic Arc is from the Australian TV series, McLeod's Daughter's. The characters Tess and Nick. And my absolute all time favorite is Anne and Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables the series.
Now for some romantic passages that highlight these steps and a few video clips for inspiration. In theory I should be able to find all the steps in every book I open. But for fun, we'll mix it up.
His balance faltered when he realized she'd smiled at him. Rocky Mountain Hero, Audra Harders.
He shot her a covert glance. Dainty little thing, but the coltish figure he remembered from the church volleyball team had filled out and the carelessly cropped hair now tumbled down her back. High Country Hearts, Glynna Kaye.
These clips demonstrate awareness and move to heightened awareness so nicely.
Persuasion, 1995, the movie.
The hurt tone of her voice made him want to pull her close, to comfort. Instead, he eased his arm out of her grasp. At the moment, even incidental contact left him reeling. The Guy Next Door, Missy Tippens.
How could she resist such a man? Handsome, charming, bigger than life and he owned a hardware store. Safe in the Fireman's Arms, Tina Radcliffe.
Admit it, Annemarie. You've grown attached to Sam Vickary, and you'll miss having him underfoot. When the Clouds Roll By, Myra Johnson
A desire to protect her stirred deep within Frank when he saw Collen standing at the window as he pulled his truck out of the drive.-Stranded, Debby Giusti.
The Almost Kiss:
Noses nearly touching, they both froze. Seconds ticked by as her warm breath kissed his face. Dan swallowed. It took every last bit of resolve in him not to touch his lips to her soft inviting mouth. Stranded with the Rancher, Tina Radcliffe
The First Kiss
Is there another better than the First Kiss from North & South?
He cherished her with his lips for long moments. He had never dared hope for so much. Or rather he'd hoped, but he'd never dared believe. -Wildflower Bride, Mary Connealy.
Ben's hand slid to her smooth, long neck, then burrowed into her hair as he gently lifted her head toward him. By the time he leaned in to touch his mouth to hers, he was near dizzy. Mending the Doctor's Heart, Tina Radcliffe.
A new reality punched him in the gut. One that he wasn't ready for.
He might be nuts about Cassidy too.
The idea shook him more than a five-alarm fire in a fifty-story building. The Baby Bond, Linda Goodnight.
He should run screaming. Back away as far as possible. He didn't need a woman toting an emotional load. He didn't need a relationship with a woman who had an ongoing love affair with trendsetting looks and spiked heels.-Winter's End, Ruth Logan Herne.
He cradled her face in his hands. "I want to be your husband. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? Last Minute Bride, Janet Dean.
The Big Kiss.
There aren't any better big kissing scenes than Julie Lessman's. Check them out here.
Feel free to share your favorite passages from your books or others that exemplify these stages. Or tell us your favorite romantic arc characters from television or movies.
One commenter today will receive the Seeker book of your choice, as currently available in print or ebook on Amazon.com only. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
And if you think you might be ready for the advanced romance and kissing class and you don't have a copy of Julie Lessman's Romance-ology 101 (why not???) we'll throw in a print copy! Tell us you want it.
And don't forget to mention your Speedbo progress for a chance at this week's Speedbo prizes!
Originally from Western, N.Y., Seeker Tina Radcliffe left home for a tour of duty with the Army Security Agency stationed in Augsburg, Germany and ended up in Tulsa Oklahoma. While living in Tulsa she spent ten years as a Certified Oncology R.N. Her career also includes being a library cataloger and a pharmacy clerk.
Tina is a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist, a 2014 ACFW Mentor of the Year finalist, a 2014 Golden Quill finalist and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award winner. She has won first place in over twenty RWA chapter affiliated contests in her career. Tina is also a short story writer and has sold TWELVE short stories to Woman’s World Magazine. She currently resides in Arizona where she writes inspirational romance for Harlequin Love Inspired and independently publishes sweet romances. www.tinaradcliffe.com