I am posting this week's full part of the Words of Love - Romance Writing Series here today. All parts of the series are posted on my website: www.jewelsway.com and on the Night Writers' Blog: http://sevennightwriters.blogspot.co...f-love_26.html Be sure to check out the other parts of the Words of Love.
ACTION, GO ON AND HIT’M!
WHAM! BAM! SLAM—worked great for Batman and Robin, but what works for a romance novel. A first time or even seasoned authors can face the writing experience with a total lack of emotion. That’s right, action is motion and motion is emotion, and it takes all the senses to make it real. Emotion is feeling, it is the tug on your reader’s heart, the tear or laughter that comes from reading and knowing every aspect of your character’s emotions and thoughts.
“I-Will-Not-Think-Of-Him!” Mackenzie’s fist punched out each word against the pillows. Blowing up at the hair in front of her eyes, she crawled around the bed tugging at the tangled sheets. “Grown women don’t need fantasy lovers, Mac. Grow up!” Falling back into the pillows, she yanked the satin quilt up to her chin.
Action—that is what grabs a reader. Whether you start with physical, internal or external movement, you need to move your characters to hold that reader’s attention. Movement and activity can be exciting even if it is just crawling around on a bed. In Dream Lover’s opening paragraph Mackenzie is in motion on her own bed, not a fancy setting, but before the end of the paragraph the readers know why she is punching her pillows. Now that the reader’s curiosity is peaked you want to keep the interest going to the next paragraph…
Sleep, instant sleep, no thoughts, only dreamless sleep. Tossing one way and then the next, she moaned over effort it took to relax. She heard the tiny gears in the clock turning as another number flipped. “This is useless,” she exclaimed, irritation filled her voice.
Mackenzie reached for the phone, but hesitated before dialing Gloria’s number. “That’s right, Mac, call her and ruin all your progress today. You never should have asked her about the dreams.” After suffering Gloria’s prying questions all afternoon, Mackenzie figured it would take some major convincing to get her friend calmed down. One swift kick sent the covers off the bed. She slipped on the matching satin robe to her nightgown and let the soft material fold about her waist. Each determined step sent the satin swirling up and around her legs.
Do you feel her frustration, feel the movement of material brushing her legs? As an author you want to touch the readers senses, all of them. Every paragraph carries the reader with your character—pacing can be a marvelous aspect of action. You see, you want to take the reader into the story and in three paragraphs you have captured your reader and they are walking with your character as her gown swirls about her legs, they feel that satin, experience the movement of your character. It doesn’t have to be violent action, a soft flow that progresses the story is just as effective as hitting someone up side the head. Oh, and do we hit? Heck, yes, when the time is right.
Jerking open the bedroom door, she headed for the kitchen. Absently rubbing the robe’s sleeves, Mac never realized she held her breath until she flipped on the light above the stove. In a scolding whisper she said, “Tea, cinnamon rose—that should do the trick.” The flame shot up under the kettle before she adjusted the knob and moved knowingly about the kitchen, gathering a cup from the cupboard.
“Stop woman! Stop this endless calling!” The deep, decidedly male voice filled the silence in the apartment, paralyzing her into stunned stillness.
Startled by the kettle’s piercing whistle, Mac watched helplessly as the cup slip from her fingers and shatter in the sink. Spinning around she fumbled with the controls on the front of the stove until she killed the flame. Mac wrapped her shaking hands about her waist and took deep breaths, forcing herself to concentrate on the hissing stream of vapor.
Now we introduce outside action with her activity about the stove, the flame shooting up, adjusting the flame as she turns to gather a cup…by the fifth paragraph outside action moves up a peg with the introduction of surprise.
Surprise is one of the most effective uses of action in a story. The unexpected intrusion can start a string of activity that involves one or more of your characters. The voice in the dark creates its own reaction, paralyzed by fear-helpless-cup falls-hyperventilating, all of this from a voice out of nowhere. Shall we see where the voice comes from and how it affects Mackenzie.
