Think about your favorite fictional character. In particular, your favorite fictional character of the opposite sex. Let’s use Twilight for example because who hasn’t chosen a side? So, picture Edward or, for the cooler people out there, Jacob. Think about his smile, his hair, his perfectly toned body. Is your heart pumping a little harder? Would you say that in some way (not in the logical or realistic way, of course, but in some way) you’re a little in love with him? It’s okay. You don’t have to admit it. Your smile says it all.
Stephenie Meyer did that on purpose and if you write, you probably do it too. It’s our job to make our readers fall in love with our characters but in order to do that, we have to fall in love with our characters first.
When I wrote my first novel, I had several characters to fall in love with–particularly the two love interests. To me, the good guy was the type of guy that every woman wants to fall in love with. Sweet, affectionate, thoughtful. But the bad boy was the epitome of the type of man women usually fall in love with. Sexy, confident, well-spoken…and rich, of course. Both of these men had such different characteristics yet I could connect to each of them in different ways.
I think it’s especially important to have some type of emotional or physical reaction to your characters when writing romance. I find it incredibly difficult to write a romantic scene if I’m not feeling it myself. When I wrote the romantic scene with the bad boy, my heart was pounding. When I wrote the scene with the good guy my fingers were actually shaking! All because I felt an attraction to these characters too–not just through the main character, but in myself.
There are a couple of ways I’ve found to help me better connect with my leading men. First, as I’ve advocated before, pick a face to put to the name. But don’t just pick any face, pick a face that you can react to. It could be an actor or someone you know or even a stranger (but I do recommend choosing someone with a picture or someone you have a very clear mental image of so you can keep going back to it). If your heart doesn’t race a little when you look at his smile or his eyes or, hell, his arms, he’s not the guy for you. Second, use someone you’re familiar with for at least the basis of his character. You don’t have to use all the same characteristics (and probably shouldn’t) but think of someone that shares the main feature you love about your character so you can think of your example man whenever you lose touch with your character. Again, it can be someone you know or just a character from a movie or book.
I’ve started to do this with the leading man for my new novel. I’m not quite there with him yet but I’m not surprised. Just like in real life, I have to spend some time with him before I feel like I really know him enough to open my heart to him. I have picked out his face, though, and I have to admit…I may like it a little too much. I’m looking forward to getting to know my leading man better and eventually, falling in love with him. Not only because I want to create a lovable character for my readers but also because that’s what makes me want to keep writing!
Do you find yourself falling in love with your characters? Do you do anything in particular to make sure that happens?