Tenderizing moments

Tenderizing moments. It’s not as easy as people think. I know if I’m not careful it can fall flat or cause serious eye rolling. Over the top smoochy rose petal laden sappy drippy drivel can quickly turn a good story into a giant cheese ball of corny.  I’m not talking about a romantic encounter or a well planned romantic rendezvous, I’m talking about a small moment of tenderness that shows the reader the extent of the love two people feel.  Show not tell. That is most important. Its super easy to say; “She felt warm and loved.” Or “her heart beat faster at the sight of him.” or even “Her heart swelled with love.” I prefer not to use the word love or any of it’s synonyms, I’d rather show it. Whether it’s romance or the love of friendship, family or siblings. A sweet moment should be simple and unique to the couple in it.

Adding flowery verses and overly proper dialogue can water-down the sentiment, because the reader is too busy trying to sort through the excess. Descriptions should match the emotions without too much clutter.

Tony turned the television off and looked at Anne’s peaceful face. Her lashes flickered in her sleep.  He reached over and brushed his thumb over her cheek. Her eyes fluttered and she opened them slowly, a soft smile curling her lips.
“I fell asleep.” She near whispered.
He kissed her forehead. “I have to go.” His warm voice fell over her like the fuzzy blanket she held close. 
“I wish you could stay.” She blinked slowly at him. 
A wish he himself had. Anne was warmth and comfort, he was about to head out to the opposite of that. “Would that I could Anne.” He brushed his lips over hers and pressed gently. Her warm exhale the invitation to continue. She had a generous kindness that he suspected stemmed from someone or someones being truly unkind to her in the past. Her delicate lips opened to his and he lost a moment in her welcome. He smiled as she opened her eyes again. 
“Goodnight. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow.” She nodded as he went to put his jacket and shoes on. 

Valery picked at the rim of her paper coffee cup. The crease in her brow matched the pout of her lips. 
“Hey you.” Anne sat beside her friend at the booth. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m worried about Sash.” Valery nudged the half empty cup away.
Anne nodded. “Yeah it can’t be coincidence she disappears and that Crowen creep makes headlines.”
Valery leaned her head on Anne’s shoulder. “The police finally said she’s in protective custody or whatever they called it and she’s safe.”
Anne put her arm around Valery as she sighed. “I doubt they realize the folly of their ways by saying protective custody just makes us worry more.”
“Right?” Valery sat up. “Saying it means she’s in definite danger.”
Anne closed her eyes a moment. “And we can’t do a thing to help her.”
Valery put her hands over Anne’s. “No we can’t.”

The warm and fuzzies, a moment of love and understanding. I try not to dwell on them or make them too long simply to preserve the believability. Moments like these are best read aloud to ensure they are real and touching.

My advice about writing tender moments.
Keep it simple and avoid filter words that tell the moment instead of showing. Strong and passionate emotions should be felt by the reader not understood.

-Sheryl

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