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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What happened yesterday?

There are times when I’m writing a scene and it becomes tedious. The moments are either repetitive or drawn out and might lose the reader. However, the story part needs to be represented so what do I do? Summarize. I try to stay outside my characters heads so this can become tricky, as it is easier to write a summarized day or whatever without jumping into introspective writing. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that POV, It’s just not what I’m going for.  I had a long chapter of events that occurred after the bad date and run in with Cal the following morning. However, it started to become filler drama. The over written paragraphs were irksome and needed to change. They were not quite enough to move the story forward in an interesting way and too much mediocrity to pass off as entertaining. So I’ll give a summary chapter a try and see how I feel about it. Ready? Set? Go.

Sasha jolted awake as her body hit the floor beside her bed. Scrambling to her feet, she examined her elbow.
“Weird.”
Falling out of bed was odd enough, but the bruise on her elbow from giving Amber the elbow drop from the top rope was a little funny. She didn’t even watch wrestling but the dream had a sweet satisfactory after-glow to it.

She turned on the hot water, running her hand in the shower spray until it was warm enough to step in. Holding her face under the sharp water the day before was slowly coming back. Scott sulked in his office all morning. Amber had snickered too loudly when Sasha screamed after finding a live mouse in her desk drawer. It turned out to be a shrew. There was no doubt in Sasha’s mind who put that there. Heads were down and hushed tones seemed to emanate from every corner of the office all morning.
“How am I the bad guy all of a sudden?” Sasha let her tears fall with the water as she washed her hair. “I’ve given them everything and I’m always nice to everyone.” The anger didn’t wash away with the soap as she slammed the conditioner bottle down.
Valery did her best to buffer and keep Scott and Amber busy for Sasha’s sake. Even after Sasha told her she shouldn’t have to.
“I need a vacation.” She muttered, shut the water off and dried off rubbing harder than normal. “Or a new job.” That vocalization brought fresh tears to her eyes. “Jerks. I love the job. I’m really good at it.” She wiped her eyes with the damp towel before they fell and then hung it on the towel rack. “Maybe too good.”

She opened her armoire. The thing she loved about this house was the abundance of details. Someone put a lot of time and effort into making it feel old and antique. Carved banisters with little ivy and flowers, real hardwood floors with contrasting wood inlays. The lack of storage wasn’t an issue. The previous owner left the cabinets, buffets and armoires that matched the mouldings.

When Scott had begged via email to go for lunch to talk, she gave in, if only to curb some of the tension in the office. Oddly enough, lunch was the nicest part of the day. He had apologized and asked to try again. When she said no, he pleaded if only to save their friendship. She managed to stifle her laugh then but at that thought laughed aloud while buttoning her blouse.
“Pft. Friendship.”
Still, she acquiesced and agreed to go out on a non-date to see if they can mend their so-called friendship. His motives were easy to see. What Sasha didn’t understand was why. He didn’t seem to genuinely like her as a person.
“I’m just the stupid shrew, the conquest.” She looked at her vanity mirror reaching for her brush. “I’m not ugly.” She tilted her face back and forth. “Just broken.” With a heavy sigh, she raised the brush stopping at a loud knock sound from downstairs. Someone was at the door banging again. Quickly she glanced at the alarm clock. “Who? It’s so early.” Scrunching her face, brush in hand she hurried down the stairs.

 Huh. A very long chapter summarized. With the characters behaviors and personalities already established, I didn’t need to spend another drawn out chapter of shenanigans. Amber is a childish bully who doesn’t seem to think her juvenile actions will have consequences. Valery is struggling with keeping the peace, Scott is up to no good and trying to lure Sasha back in and Sasha is fully awake and finally seeing what has always been there.

This was a fantastic way to cut back on word count and stop a somewhat repetitive and potentially tedious chapter from souring the reader’s experience. I think I’ll save that space for some real drama, the kind that will progress the story in a more exciting way.

My advice about summarizing.
I wouldn’t personally do this too often, but when I was stuck on that chapter and it felt as if it were dragging its feet like an unhappy toddler at the grocery store, I knew I had to do something about it.  If word count is an issue or tediousness, then I recommend giving it a try.

-Sheryl

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