Friday, February 13, 2015

Of Love and Writing

By Sarah Reichert

Being a writer (of the romance genre) you would think I’d be in my element when writing about love, especially this time of year.  But it’s not always the case.  Love is a tricky thing.  It can be elusive and cunning.  It doesn’t always follow rules, and it rarely plays fair. 

Yet love is quintessential to all stories, across all genres, because it’s a basic human emotion that drives our decisions, desires, and needs.  Love can carry your readers through your story by binding them to the purpose and fulfillment of your character. 

When writing about love, in all its wonderful and twisted ways, always keep the human element of your characters in mind. Your character’s connections will be more believable, when you start with their own unique path to finding, or losing love. 

No two characters are a like, and so, no two characters will fall in love the same way, show love the same way, react to it the same way, or pursue it the same way.  Broken characters will shy from it or embrace it too quickly.  Bold characters deny it as weakness or expect it without having to work for it.  Some characters will see sex as the path to connecting to the heart while others will see the heart as the doorway to physical intimacy. 

Love in your writing doesn’t have to be sexual in nature or even between two humans.  Love of money, love of power, love of self, love of an ideal or belief are all defining qualities. 

A lonely dowager’s need for love drives her decision to fund a penniless boy. A man needs to reconcile with his parents in order to find a connection to his son. A strained friendship between teenagers must be amended within the dynamic of their new adulthood. A man learns to cope with PTSD through the unconditional love of a therapy dog. 

My advice to you, gentle writer, is to study the patterns and connections of love.  Not all of them are attractive.  Some can be dark and gnarled, tainted with hurt and distrust. Some can be soul-freeing and uncommonly beautiful.  Embrace whatever you find, even the scary and twisted bits.  It will add realism and depth to your work. 

How do you celebrate the human capacity for love in your writing?

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Love is indeed so very complex. I'm always relieved when I can help my characters find the kind of love they're looking for, even if it isn't quite what I had in mind. Does that make sense?

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