Monday, April 24

The icing or the cake?

Writing the romantic moments in a book is like putting the icing on the cake. We write about all the times he says the right thing, she says what she wants without stammering, their touches are electrified with passion, and love arcs between them as they share gazes across their steaming cups of half-caff. As the story progresses, we relate how they rescue each other from things real and imagined, love each other's families, and never spill their wine down the front of their shirts while they stare into each other's eyes in flickering candlelight.

When my writing world is good, I write the romantic moments last, after I've put together the connectors. What got them from here to there. The context. The filler.

So I was thinking about romantic moments. And the filler that went with them.

My first kiss was on a fan bus. I was 14. He was a nice guy and it's a nice memory. The filler is that in those days, high school basketball games were so much fun and fan buses were full and noisy. There wasn't much socialness in my life at that time, nor much happiness. So the kiss on the bus was romantic. The context of its occurrence was life-giving.

The most romantic thing Duane's ever said to me was, "It's the best day off I ever had." What
surrounded that moment, though, was a breast biopsy that ended with my gynecologist waking me with the words, "It's benign. It's benign." Duane said the romantic words to me as we drove home from the hospital. The rest of the filler was dark days of dread and fear and remembering my mother's illness and passing. It was keeping the test secret from our kids and bargain-praying, "If you let me get them raised, I'll never ask for anything again." (I haven't exactly stuck to my side of that bargain, but I'm pretty careful what I pray for.)

Although I don't like to get political here, my son-in-law said he couldn't vote for the current president because he loved his wife too much to do so; he could not support someone who disrespected women. Not only did he win points with a mother-in-law who loves him anyway, it was a romantic moment in the wrought surroundings of a contentious election.

One of the most romantic moments I've ever read was where a man went to see his wife in the Alzheimer's unit of a nursing home every single day. When someone reminded him of what he already knew, that she didn't know him, and asked why he continued to come every day, he said, "But I still know her." That was the romantic moment. The filler was the life together that led to that point.

Filler is undoubtedly the wrong word. So is context. The right word--for me, at least--is story. It's the fun part. The icing is good and sweet and a reward of sorts. I like writing that icing, but it's the cake that keeps me coming back as both a reader and a writer. The story.

What about you? If you're a writer, what's your favorite part to write? If you're a reader, tell us the parts you like best.

Have a great week.

Liz

12 comments:

  1. Great post, Liz! I think I'm still too new to writing, as it is all fun to write.

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    1. It is all fun, isn't it--well, most of it. I hope you always feel that way!

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  2. I love all of it - the crying over the black moment, the first blush of attraction, when they realize they *love* and that that might be a bad thing. I think the endings, though, are my favorites...because everyone is happy, and as the song goes, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

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    1. Beginnings & endings...I love them both. Working on loving the middle...

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  3. I love the story about the man and his Alzheimer's patient wife...that's beautiful. As a writer, I love writing dialogue--conversations are always in my head. I collect them the way other people collect stamps or glassware. I'm an unabashed eavesdropper and have been known to whip out my phone in airports to make notes on something I've heard. Great post, Liz!

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  4. Terrific post,Liz. I think your reference to a cake is very appropriate. A cake with too much "icing" is overwhelming, and without enough is a bit bland. It's that perfect touch of icing on a delicious cake foundation that makes you want to devour the whole thing...er, story!

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  5. I love my beginnings--hence the several dozen ten-percent manuscripts in my files--and I love the discovery as if go.

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    1. I have some of those, too, Margie, and still love them when I happen on them--have you noticed we never throw them away?

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  6. Like Margie, I love writing the beginnings of my romance novels. It's always so exciting to begin a new story. And then my next favorite part is writing the ending. I love tying up all the threads of the story and I love giving my hero and heroine their happily ever after. Very satisfying. Thanks for this lovely post, Liz.

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    1. Thank you, Jana! I admit to having trouble with endings anymore--it's hard to get it to the "..ahh.." point.

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