“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ― Maya Angelou
I feel like I’ve bene hearing a lot recently about fear and about courage–universe, are you trying to tell me something? I feel like this quote about courage could apply not just to romantic love, but love for yourself or your work, too. Here’s to being courageous, one more time.
Mary Kole has a great post today about love and relationships in YA novels. She mentions how it’s easy to make these relationships all about physical attraction. Obviously physical attraction needs to be part of it, but it should be grounded in an emotional connection as well. Teen readers understand what it feels like to find someone hot, but they also understand having inside jokes and bonding over the same band. These things should be present in a fictional YA romance, too.
She also has some great advice for writers working on a YA romance:
“Go back to every scene where your romantic leads interact. For every physical description, insert a thought about the present or future or a characterizing detail for the other character. Give us a bit of playful dialogue that shows us, rather than tells us, how the characters get along as people who are creating a bond. Don’t settle for attraction in the physical sense. Give us the moment when they fall in love–truly in love–on the page. We all know this instant, when our entire thinking shifts and things become magic. The impossible seems possible. Those stinky feet suddenly don’t matter.
Love and attraction are also about action (er, not that kind quite yet). We behave differently toward our beloveds than we do toward anyone else. Love makes us selfless, crazy, impulsive, brave, vulnerable. How do your character’s actions toward their crushes change as the relationship progresses? How do those actions change the characters? The relationship? Make sure that every plot point and action between your lovers resonates emotionally to either build or break down (the course of true love never did run smooth) your Romeo and Juliet as people. This is all part of building that common relationship history.”
Going to go through my manuscript with this in mind. I don’t think it’s totally focused on the physical, but it’s easy to reference those killer cheekbones and not all the other adorable things people do when they’re in love (or at least like).
A few years ago I read East of Eden and loved it. It was thrilling and engaging and touched on major emotional issues. So this letter from John Steinbeck to his son Thom about the nature of love warmed my heart. The whole letter is beautiful and touching, but here’s one part in particular I liked:
“There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”
Make sure to read the whole letter. I want to print it up and post it above my desk, it’s so lovely (the letter, not my desk). It’s from Steinbeck: a Life in Letters, which I am putting on my immediate to-read list. Usually I don’t delve into the private life of authors, but in this case I think I’ll make an exception.