It Was Love at First Sight…

July 15, 2011

Or maybe second…

It happens in the movies and in books…and often to teenagers, but does love at first sight really happen? I hear people say that it takes time for love to develop, that the instant attraction is just infatuation.

What does this have to do with writing? Saturday’s Orange County Chapter RWA meeting was a recap of the events and workshops of the Romance Writers of America National Convention last month. I wasn’t lucky enough to attend, but many of the writers in our chapter did, and one of the discussions at our meeting Saturday was of Michael Hauge’s presentation on Six Stage Plot Structure.

The big question was: “Why are your two characters together?” Why are the hero and heroine together?

The answer: They see each other’s essence.

I love this answer, and as I’ve worked on rewrites of my manuscript this week, I’ve had this on my mind. At what point do the hero and heroine “see” each other’s essence?

In my real life it happened on our first date, our second meeting. Our story is much like a romance novel. The day we met I wanted nothing to do with him. He was rough, a little out of control and not at all what I was looking for in a man. So why did I give him my phone number? Then on our first date there was magic, and somehow I knew we were meant to be together. Two weeks after we met, he told me he was going to marry me. Nearly twenty-four years later we are still together and still very much in love.

In my manuscript it happens on the first page. Although of course the heroine denies it, the hero knows immediately—although there are times in the story when he also has doubts.

I didn’t get to attend the convention (although I will be there next year when it’s in Anaheim) so I didn’t get to here Hauge’s presentation. I don’t know exactly how he defined “essence.” My definition of a person’s essence would be the core of who the individual really is. I might go as far as saying that their soul is their essence. Hmm…maybe that’s why we look for our “soul mate.”

That could explain why people who are seemingly opposites attract or people who on the surface should be attracted to each other aren’t. When we see a person’s soul or their essence we see something much deeper than whether they like sports or sewing, whether they work in a trade or wear a suit and tie, whether they love classic rock or hip hop. Those things often don’t matter when you can see beyond to their very essence and two souls connect.

This week as I’ve worked on my manuscript I’ve had several questions on my mind. When do my hero and heroine connect? Can the reader see each character’s essence? Have I developed each character’s essence enough to show their motivation and intent?

Of course this has made me think about my real life romance. So many people thought Paul and I didn’t have a chance. He’s spontaneous, a little rough around the edges, loves Levi’s, t-shirts and fast cars. I am a planner, more conservative, somewhat sensitive, love dresses, shoes and all things girly, kind of on the nervous side (i.e. fast cars…not my favorite). Yet, underneath his rough, out-of-control exterior and my need for order and stability we connect. I believe we see each other’s essence.

So maybe love at first sight—or second—isn’t just for movies and books. Maybe it’s part of real life and that’s why we love it in a good story. Don’t we all want to meet someone and recognize our soul mate? Of course, we still need plenty of conflict to make a good story and eventually get to…

And they lived happily ever after.

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