Monday, February 27, 2012

Lessons in Storytelling—I need you!

Last week I reread Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah Eden for book club. If you love regency romances this book is AWESOME. I mean curl your toes great!

As I read this book a principle I learned (from Sarah Eden in fact, at a conference last year) really hit home for me. And if you write romance or even romantic sub-plots, this is the post for you.

Okay, here is Sarah’s little gem—Your characters must fulfill a need in each other. The deeper the need the deeper the connection!

You’re so hot I need to make out with you is NOT what I am talking about. I need you to jump all over me is also NOT what I’m talking about. Not to be crude, but you could get that anywhere.

No, what I’m talking about is a very specific need that only this specific person can meet. Need some ideas? I’ve been thinking about this for a while so I’ve got a list :) This list is not gender specific, because as much as men and women are different I think we have very similar needs.

The need for:
  • Kindness
  • Strength
  • Protection
  • Stability
  • Unconditional love
  • Freedom
  • Security
  • Someone to push you out of your comfort zone
  • Lightheartedness
  • Optimism
  • Realism
  • Seriousness
  • Financial Security
  • To be someone’s first choice
  • Feeling wanted
  • Feeling useful
  • I could go on and on and on… 

One interesting thing I noticed in Sarah Eden’s book was that the two main characters fulfilled more than one need in each other. They both fulfilled a physical need and an emotional need.

Have you read stories where the romance felt flat? I’m convinced this is the problem (that and not knowing how the characters feel). Do you want to ratchet up the romance? I guarantee this will do it every time. I cannot think of a great love story where this is not the case.

But you have to make sure you your readers aware of these needs. Show it through situations. Show it through dialogue. Show it through internalization. But make sure we know what they need!

I promise it’s like magic! Heart speeding, hand trembling—MAGIC!


And if your interested I'm reviewing Night Sky by Jolene Perry on Afterglow Book Reviews today :)


Kyra Lennon said...

Great post! These are words I know to be true, and I agree that "I must have you right now" is not enough of a connection to make people turn every page of a book.

Meredith said...

I love this! It's so true--that kind of romance is so much more thrilling. I care much more about the characters when they need something only the other person provides.

Cassie Mae said...

I love a good post on romance. There absolutely needs to be more than just a physical attraction. :)

Sarah McCabe said...

You know, I think that advice has an even wider application than romance. I can see applying that logic to ANY character in ANY story for deciding whether or not the character is important. I've always disliked the criteria of having to be essential to the plot of a story. I like the idea of making sure each character fulfills some need in another character.

Emily R. King said...

I have this book on my TBR list. Now I'm really excited to read it. Great advice, Angie!

Sara said...

Oh that's a great bit of advice.

Thanks Angela and Sarah! I'll add that book to my nook(yay it rhymes!)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Hear! Hear! This is an awesome post. I get so irritated by books where the only reason the girl is into the guy is because he's hot. He treats her like crap, but that's okay. Because he's hot. Ugh! NO!

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Great advice. I don't really write romance, but there is a couple, er, um, coupling, in my book. (There's almost always some sort of romance in any story, right?) I know what their needs are, but I think I will go back and re-read my WiP to make sure it's clear to someone else reading it. Thanks!

prerna pickett said...

that's awesome advice to share, and makes total sense.

Johanna Garth said...

Such a good observation. When they don't do this the characters end up feeling empty.

Leigh Covington said...

Love this! And so true. I like the ones you've mentioned and I also love the idea of fulfilling more than one need. That makes sense, and I can see how it would be more powerful. Great tips Ang! Thank you!

Brittany said...

Great advice via Sarah, Angie! I took that class too and had forgotten she said that, but that gives me something to think about while I'm revising. Thanks!

elizabeth seckman said...

Excellent post. I will make note of it and apply when dreaming up new romances.

Jessie Humphries said...

This is a great reminder. I need to do a gut check on this one!

4rt of love said...

Keep up the good work!nice post.

Jolene Perry said...

I think Sara Eden's class at Storymakers last year was my fav.

And I LOVE keeping that "need" factor in mind. LOVE. I've only read Kiss of s Stranger by her, but am looking forward to reading the others :-D

Tara Tyler said...

great advice! a need, no a must have or i will die now that i know what i've been missing in my life, is pertinent to a couple falling in love and obstacles increase that need =)

JoLynne Lyon said...

My daughter absolutely loved that book. I like your advice.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I can't believe I missed this post yesterday! :P Great advice. I totally agree about romance feeling flat at times. Especially when all the main character can think about is how hot the love interest is. And Sara Eden's class at Storymakers was AWESOME last year. I loved it.

Jackie said...

Thanks so much for this wonderful post!

Jayrod Garrett said...

Oooh I hadn't really considered this idea in my writing of love stories in my fiction. That's really awesome. And I like it best because in real life that is the way it works too. Thanks for such an awesome post. It really has helped me out.

Melissa Sarno said...

This is a fantastic tip, Angie. It's something I'm going to more about as I a write. I often get stuck in desire mode (not physical desire, emotional) and I 'need' to break out of it ;)

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