Friday, July 15, 2016

So, How'd You Two Meet?

In any love story, great and even those not so great, the romance is set in motion by an inciting incident.

       Boy meets girl

We all have those stories. Whether it is something dramatic like "I started falling down the stairs, and he caught me. And never let go." Said in the right tone that one might induce some nausea.

Maybe your story was something simpler like "We met at work when he spilled burning hot coffee on my silk blouse. I thought he was a total idiot. But well, I fell in love with the big lug anyway." :)

In storyworld this is what we refer to as a "meet-cute."

And because we dream in a world of fiction, we get to create these moments and sprinkle them with some magic.

So, lets talk about how to make a "meet-cute" extraordinary!

-Write outside the box

Ever feeling like the story you are reading was cookie cut from dozens of others? I don't know about you but the idea of shocking the reader is often my goal when I am piecing a story together. No matter what genre you prefer, whether it be romance, historical, speculative or suspense, the last thing you want to be is predictable. 

Why would anyone want to read my story if they know not only how it ends, but how the characters get there? Boring.

We don't want to recycle ideas. We want to present something fresh, something unexpected. So when you are thinking about your character's first meeting on the page, make of list of all the "meet-cute's" you can remember. As our brains are often at capacity, this should not be an exhaustive list. This can be your point of reference. See what's been done, and do something different. Spice things up.

-Sparks or friction? Or both!

Ooo, this is the fun stuff! When those characters meet on the page there should be a different dynamic between the two than say, the heroine and her teenage brother, or the hero and the Barista at the coffee shop. (And let me just say that when your characters meet on paper they might already be otherwise acquainted, but the same principles apply.)

Whether you start things off with a spark... 

As in—Holy cow, her skin was about to melt off because he was seriously THAT hot. She could do nothing but gape at him, nearly incinerated into a brainless, wordless ditz with one smoldering glance.


With some friction. 

But then he opened his mouth, and it didn't matter one bit that he was tall, dark, and devastating when he said, "Listen up, Blondie. I don't care who sent you, you're interfering with my crime scene. If you don't remove yourself from the premises in five seconds, I'll charge you with obstruction of justice and haul you off to jail."

(Sorry, that was seat-of-my-pants so it might not make a whole lotta sense)

May I just point out that both spark and friction produce what? ... Heat.

It's all about the chemistry here. It doesn't have to be love at first sight. They might hate each other. But there is a very fine line between love and hate. Those who get under our skin the most are often the ones that wiggle their way into our hearts.

Crank up the tension here. Start off with a bang. Rile their emotions.

A sure-fire way to create a memorable "meet-cute."

-Establish some mystery

Intrigue will hook your reader fast and pull them along for the ride. Plan how you want to stir the pot here. Do you drop subtle hints at backstory through their thoughts or their actions? Use body language to expose their greatest fear, or their greatest dream? Splice in some double entendre into their dialogue that peaks the reader's interest but also the interacting character's.

And in doing this, go back to those first two points. Go for the unexpected. Make them aware of or agitated by each other. Ignite the spark and the conflict and draw the reader in from the get-go. You sure don't want them closing your book before it gets good. So start it strong.

Most importantly…
-Wet the reader’s appetite for more!

Get them curious about these characters. How the next interaction might play out. Keep them guessing. Make them crave the next time they are thrown together on the page. You can do it! Get creative!

Your turn: What is your favorite “meet-cute” you've written? Do you have a favorite from a book or movie? Or, what is your very own, real life “meet-cute” with your sweetheart? 

Amy Leigh Simpson writes Romantic Suspense that is heavy on the romance, unapologetically honest, laced with sass and humor, and full of the unfathomable Grace of God. She is the completely sleep deprived mama to two little mischief makers and would challenge anyone to a cutest family contest. Represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great post, Amy. I appreciate the suggestion to shock the reader. I need some practice in this. ;)

There are fun meet-cutes that came to mind--and they're all confrontational. I think one of the fun ones is from Leap Year. What's your favorite meet-cute?

Unknown said...

I was working in LA for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and unfortunately, my husband's father passed away from this terrible disease, so he was volunteering out in St. Louis for the organization. Each year, these volunteers from all over the country come together for a Leadership Training weekend. The second day of the conference, I crossed paths with this handsome man (who I may or may not have already noticed) in the foyer and we started talking sports. I had home opener tickets for my team, the Giants, who happened to be playing his team, the Cardinals. When the conference was over and we were to fly back to our respective cities, he asked if he could meet me at my terminal to say goodbye. He sent me off with a kiss, followed by flowers the next day, followed by a trip to LA two weeks later, where we drove up to San Francisco to see that very game we had talked about in the foyer. Eight months later, we were engaged.