“Let me go woman! Stop your witching ways. End this spell you hold me in!” Malice governed the familiar voice that had no right to sound so commanding, so alive.
“No-o-o...” The denial tore through her clenched teeth. She refused to turn toward the low, furious voice.
“I won’t see you!” Covering her eyes with her sweaty palms, she felt desperate, “This isn’t happening. You aren’t real! Go away!”
“Release me and I will gladly leave you!”
The threat in the man’s seething response nearly made her cry out. This can’t be real, he was only a dream. “I’m not dreaming now, am I?” She brought her hands away from her eyes and gripped the counter for support. Mac’s frantic whispers swirled through the rising steam, “He’s not here...this isn’t real. I’m not even in bed, so I can’t be sleeping!” To prove her own feeble belief, Mackenzie gingerly reached out to touch the kettle, quickly pulling her fingers back from the heat. “There, see, I am not sleeping. You can’t feel pain when you sleep.” Slowly releasing her breath she said, “He’s not real, Mac.”
“Mac? Tell him to show himself, for I am as real as you are witch. I will be glad to prove it to Mac if he be your protector! Turn around and face me, if you dare!”
As you read this section of Dream Lover take note of the verbs and adverbs that are used. All the senses are touched upon in these paragraphs, sight, touch, smell, they are all utilized in a mix of reaction by Mackenzie to the unknown. Not only are the physical senses brought into play, but the emotional side of her reaction shouts out to the readers. She is frantic, afraid, disbelieving and in denial of what her senses tell her is real. Not only is the reader feeling all of Mac’s emotion, but they are introduced to one very, volatile intruder. The questions spring to life not only in Mac’s mind by in the reader’s thoughts as well. Can it be real? Could it really be her…Dream Lover?
Every emotion and sense has been awakened for the readers. The action and motion that comes to life is what we call a “hook”, by page two the reader is hooked. Don’t think you can calm the action now. No way, you have just begun to use all these marvelous emotions and feelings. Now you want to pull out the big guns. That’s right, we just started, by the time you finish chapter one you will never be afraid of ACTION, EMOTION or FEELINGS internal or physical ever again. Remember, you want to write what you picture in your mind, what your imagination and your characters are showing you.
Now let’s show the readers what we see and what we have learned about POV. Changing the character Point Of View is an action in itself. We started to suggest a change to the reader by the last paragraph above (“Mac? Tell him to show himself, for I am as real as you are witch. I will be glad to prove it to Mac if he be your protector! Turn around and face me, if you dare!”). The readers need to be comfortable by your action because it is an action, it is motion, you are going to move from one character to a different character and change the perspective of the scene. The use of action comes in a variety of writing methods, one of the most effective and challenging is to change POV. See how the intruder enters the scene with his POV.
Aaron’s annoyance and anger rose in equal degrees as he asked himself again, what manner of woman was this? She was here, the one ruling his mind every waking moment...and the nights; never did he escape her alluring shadow. God, what did I do to deserve this punishment? Maybe it was not God’s work, for surely she was some kind of witch. He never believed in witches and hexes, but nothing else made sense for the strange happenings in his life.
Aaron failed to find any sign of her protector and kept his eyes fixed on the vision before him, knowing he would use physical force to stop her should she try to escape his presence. He wished she would turn to face him, allow him to confirm the image embedded in his mind. His haunting, blue-eyed enchantress could only be the beauty before him. He knew every delicate, enticing curve of that womanly body silhouetted against the soft, hugging gown where those golden curls ended. Soft as spun honey, the golden wisps floated on an invisible breeze, kissing her lovely... “Enticing sorceress!”
