Writer’s Craft #33 – Special Love

Part 7: Healer's Ssword
Ilse Marin on cover of Healer's Sword

Love. Sweet, steamy, star-crossed or paranomal … what makes your lovers special? By which I mean, themselves and not generic.

Below is the passage that prompted this post. It's from the POV of Ilse Marin, the heroine introduced into my series in Part 7: Healer’s Sword. The quote is from Part 10: Unholy Science, still in draft.

Share your “special love” quote from your own work (or a favorite) as a comment. Or your ideas on what makes a couple interesting.

Love was much too kind a word for the force binding her and Horth Nersal together, but it was too complex to call it an obsession. It wasn’t just his body she loved. His soul was like a core of bright steel, worn smooth; the handle of a good sword; a deep, constant ocean of integrity as fierce in its embrace of family as it was lethal in opposition. His talents and intelligences inspired her, her own strengths made to complement his weaknesses. She wanted to defend him against the world, explain him where he might be misunderstood, burn in the heat of their shared passion and bask in the security his presence promised.

22 thoughts on “Writer’s Craft #33 – Special Love

  1. -(Linda, does that cover resemble your word press avatar??? i think so!!! )

    Anyhow, I most quote my favorite author on this one, as Gabriel Garcia Marquez just can’t be bested in this catergory.

    “To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.” -Love in the Time of Cholera

    1. My WordPress avatar is B&W of me in grad 12 when I started inventing the Okal Rel universe. Combined with rel symbol, it was used as cover of a disk Dave Anderson of RFF put together for teachings. A resemblence between my teenage self and Ilse? Cooincidental if true! But I guess there’s some of one’s self in every characer.

  2. Hmm, These pieces have always had me scratching my head, not being particularly good at love in any aspect. (Having a face that could make a freight train take a dirt road probably involved here). 🙂

    I had to do some digging to find a piece with any human-ish love in it. This is a bit from a really old piece I got a pretty interesting rejection letter for. It’s a bit long and apologies for that.

    . . .

    The touch on his back sent him whirling away, giving DeVeed one last punch and sliding a knife out of his sleeve as he spun towards the new threat. His back hit the wall hard enough to send a pan clanging down off its hook as the blade leaped up. Stopped cold, maybe two millimetres between razor point and Lorraine’s eye. He closed his eyes, sick with how close it had been, worse that she had seen him like this. Opened them again at soft fingers tracing his callouses.

    “It’s ok, you stopped in time. I’m not afraid of you. I knew you wouldn’t hurt me.”

    He swallowed adrenaline sour and focused on the improbability of that, her red-black hair barely coming up to the bottom of her chest. She stretched up and traced a fingertip along the jumping muscles in his jaw.

    “So fierce and so gentle all at once.” She slid the knife from his hand and twined fingers while she tossed it behind her.

    He smiled and DeVeed appeared in his peripheral vision, knife lunging for Lorraine’s unprotected back. Far too late, he began to twist her out of the way; her foot blurred backward and the sound of DeVeed’s head thudding against the stove snapped time back to normal.

    She smiled again and slipped into the curve of his arm as she led him away.

    . . .


    – JP

    1. And of course, missed a gender switch here. It reads a titch better when you substitute “his” chest in the middle there.

  3. For me, lovers bridging cultures is what helps to make them not so generic. Those are my favorite love stories, and the ones I write the most. It’s not that the lovers are unlikely – the fun part is making the love between their characters plausible even given how different their origins are. And it’s then also neat to write about how they affect each other, given their differences.

    1. Me too, Michelle. The cross-cultural love stuff. 🙂 Love is such a great, irrational motive for making people cross lines, create conflict and exposure incompatibilities at the same time. The stuff of both humor and drama.

    2. Michelle, you make a fascinating point. Something I find very difficult is showing the reader just how much of an obstacle differing mores can be and how much it means when people overcome them!


      – John

    1. Same sentiment came up on a “Writing difficult scenes” panel I did yesterday at “When Words Collide” in Calgary. Real is more powerful because it’s more vulnerable and detailed. On the other hand, one can’t deny the success of extreme cases like Twilight or Romeo and Juliet, either. I think Shakespeare makes the R&J story real by giving the leads so much specificity of character. They are crazy kids in a real way and the extremity of their feelings could arguably be viewed as character flaws.

  4. The lovers in my book, Firedancer (being released in September) have a special problem: he is a master of wind, she of fire. His element can fan hers to fury and endanger her even as she is trying to battle some unexpected incidence of fire. Learning to cross the barriers of prejudice and fear and work together is a major element of the book, as is the fact that they have both lost lifemates from their own clans. Just acknowledging new love is hard for both of them.

  5. I’m proudest of Eric and Prudence, a married transgendered couple living in 1890s Philadelphia. Prudence is a mad scientist sort with an unfortunate fondness for unreliable time travel devices.

    From the story “11 Minutes Late” (Prudence has been arrested and is being kept in the men’s wing of the jail):

    Eric slid an arm around her shoulder and stroked her face with his other hand. He kissed her cheek. Her plum hair had been hacked to barely an inch in length, bloodied and swollen lacerations marred her face and disappeared down the shadows of her neck, and she wore a man’s rough, striped prison uniform. Still. Eric kissed her again and drew her close. “Prudence,” he said, “you are the most beautiful woman I have ever known.”

    1. Complex. But certainly circumstances in which the sentiment is bound to be hugely validating.
      And don’t forget to share links or cite publication or histories of works when meaningful, folks.

  6. I feel the world doesn’t need another undying, passionate bond between two breathtakingly attractive people. I offer the following, from Book Six of the Elder Light series, “Arikinsa”. The lovers are two males of the Elder Race, whose culture condemns such relationships. Silvanius feels terribly guilty about it, and dreads the consequences when, inevitably, the affair is discovered, but he can’t help his feelings for Diosadorik, who adores him.

    “Silvanius opened one eye and watched the youth go off to the bathing room. Years of exercise and therapy had put wiry muscles on those thin limbs. His skin was a landscape of scars, a map of a journey from twisted distortion to functional normalcy. It was not a handsome body. It was the body of a survivor.
    When Diosadorik returned, Silvanius got up to take his turn. He took a moment to enjoy what was beautiful about Diosadorik, his eyes and sweet smile, and a passing touch that spoke eloquently.
    In the bathing room, Silvanius relieved himself, splashed water on his face, and took a moment to sponge off his body. It was a fine, strong body. A handsome body that had known very little suffering. He had always prided himself on his powerful physique. But his was not the body of a survivor. It told no story of long struggle and sacrifice. Having known Diosadorik, he did not feel the same pride he once did. But his strength, his power and fine form delighted Diosadorik. That gave them more worth than any possible satisfaction to his personal vanity.”

    1. Survivors are beautiful, indeed. “Rel pilots make dock” is the phrase I use to cheer those for whom survival is as great an achievement as winning big would be for luckier people.

  7. Ursula K LeGuin’s characters, George Orr and Heather Lelache, always spring to my mind as an excellent example of lovers in fiction. I particularly enjoyed Ms. LeGuin’s simile about making love being like making bread: how love is something that requires work and care.

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