Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Flirt with Purpose

Hi Readers!

Don’t you just love our new look here on YA Stands?  I know I do!  I’m also extremely excited for our Twitter chat tonight at 9 p.m. EST, using hashtag #yastandschat (shameless plug).  You never know what crazy things writers will talk about, especially YA writers, so be sure to drop in and say hello!

As for my post today, I want to talk a little bit about flirting.  Here’s the official definition: to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions; play at love; coquet.  That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  But it is very true.  It’s also something 98% of us do without even thinking about, like a smile here, a hug there, laughing at a joke that really isn’t that funny.  So when it comes to writing these flirtatious moments it should be second nature, right?

Well, not so much, at least not for me.

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I’m a huge/hopeless romantic.  And while I have flirted plenty in my day, I’ve really had to pay attention to how my characters flirt, because they are not doing it intentionally, but I am.  Every glance, every touch, every interaction these characters share, has to have a purpose.  And no, the purpose cannot just be because you need them doing something while they’re talking.  It needs to be something that helps move the story forward.  It’s a writer’s tool, just like dialog.

Flirting must also be organic.  It must develop naturally.  You can’t go having the guy come up and grab the girl around the waist, swinging her in the air, if they’ve only just met.  But you could have him brush her hand as he passes her in the hall.  It should progress in a way that makes the reader want to know what the characters are going to do next.  Like whether the guy will finally kiss the girl, or will he dance with someone else to make her jealous (yes, boys are stupid and will do things like that, but then again, so will girls)?

I often feel like I’m in a hurry to get my characters to the climax of the story then have to go back and slow things down in order to pull the reader along more gradually.  In one of my stories, there was a whole chapter added later because I jumped from the boy and girl hardly knowing each other to a heated kiss.  The kissing scene was fun to write, but didn’t make sense in the sequence of events for the characters.

So, do your characters flirt naturally?

4 comments:

  1. "Every glance, every touch, every interaction these characters share, has to have a purpose. And no, the purpose cannot just be because you need them doing something while they’re talking. It needs to be something that helps move the story forward."

    From the editor side of me: Thank you for saying this. People don't realize how much those little actions slow things down. If a character crosses his legs, it should be to show something--he's relaxed, doesn't care about XXX, etc.

    From the writer side: I think one of the reasons I'm such a slow drafter is that I refuse to write useless movements.

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  2. I think my characters flirt naturally. I rather enjoy that aspect of the writing.

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  3. I'm grappling with this now in the second installment of my series. Writing a growing friendship came kind of naturally, but a romantic relationship, not as much. It's not an integral part of the story, but really, every word should be integral. I liked the post, thanks.

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  4. I'm with you in having to work at this. I just made a note on a chapter last night to build more gradually toward a first kiss. I tend to be a sparse drafter and have to go back to add these little details that add a rich layer to the story.

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