The big adage in publishing these days is “show not tell.” I think this adage misses a basic point about why some of us read romance. I think it’s caused many readers to keep searching for books like the great ones they used to read. Eventually, they give up the search and stick to re-reading the classics. So in the long run, “show not tell” means “look not buy.” I think it’s cost the industry some devoted readers who have given up.
“Show not tell” means describe the characters about to kiss and describe the kiss itself. The reader should figure out how the characters felt about the kiss from the description of the scene and the action. Woe be unto writers who dare to pop the reader into the character’s head to experience the emotions of the hero and heroine!
Many of us read to take that mental journey with the characters. If we want to see a kiss and read meaning and emotion from visual cues, then we we’ll watch it on TV. I want to know why the pair kissed, why it mattered that they kissed and how they felt about it. I want to be inside the heads and hearts of the hero and the heroine. I want to take the mind trip with both of them.
Only in a book can you crawl inside the mind of a man who thinks love is a concept invented by women to conquer the male race. Only in a book can you crawl inside the emotions of a woman so giddy with love that she’ll face her darkest fear to stay in the arms of a lover. But, of course, it’s not just romance that gives tickets to ride the magic mind train. Books will take you inside the head of a madman holding a knife, a victim about to be slaughtered, a pathologist doing the autopsy, a detective solving the crime and a juror returning a guilty verdict.
The best books are magic carpets that take the reader on an adventure in thought and deed. I try to provide a little touch of that magic for my readers. So if you’re looking for a magic carpet ride, check out E-Mail Enticement, Brotherly Love, or my upcoming historical, A Faerie Fated Forever.
And keep the TV turned off. After all, it can only SHOW you the kiss.