Heaving bosoms! Throbbing tumescences (tumesci?)! Sensitive nubs!
Okay, that stuff is fun. But not the sum and total of passion.
PASSION: n. A strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept
PASSIONATE: adj. capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling
For characters–for people– to come alive, they must have passion.
I’m passionate about our environment. Respecting it, living in it, knowing it. I want to know the birds at a glance, the wildflowers by family and name, the formation of the earth beneath me. I’m passionate about my animals. I want that connection of knowing them inside and out, of training to a point of fun and subtle communication–and of being able to discern and fill their needs at a glance.
*an ironic pause in the typing while I run out to the barn in single digits because it’s time for bedtime hay*
And, as it happens, I’m passionate about writing. I want to feel as I write my stories, and I want readers to feel as they experience them.
Layers of intensity and feeling.
For characters to be real to any of us–in the reading or the writing–they need those same layers.
In my paranormal romance series, Lisa McGarrity (Garrie to everyone but the IRS) has a passion for reckoning; she knows responsibility comes with her unique gift of manipulating ethereal breezes. She has a passion for cleaning up her world–of ethereal creatures from the dark side, and now–somewhat to her surprise–of entities she considers demons, although Trevarr might call them something else.
She has a passion for seeing that her friends are well in their lives; she takes responsibility for them.
And yes, she has a passion for Trevarr – a fiercely driven demon hunter from a different dimension.
Trevarr (not even known to the IRS) has a passion for protecting his people. He lives a hard and gritty life and he lives it at full bore, and aside from the aforementioned need to protect those who took him in as a young outcast, he doesn’t much admit to emotions at all.
This would be why it surprises him so very much when he turns out to have them. And that, too, is a layer with which to work.
Without these passions–without an ability to experience life deeply on their own terms, for their own reasons, the characters not only don’t come alive, they don’t have the foundation to experience the depth of emotion we want to see between them. Without the layering, the relationships–no matter what their bodies might be doing–are unfulfilling.
Without the passions, we kinda don’t care about the bosoms, tumesci, and nubs.
No, really–we don’t! At least, not if we’re the passionate ones, too–about our reading, about our writing…about what’s important to us in both fiction and life. Excellent plots nonetheless fall short; sparkling dialogue just sits there on the page.
So–as reader, as writer…as a person: go ye forth and grab the passion…right out there in public! After you do, the rest of it will come along, too.
(first published in The Knight Agency newsletter in February!)
Yes, yes, and yes. Without that passion one is not truly alive. When you have that passion there is no separation between art and life, your life is your art and your art is your life.
Simulacrum seems to be a good word to describe art and life without passion, the form looks like the real thing, but the substance is not there. All the hormone driven scenes no matter how well crafted go no where without the underlying passion.
In the last few years I have become much more picky about what I read. In days gone by I would stick with anything and read from cover to cover, now if the passion is lacking no matter what the genre I generally don’t read past the first chapter. When the writer tells a good story passionately I am hooked from the first page till the last(and if it is really well done way beyond the last page)
I did wood sculpture for a number of years, all my work was well crafted, but there were and are better technicians out there. What sold my work was the evidence of passion within the work and that I was passionate about it.
Among the things that may happen on one of the really good ones is that I smile often, even laugh out loud or find the page growing blurry with tears. You are one of the writers who have given all of the above at different times.(I should add that that is a somewhat elite group of writers)
Awww! What a marvelous thing to say! And I’m so glad you grok what I was trying to say. Amidst all the heaving parts, that is.