Strephon kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.
Strephon’s kiss was lost in jest,
Robin’s lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin’s eyes
Haunts me night and day.
In any good story there’s going to be some tension between the characters. Believe me, you want this. It keeps it interesting.
Tension doesn’t necessarily mean the characters have to be arguing or fighting. There just needs to be some force between them that keeps the relationship alluring and fresh. Something between the characters that get their hearts beating faster and their blood pumping wilder in order for your heart and blood to be stirred. In order for a reader to connect with the story.
Like your stomach butterflies when you anticipate a first kiss. Or the stomach-sinking feeling when you’ve just learned life-changing news. Or the joy you feel when you discover you’ve been acknowledged and awarded for something you’ve poured your heart and soul in to. Or the adrenaline rush you get when you ride a roller coaster (so I’ve been told, ’cause I don’t ride). And yes, the tension could be in the form of anger or sadness directed at a friend caught lying or a lover caught cheating on you.
Tension could also manifest from something as subtle as the heat you feel on your skin when you glance across the room at the most beautiful person in the world and he or she is staring back at you with a look in the eyes that says they are thinking the same about you. Neither speaks a word and words are unnecessary to communicate the passion therein.
That’s the tension I want to illuminate today. And that’s why I love Sara’s poem. It says so much about how effective a look can be. About how much can be communicated. Lust. Sadness. Hope. Admiration. Surprise. Fear. Love.
I love this subtle tension so much that I write my characters to show emotions with their eyes…as much as they do with their mouths. Double entendre intended.