Clenching his hands until the knuckles turned white, he resisted the temptation to reach out and touch her. Aaron wanted, beyond reason, to hold the celestial vision that came to him so lovingly, seeking his warmth. Her enchanting curves brandished promises of passion born of innocence. He would wake, his body soaked with sweat...with his need to possess her. Every night the callings grew stronger, more ardent, filling his hours with pure, sweet torture; always she remained illusive, just beyond his grasp. So aggressive was her magic she began to come to him at all hours, haunting the daylight, casting her shadow about him until he thought he would go insane; demented, because he alone could see her haunting image. Aaron grew obsessed with the burning desire to experience and possess the libertine vision, regardless of the consequence. An act, he suspected he would burn in hell over, for only a witch could be doing this to him.
Aaron Masters was not a man to be trifled with. He fought her insistent pleas to come to her and the battle grew fierce. The internal battle of wills raged inside him. Tonight he vowed to destroy the hold she could wield over him. Dropping his barriers, he listened to her soft beguiling pleas, letting them grow stronger and stronger, until their intensity hauled him through the darkness.
She stood with him now, no longer an unreachable illusion, but a woman quivering from the same force that brought them together. As easy as reaching out and capturing her appeared, Aaron refused to let her control him. He wanted answers from her, but seeing her, being so close, almost proved to be more temptation than he could withstand.
“Woman, I said turn and face me. I have answered your summons. Now you will answer mine.”
Notice the special use of antiquated words in his voice: libertine, summons, witch, enchantress. Their use are also clues for the reader of what to expect, we want surprise, but we also want acceptance. These subliminal tactics help ease your audience into what is coming.
The voice of Aaron is nothing like Mackenzie, feel the masculine harshness in his emotion, the use of words, the threat he holds over her. Changing POV is also changing the action in the voice, male and female, they must always be different. Your reader has to feel the difference, feel the maleness in the emotional side of this POV. After reading this section of the scene the reader knows Aaron is not just angry, he is an emotional train wreck and he is ready to take on what ever comes at him to satisfy what’s been denied to him for so very long. The words shimmer under the force behind them.
All this action is flooding the reader’s senses as it takes them further into the story. The plot is being developed, we have even touched on the start of the personal conflict that is developing between Mackenzie and Aaron. Every step is movement and each paragraph combines action, emotion and the physical movements of the characters, which in turn moves the reader deeper into the story.
Just bringing in Aaron’s POV does not negate Mackenzie’s POV. Once the voice of each character is established you can switch back to one or the other, as long as you clue your readers that the switch is happening. Always be sure the reader has a clue of what is coming, what the action is leading to or creates. What is that old adage: For every action there is a reaction. Nothing is truer when you are writing a story. Shall we see how Aaron’s demands and threats have affected Mackenzie?
The air surrounding Mackenzie virtually danced with electricity. Taking a deep breath she reassured herself that this was only a dream…that is all this could be, a dream; her fantasy was now a nightmare. By facing her imaginary man he would vanish, he must. As she turned, Mac braced herself, hoping that the vision she conjured up would be there, terrified of what might be in its place.
Sucking in her breath, she faced the image.
“Oh stars…” he was everything she fantasized and her eyes feasted on her creation, all imaginary six-foot plus of it. Tempting waves of thick black hair were pulled back to the nape of his neck, tied there by a silk bow. Had she created a new fashion statement with her vision? The modest ponytail, if loose would join the locks about his strong face, framing it quite handsomely.
Captured and stunned by what her imagination assembled, her fear shimmered away, dissolving into the darkness surrounding them. She took her first step toward him, her vision. Mac decided she would enjoy this night, knowing that like her dreams he would fade in the morning light.
Smiling into his dark, formidable eyes she whispered, “This is my dream, I would like it down.” Reaching up, she loosened the bow, letting it slip from the rich thickness. Fascinated with her creation, she fanned the satin waves about his firm jaw and sculptured neck until the locks rested on his broad shoulders.
Mac’s eyes glowed over the new effect. “There, not as harsh.” Her gaze drank him in. “Very nice, gentler...”
