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.
or friction? Or both! Sparks
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.
-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.