Today marks the 26th anniversary of my first date with Hubby. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, we had met unexpectedly at the family restaurant where I worked during the summer when I was 19. He had been stationed in the USMC and was home on leave.
Our first date happened the night before he went on a weeklong fishing trip with his dad and brothers. We spent our evening talking and getting to know each other face-to-face after communicating via snail mail for two months.
I did know one thing, though. By the end of our date, I was head over heels in love with him. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. We continued dating for 18 months before eloping in 1989.
If you’re a romance writer, think about the first dates you create for your hero and heroine.
- Are they unique? Sometimes it’s a challenge to come up with unique first dates. Think about your story’s setting. What makes it unique? How can you pair your characters together and pull in different storyworld elements to enhance the story? How about apple picking? A picnic in the park? Collecting seashells at the beach? Rock climbing or hiking? Cooking a meal together?
- Are they relatable? When writing first dates, you want your readers to relate to them in some way. You don’t want off-the-wall dates that will have your readers rolling their eyes or skimming pages.
- Do they move the story forward? Every scene in your novel needs to move the plot forward. Otherwise, your story risks becoming episodic—or stagnant scenes that do nothing to enhance the story.
- Do they show emotion? Let’s face it—we read and write romance because we want that happily ever after, right? Your dates need to enable the reader to feel along with the characters. Have you shared your characters’ emotions and reactions during their dates?
- Do they build tension? Adding conflict and tension keeps your reader turning the pages. Last night I watched a movie, and the heroine had a date with the hero, but she was asked to work late. She tried calling the hero, but he didn’t have service where he was. So when she arrived to meet him for their date, they had lost their dinner reservation and the kitchen was closed. They ended up eating pizza on the steps of the building they both lived in. So, think about how you can build the tension throughout the scene and throw up roadblocks. In real life, we want our dates to go well. I’m sure our characters would love that, too, but as their writers, we have the power to throw in obstacles for them to overcome.
When creating dates for your characters, take some time to think them through. Show the right emotions, add some humor, and conclude with the reader wanting to reread the scenes again and again because they, too, are disappointed the dates have come to an end.
Your Turn: What unique dates have you created for your characters? What obstacles have you put in their way?