Where there’s smoke, there’ll surely be a fire

24 Jan

Ever tried to create a fire from sticks and leaves? You can rub and rub all day long, but unless you get enough friction going, you’re never going to have more than blisters to show for your efforts.

Sometimes that’s what writing romance feels like. Trying to find that elusive spark between two characters is damned difficult. You can have a kick-butt plot, great secondary characters, and heroes and heroines with phenomenal back story and snappy dialog, but still not find that visceral connection which makes for a riveting romance.

I used to think it was all about the conflict. If the characters have competing goals and those goals are extraordinarily important to each of them, there should be spark. Sometimes, however, all this makes for is an angry story.

When I was writing the first versions of my upcoming Loose ID release, No Apologies, I approached it as a menage between a screenwriter, his best friend/producer, and a wannabe writer named Callie. Each time I tried to put Greg (the screenwriter) and Callie in the same room, the story began to fall apart. They had GREAT sex; something, however, was missing.

When the friend/producer (Aaron) and Greg merely talked on the telephone, on the other hand, the story burned up the keyboard. I kept scratching my head over this until my critique partner said, “Why don’t you write Aaron and Greg’s back story and see what happens?” I did, and wow! Was I ever surprised by what resulted. Aaron and Greg caught the page on fire. I was off and running!

I still haven’t figured out what spark is or where to reliably find it. I’m about to continue working on an urban fantasy which wasn’t supposed to have much romance in it. Somehow, however, I managed to tap into the spark this time around when I wasn’t even looking for any. I have no idea how.

What creates spark on the page for you, as a reader or an author? Is there a fountain of spark you tap into? Can chemistry between characters be deliberately created? Is it experienced the same way by every reader? Or is it always as unpredictable and magical in fiction as in real life? If you have any answers, I sure could use them!

2 Responses to “Where there’s smoke, there’ll surely be a fire”

  1. Lauren Fraser January 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Sorry no words of wisdom to add but I can completely relate. Glad I’m not the only one this happens to. LOL

    • Tibby Armstrong January 26, 2011 at 12:34 am #

      Thank you, Lauren. It’s good to know I’m not alone!

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