She stepped in front of him to take in every compelling feature of his proud face, reinforcing the memory of her creation. “So handsome...manly. Yes, very much a man.” He was only an apparition and the unexpected freedom she felt surged through her, pushing forward her desire to experience more of him. “It’s amazing.”
The dream has now become a reality and Mackenzie’s fear has flipped to wonder and amazement, all very volatile reactions to what has transpired. One thing remains constant with her, she still believes him to be a dream or maybe the dream conveniently justifies her actions.
Action, emotion, reaction, feelings, they are essential tools in writing. Let your emotions rule, allow the words to flow and stop worrying if they fit, later you can fine tune your choices. Right now, the important thing is to surround your characters and readers with motion, hit all the senses as you bring them into Mackenzie’s mind. You will also notice that the action and excitement has slowed down a bit, a deliberate move to put the reader a bit off guard for what will eventually happen. Also, we are moving into a very erotic scene, one created by Mackenzie and played out on Aaron.
Aaron’s dark, hostile gaze snapped with hostility as it followed the strange actions of the resplendent beauty. She stood so close to him that he could smell her sexual sweetness. Allowing himself, Aaron inhaled, filling his senses with her lusty essence until he felt dizzy from the imprisoning enchantment. His every muscle cried out to take her, crush her seductive spice of feminine warmth to...and taste the luscious temptation lingering so near. Her actions beguiled and fascinated him. He would let her take her liberties a little further and then he would exert his own.
Mac stared into his eyes, eyes so black they could reflect the stars, held her, making her breath catch in a whisper. “For a dream, you certainly are intense.”
She raised her hand to his face, wanting to soften the hardness glaring down at her. The contrast between their colorings fascinated Mac. His skin was tan and aggressive against her ivory softness. In a whisper touch she stroked his cheek; she tipped her head to the side, surprised when her hand didn’t go through the image.
“Are dreams this solid?” she wondered aloud.
The soft action of a whisper touch enhances the slow softness that has now captured the readers. Love scenes should seep through the pores of the reader like a fine mist, covering and tingling their senses much as she touches her dream. The varying degrees or levels of action, can be played out in so many unique and thrilling ways during the story. Don’t be shy about using whatever technique your emotions dictate. When your character shows you her or his feelings, embrace them, roll them around in your mind, pull out all the adjectives and adverbs, find the key that rules that particular time frame and use it.
Her fingers touched the smooth, strong plane of his brow before slowly lowering her exploration. She caressed every firm, vital inch of his face, as if by touching, the dream would stay forever. She couldn’t resist the temptation to trace the full lines of his lips. The bottom lip was fuller and the knowledge sent thrilling promises through her sensitive fingertips. The shocking sensations made her pull away. Stepping back a little, she took in the full height and the width of his chest and shoulders. “So much bigger than my dream, I like it.”
Afraid that she would destroy the image, she held back from releasing the thin cord holding the deep vee of his billowy shirt together. Mac could see the rich exotic tan beneath the material. Spellbound, her heated gaze swept over his chest to the firm lines of his hips, down the powerful stance of muscled legs covered by tight fitting, black pants. The breath caught in her throat as she took in the huge bulge at the juncture of his legs. Mac felt naughty and daring over what she wanted to do. He was beautiful, breathtaking, everything she imagined and more. She stopped to study the soft, black leather boots that came up to hug his calves before flowing into wide cuffs at the knees. “Hmm, they are so sexy.”
The temptation proved too powerful and she let it pull her to him. Her palms went flat against his chest and began their slow, stimulating exploration. Beneath the fine linen she felt the harden nubs of his nibbles. Mac did the unthinkable and lowered her lips to one; her teeth teased the small rock solid nub. She felt the powerful muscles against her lips flex and grow tight, and the sensation shimmered through her...in sensual awareness releasing a wave of warm wet sexual heat. The excitement drove her on as her hands roamed the firm wall of his chest and she unmercifully teased his sensitive nipples through the thin material. The taste of salt became an aphrodisiac that lingered on her tongue as she slowly licked the taunt material over his breast…and Mac wanted more.
