Learning From the Masters: The Meet-Cute Part IV


No series on writing meet-cutes would be complete without quoting the master of the contemporary YA romance: Stephanie Perkins.

Her books are adorable without being cheesy, both romantic and smart, realistic but still make you believe in happily ever after. The example I’ll give today is from her first book, Anna and the French Kiss. I loved this book–not as much as I loved her third book, but I think that’s a good thing. I hope my books all get better with time, too.

Behold, the moment when Anna meets Étienne:

“Yeah. See ya.” I try to say this casually, but I’m so thrilled that I skip from her room and promptly slam into a wall.

Whoops. Not a wall. A boy.

“Oof!” He staggers backwards.

“Sorry! I’m so sorry, I didn’t know you were there.”

He shades his head, a little dazed. The first thing I notice is his hair–it’s the first thing I notice about everyone. It’s dark brown and messy and somehow both long and short at the same time. I think of the Beatles, since I’ve just seen them in Meredith’s room. It’s artist hair. Musician hair. I-pretend-I-don’t-care-but-I-really-do-hair.

Beautiful hair.

“It’s okay, I didn’t see you either. All you all right, then?”

Oh my. He’s English.

“Er. Does Mer live here?”

Seriously, I don’t know any American girl who can resist an English accent.

The boy clears his throat. “Meredith Chevalier? Tall girl? Big, curly hair?” Then he looks at me like I’m crazy or half-deaf, like my Nanna Oliphant. Nanna just smiles and shakes her head whenever I ask, “What kind of salad dressing would you like?” or “Where did you put Granddad’s false teeth?”

“I’m sorry.” He takes the smallest step away from me. “You were going to bed.”

“Yes! Meredith lives there. I’ve just spent two hours with her.” I announce this proudly like my brother, Seany, whenever he finds something disgusting in the yard. “I’m Anna! I’m new here!” Oh God. What. Is with. The scary enthusiasm? My cheeks catch fire, and it’s all so humiliating.

The beautiful boy gives an amused grin. His teeth are lovely–straight on top and crooked on the bottom, with a touch of overbite. I’m a sucker for smiles like this, due to my own lack of orthodontia. I have a gap between my front teeth the size of a raisin.

“Étienne,” he says. “I live one floor up.”

“I live here.” I point dumbly at my room while my mind whirs: French name, English accent, American school. Anna confused.

He raps twice on Meredith’s door. “Well. I’ll see you around then, Anna.”

Eh-t-yen says my name like this: Ah-na.

My heart thumps thumps thumps in my chest.

Why does this work?

1. It’s descriptive without interrupting the action. I discussed this already in my other three posts.

2. The bump-into-love-interest could read as cliche–but doesn’t. It’s real, and it’s embarrassing, and they both handle it so sweetly.

3. We get not only details about the love interest–but details about the protagonist. Since it’s early on in the story, we don’t know a ton about Anna yet, and I love how bits of her are sprinkled in here–she thinks about her family a lot, she has a sense of humor, and she’s self-deprecating. All of these things make her super-relatable–you’re definitely on her side here if you weren’t already.

4. It’s funny. This scene reads like the book itself–cute and humorous but also smart. I love her random little thoughts about her Nanna and brother.

I think that’s all for my series on meet-cutes. Of course, there are tons of other great ones out there–let me know your favorites!

Photo by L.A Co. on Unsplash

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