Pepper said...

Oh Ames, you have the spark and friction DOWN, girlie! Whew!
And you throw in a whole lot of charm too.

What about humor? That can add some fun to a cute-meet too! You do that REALLY well with your current hero :-) Swoon-worthy!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Ooh...Love this, Amy!!

You know who I think has a great "meet-cute", Ms. Krista Phillips. Love the friction she created, with enough sparks that I couldn't wait for the couple to meet up again.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Jeanne, we can all work on that, for sure!! Hmm... my favorite meet-cute?

I love how I met my hubby. We went to college together... though I'd been warned to avoid the guys on the baseball team as they had pretty bad reputations and I was nursing a wounded and bitter heart. I ended up being pared up with this jock who I was certain was stoned half the time as he wasn't very attentive in class and had TROUBLE written all over him.

The day I was going to meet him after class and talk to him for the first time he actually joined a debate between me and an awful teacher of another class we shared. He jumped in with some scripture and totally floored me! I think he rendered me (ME!) wordless for the remainder of class as he stepped in to fight my battle and skewer the arrogant teacher with the word (a very sharp sword! and one heck of a good attention grabber).

Then, when I stated tutoring him I realized there was a brain behind the ruggedly handsome face and killer smile. Just goes to show you, first impressions can be pretty off base ;)

Oh, yeah... and then he ignored me for weeks! Told me later it was all part of his elaborate plan to trap and keep me! :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Oh, Katie... that's quite a story!!! Talk about a meet-cute sprinkled with some destiny! So glad you came by to share! *Sighs* Love and baseball... that's the way it should be ;)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Pepper--HUMOR! Definitely!!! Thanks love! You write a pretty mean "meet-cute" too! Thinking about Reese in those overalls! Ahh, country boys!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Julia, Krista's sure was awesome wasn't it. Oh, to maim an arrogant man with some hair-cutting shears. :) Awesome!

Lisa Jordan said...

Love the equation spark + friction = HEAT! Great way to remember to make those meet-cutes memorable for the reader!

I just finished reading Krista's Sandwich, so I totally agree that her meet-cute was filled with spark, friction and HEAT!

Great post, Amy!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Oh, shoot... Jeanne, the part that makes it cuter was that I was to be his math tutor. :)

:) thanks Lisa! I've got yours in my TBR pile. I really need to bump it to the top! Need more hours in the day so I can actually read! If I recall, you had a pretty cute story with your hubby....?

Angie Dicken said...

This is great, Amy. You are making me want to write a meet-cute right now!
I love when the characters start off with friction. That is how the meet-cute occurred in my last novel. It makes it so much more fun to work uphill and really kindle that fire. ;) HA!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Angie, I couldn't agree more!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Amy, I love your real-life meet-cute! How fun is that?!

Mary Vee Writer said...

So love this post. thanks, Amy

Joanne Sher said...

LOVE this post - and absolutely have to tell my own personal "meet cute."

First of all, I used to date his brother. They lived in Michigan - I in California. His brother JOHN was traveling around California doing physics magic shows for elementary schools, and I met him through a teacher. Anyhow, we dated for a while, but he went back to Michigan and I stayed in CA.

Well, apparently, JOHN told me all about his brother MARC when he was here. About a year later, Marc got a job transfer out to California, and John drove down with him and started doing his physics magic shows again. John called me and told me he was in town with his brother, and invited me to join them at Disneyland. But first, we met in the hotel they were staying in.

So - the short answer is - I met my husband at a Motel 6 LOL.

Anyhow, John told Marc that I knew all about him (I remembered NONE of what John supposedly told me about him, by the way), so he didn't feel like he could put on any airs. We had fun at Disney.

He proposed about five months later. We got married a year after he proposed - to the day - and John was the best man at our wedding.

How's that for a story, eh?

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Oh Joanne, I love it!!!!

Robin E. Mason said...

and BAM! there it is! Amy, my love, you have just "sparked" the premise for my next series!!!!! =D

Anonymous said...

I love your posts, Amy. This is SO great--and thank you too for the caveat of "Same principles apply if technically they've already met before the story started." << indirect quote. LOL

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Ahh Robin! That's amazing! Yay!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Yes! So glad it resonated! Hope it inspired some spark! :)