As a writer you have to mentally experience all that your characters are doing, you feel every one of the senses that they touch upon. Taste the salt, feel the contrast between fine linen and the hard nubs, the contrasting colors and texture of their skin, every minute detail is also what the readers will feel and experience. Not only will they feel it physically, but they too will want more…
For a sane second she wondered if he felt her touch and what he might do if he could respond, but then she wouldn’t be doing this if he were real. “Such a wonderfully, hot dream.”
The sexual electricity caused by her touch made her suck in her breath, with it came his scent, untamed and exotic. The dream was never this vital, this intense. In bold abandon Mac continued her discovery. Freedom ruled, she gloried in the feel of him,…her eyes flew up to his in shock over her own audacity and yet,...
NOTE: Dream Lover is an erotic romance, as such I will be deleting the more explicate parts in these examples. The link to read this in total is at the end of the article.
As you can see by holding on to the fact that he is a dream, Mackenzie is justifying her actions, no matter how outrageous. She physically settles on her knees and takes hold of the one thing she has wanted in the dream, regardless of the consequences. Of course, we haven’t heard any objection from Aaron about her actions. What she acts out does affect him and his reaction. You take hold of the action and change back to his POV, giving the reader both sides of the scene as well as both sides of the emotions. Don’t forget to keep your character voices separate and use words as a tool to accomplish the change. Look up words that would fit the era that Aaron came from (you would know this fact before the readers) to give your readers more hints about this other character. Every sentence moves the story and relationship another step.
Aaron reeled from the true touch of her hands on him. The barrier of clothes tortured him beyond thought, but Aaron feared any interference on his part would break the spell. And right now Aaron went beyond caring about mystical repercussions, he wanted all the vixen would give to him…damn them both!...
Both characters and your readers are now caught in the throes of passion that you have moved them to experience. The action itself is staying soft even though Aaron has now become an active player. Having both characters POV involved created an illusive circle about the two of them that pulls the reader into the mix. Emotions are beginning to gain momentum.
...The image of a large cat laying in wait for its next attack crossed her mind and with it came a ounce of regret that he too would go in hiding, become the dream once again. Mac wondered if she could ever capture this again, be with him once more.
Time could be an enemy, for Mac knew he needed to go. She wanted one last look. In an almost fevered state, her heated gaze raced over him, wanting to remember every masculine nuance standing before her, thankful for the unusual clarity of this dream, knowing she would never forget him. He would vanish, maybe forever.
Drawn by desire Mackenzie moved closer until her breast pressed in wanton abandon against him. “Just one kiss...please?” she whispered, hoping it possible.
Standing on tiptoes, Mackenzie gave into her obsession over his arresting lips. Barely touching the lips before her, she breathed deeply, taking in the essence surrounding him; a wild, heady aroma, filled with open sky and salt tainted ocean. The dark liquid pools of his eyes reflected her image, making her wish she could lose herself in their ardent depths, forever. She closed her own and moved closer, touching, seeking the dream… finding the man.
“I wish you were real.” All her heart’s longings came out in feathery softness against the impassioned lips now capturing her own. Dream, so be it. Mac melted against the surrounding heat. Feeling the pressure demanding her attention, she gave into the call as old as time. The pleasures flowing through her were so real, so powerful, they became her existence and she demanded more.
They are reacting together now, desire has been awakened and won’t be silenced. Each are kissing the other though it is in Mackenzie’s POV for this section of the scene. Her feelings are open, no longer hiding in a dream, her heart’s desire is spoken with a wish, all subtle actions filled with emotion. Emotions that your readers will hold to with anticipation to see what Aaron’s reaction will be. You and they can feel the excitement building, the pace is picking up, no longer is it soft and seductive. What is happening now is changing over to powerful emotions and actions, dictated by feelings that are now awake.
