I have a confession to make. I am not a die-hard romance reader. I mean I read romance, but I’d prefer to have a little romance with my action or adventure. So...what can I possibly have to offer about this month’s theme “romantic elements”?
I think I might have spoiled it for myself by reading too many romances where the dialogue was, shall we say, out of character. If you have a character who says “Delphinia, my love, plant your luscious lips on mine,” then that had better be something that I can believe the hero would say. If you have a silent, strong, hero who all of a sudden waxes poetic at just the right moment, I’m not going to believe it unless you have shown me how he's changed or he has a really good reason for acting/speaking out of character.
In the movie “Chasing Liberty”, I love the subplot that involves the two Secret Service agents, Alan Weiss and Cynthia Morales. Through dialogue the writers capture a relationship that develops into a believable romantic one. Following is some dialogue from the beginning of the movie where Weiss is hitting on Morales (again).
Weiss - You get jet lag, Morales?
Morales - No.
Weiss - Really? I get it awful.
Morales - I take herbs.
Weiss - Herbs?
Morales - Yep.
Weiss - Really? Why?
Morales - They help reset your clock.
Weiss - I'd like to reset your clock. I'm just saying.
The main plot of the movie is about the President’s daughter who thinks she has gotten away from her security detail while traveling in Europe. The agents are supposed to be tailing her and an undercover agent. A scene where they are looking for her in Venice brings this conversation. Picking up in the middle of a scene:
Weiss - Let's just say that women stopped beating down my door......about the same time the bangs stopped covering the receding hairline.
Morales - Stop overcompensating. You're a good-Iooking...You look fine. Some girls like a bald head.
Weiss - I'm not bald yet.
Morales - I'm just saying. You should embrace it. Maybe you could cut it really short. Some girls like that. They think it's sexy.
You can see by her responses that her attitude is changing. You can see the subtle change in their relationship. We find out later that he does cut his hair.
A little later on we have this bit of dialogue which occurs after he had been giving her the silent treatment for some earlier comments about his pickup lines. He’s trying to get her to enjoy Venice instead of just doggedly focusing on finding Anna.
Weiss - I'm not leaving this spot till you take a moment to appreciate this. You know, it's not enough just to be a beauty, Morales. You have to be able to appreciate beauty too.
Near the end they finally acknowledge the change in their relationship.
Weiss - Something about a college campus. Isn't there, Morales? You know?
Morales - What do you mean?
Weiss - I mean, you know, the falling leaves...the promise of youth, the smell of curricula. I'm thinking we probably gotta get new partners.
Morales - I'm thinking I'm okay with that.
Weiss - Yeah? That so?
Morales - Yeah.
Weiss - As long as your partner's an old fat guy.
Morales - I love old fat guys.
Now, this might not be your idea of romantic dialogue, but to me it’s a good example of how dialogue can reveal the romance while staying true to the character. Romantic dialogue doesn’t have to be flowery or have certain words or phrases. To me the romance in dialogue is that a character reveals himself to the other in some way. They let themselves become vulnerable by being open and letting their guard down. And that can even happen in an action/adventure/thriller with a little romance on the side. Whatever genre you write, let your characters reveal themselves to each other through dialogue and see if this takes the romance to a whole new level.
Elaine Clampitt is serving as Secretary/Treasurer for the new South Denver ACFW Chapter, Mile High Scribes. With three of her four adult children currently in college out of state, she recently added a new puppy to her "empty nest". She credits her Canadian blood and daughter's high school hockey career with her passion for ice hockey. Elaine is launching a new web site this week dedicated to profiling the inspiring stories of women in the world of ice hockey. Visit www.thewomenofhockey.com for articles with two on-ice Olympic officials and three members of the Team USA Olympic hockey team. In between interviewing these fascinating women, she is working on a series set in the world of professional ice hockey.