So! If you follow me on Twitter you know I started writing a new novel…
I’m attempting to do my own personal NaNoWriMo. No possible way can I write the first draft of a novel in a month, but I’m attempting to write it in three, and thus be done by the new year. I’ve never managed to finish a first draft in less than six months before, so we’ll see how this goes.
One scene I’m currently having trouble with: the meet-cute.
This is a film term, I’m pretty sure. It refers to the scene when the protagonist meets his or her potential love interest. I’m attempting to avoid cliché while also making it… well, cute.
I thought I’d turn to a best-selling YA writer for help. There are no particularly distinguishing details about the book so this mostly avoids spoilers (plus, it happens pretty early on in the novel).
Here, her meet-cute:
I have to stand on solid ground again. I see a few hands stretching out to me at the edge of the net, so I grab the first one I can reach and pull myself across. I roll off, and I would have fallen face-first onto a wood floor if he had not caught me.
“He” is the young man attached to the hand I grabbed. He has a spare upper lip and a full lower lip. His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color.
His hands grip my arms, but he releases me a moment after I stand upright again.
“Thank you,” I say.
We stand on a platform ten feet above the ground. Around us is an open cavern.
“Can’t believe it,” a voice says from behind him. It belongs to a dark-haired girl with three silver rings through her right eyebrow. She smirks at me. “A Stiff, the first to jump? Unheard of.”
“There’s a reason why she left them, Lauren,” he says. His voice is deep, and it rumbles. “What’s your name?”
So what works here?
Visual Description There’s just enough of it, and not too much. The writer doesn’t go on and on about his eyes, his voice–just gives us this really great image of “dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color.” If she’d proceeded to describe his eyes further, it could have gotten excessive and moved into the land of cliché.
Tactile Description There’s touching, but it’s not prolonged or cheesy. You don’t always need touching in your meet-cute, but it does certainly help with the sexual tension portion of things.
Action There are other things going on in the scene besides the protagonist meeting this boy. I prefer that to a scene that’s just, “Hi, nice to meet you.”
Length This goes along with the “action” part, but this scene is pretty brief. They meet, and then more things happen. I don’t think time should stop when your protagonist meets his or her love interest–that again borders on the cliché.
Of course, this all depends on your genre. I write YA (contemporary, mystery, and now I’m attempting my first fantasy!) and the example I gave is from a dystopian YA, but I imagine romance novels, for example, could have slightly different rules. Maybe time does stop when the love interests meet each other and maybe there is nothing else going on in the scene because the relationship between the two characters is, after all, the central focus of a romance novel. But I don’t really read straight-up romance and I definitely don’t write it, so if you do, I suggest you hit up a romance writer blogger for more advice there.
Oh, the scene I pulled this from is from this book, which was actually quite good.