Unable to refuse her, nearly crazy with wanting her, Aaron folded the enchantress within the circle of his arms. Her touch was like the fires of hell, all sweet promises of ecstasy and he was already iron hard. There was no gentle taking as he brought her body against his own. Capturing her willing lips, he took her, deepening the kiss her haunting pleas begged him to master. His hands encircled her small waist, roaming freely over the delicately curved hips and firm buttocks. He wanted more and without thought Aaron molded her honey warmed spice over....
Aaron tried to fight the ravenous yearning rekindling inside him, needing more to treasure the feel of her and experience the desire she so willingly gave over to him. He wanted all of her. ...
He lifted her off the floor and gloried in victory when her legs wrapped about his hips. They were powerful allowing him the freedom to discover his enchantress. Aaron dismissed the gown, then tore his shirt off. “Ah, I want to feel you my lovely.”
Aaron went to his knees wanting more freedom to touch her beautiful body. Breast soft as kittens filled his palm and when his lips took possession of her nipples she cried out in ecstasy over his tongue’s tormenting play. He released his hold as she settled into his lap, he captured her head between his ample hands.
“You are a beautiful woman.”
He saw her lips part in a smile and it was all he needed to take her. As delicious as he expected Aaron devoured her mouth, then went back to the lush areolas, lavishing them into excited arousal so he could roll his palm over them and relish her rewarding torture. How she arched to his touch, her body was like a fine sculpture and Aaron loved touching the porcelain beauty.
Her freedom in touching him, working him with those small delicate hands and her lips, such pleasure should be cherished. When an enchanting moan escaped her exquisite lips, Aaron feared he would be branded by the blaze she ignited....She pressed into his touch her head fell back silently giving him the freedom to take her. In gentle intent he brought her to the threshold of pleasure, “do you want it?”
“Yes, damn you!”
“Tch, such a temper…here my lovely, here is a taste of what you called me to give to you.”...
All rational thought fled, burning was worth the ecstasy he discovered in his arms. He would never let her go, not now, even if it meant purgatory for all eternity. Aaron would not be denied! Her provocative cries barely penetrated the thunder of passion swirling inside him.
“Oh, God! Don’t let him vanish. He’s my dream. I want to keep him. Please? Forever!”
Lifting her in his arms, Aaron gathered her unresisting body to him. Instinct drove him back toward the barren darkness. “You are mine, vixen! I will never give you back to whatever master you claim. God or devil, they will neither claim you. You are mine...witch!”
Aaron’s POV is powerful and filled with the male senses that rule during sex. Yes, the reader does feel Mackenzie’s reaction to what Aaron may do to her through his feelings and emotions. The action is fever pitched and doesn’t slow down. The shock of her virginity is fast, but not missed by Aaron or the readers. Both have what they have wanted from the other and yet, neither is satisfied, it has only just begun for these two dream lovers.
To write such a climatic scene is not something that happens in an instant. It takes time and many rewrites to get it all to feel just right. Don’t be impatient with yourself, remember that you can always change things. The final chapter one of Dream Lover is the combination of two chapters and twice as many rewrites and even more edits. Writing action takes practice, developing the use of such a wide range of action, motion, emotion and using all the senses, takes patience and persistence.
There are a couple more pages to the end of the chapter. Dream Lover fit the scope of this part with perfect examples.
If you would like other examples of action and how to use it, nearly all my writing starts with dialogue and action of one of my main characters. Their movement is the story, their emotions and what you achieve by using their senses is what the readers will feel and come to love about your work.
Remember, start your story and chapters right in the midst of action, speak out and act out every movement and emotion. Let the readers feel it all and you will have a winner!
You can read the parts I left out and more samples at my publisher’s site:
Hint - If you are writing an historic novel, jot down any reference to dates or historic events on a piece of paper. This will give you areas to look up for historic accurancy. We may be writing romance but you want your readers to feel the total experience about the eras they love.
Jewel Adams © 2011