Show Love Without Saying “I Love You.”

image by Crazygoat

Valentine’s Day approaches, and I have a novella in a Valentine’s Day collection. See more about Cooking Up Kisses at the end of my post.

Today, I use associated behaviors from The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes (Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi) to show Liam and Erin love each other. See if you can recognize the behaviors of love.

Liam

Liam sat on their favorite park bench. Expecting Erin fifteen minutes ago, he scrolled through the pages of an online newspaper. As approaching heels clicked the sidewalk in a hurried rhythm, he looked up. Erin’s red hair bobbed with each step. Liam rose, slid his phone into his pants pocket, and offered her a slow smile.

“I’m sorry I’m late.” Erin raised her face, and he pecked her soft lips.

image by HeungSoon

They sat. He reached for her hand and held her fingers in a loose grip. A little crease appeared between her lovely arched eyebrows. He searched her green eyes. “Everything all right?”

“It’s been one of those days.”

“I’m all ears.”

She touched the dimple in his chin and smiled. “You always are. I don’t know how you can be so handsome with so many ears.”

He chuckled. “So what’s your day been like, Erin?” He cocked his head, focused his eyes on hers, and listened as she related how her boss took credit for her work.

He released her hand when she needed it to express herself, then corralled it again when she calmed and sighed.

“Have you thought about taking the Mercury Street job? It sounded good.”

She searched his face. “Do you really think so?”

“I do. I think they’d appreciate your many talents there.”

“How do you know?”

“I researched their website and read all the comments. The comments alone showed they respect their employees.” He arched an eyebrow. “You may have to work longer hours, but they compensate by sharing profits with their employees.”

Erin cupped his face. “What would I do without you? You always make me feel better.”

A wide smile stretched his cheeks.

Erin

Erin answered her cell. “Hello, handsome.”

“Just checking in before I step up to the first tee.”

Erin smacked her forehead. “I forgot this is your golf day.”

“Did you need something?”

“No no.” No need to mention she’d made his favorite casserole for lunch.

image by Skitterphoto

“I probably won’t play more than the front nine. I left my putter in the garage after I rewrapped the grip. Putting with my sand wedge won’t help my game.”

“I can bring the putter to you. I go by the course on my way to the grocery story.” Which she didn’t need to go to, since they would eat reheated casserole for dinner. But the guy couldn’t enjoy his outing without his putter.

“That’d be great. I tee off in ten minutes.

“Who’re you playing with?”

Jim’s sick, so I’m playing alone.”

Erin’s gaze drifted to the romance she planed to read this afternoon. “How would you like some company? I can drive the cart while you make birdies.”

“I’d like the company, but are you sure? I bet you have plans for your day off.”

“I can think of nothing I’d rather do than spend the afternoon with you.” And oddly enough, she was telling the truth. Why read about romance when she could live it.

Show the love. Literally. Click to tweet.

What behaviors have you used to show love?

COOKING UP KISSES

Five scrumptious e-book romance novellas, all for $0.99 or free on KindleUnlimited. Ranked #4 in Christian Fiction Collections. Here’s the link.  Here’s the blurbs:

 

 

 

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN IN A RED DRESS BY ZOE M. McCARTHY

Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

 

LOVE ON A DARE BY MARY MANNERS

Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?

HUMMINGBIRD KISSES BY DELIA LATHAM

Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!

HEARTS ON THE HARBOR BY ROBIN BAYNE

Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?

 

HIS VALENTINE PROMISE BY DORA HIERS

Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

24 Traits to Show How Your Characters Think

“People generally agree that each individual is a unique blend of traits that serve to satisfy basic wants and needs according to one’s moral code.” — Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

by Famend
by Famend

Let’s have fun.

I have Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s writer’s resource, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes. I chose 24 character traits from their list and wrote thoughts the characters with these traits might think.

For each set below, can you match the thoughts of these characters at a party to their traits? My Answers are in the comments.

Match the Thought to the Character Trait

by Openclipartvectors
by Openclipartvectors

 Set 1 

 

Thoughts

 

Traits

A

Jerry’s drinking too much. I’ll ask him to take a look at my car’s starter problem. Get him away from the party.

   1

Innocent

B

I wish Erin wouldn’t praise me for how much I helped her with the party. Lots of people helped.

   2

Ambitious

C

I wish John would stop holding the bungee rope or instructing me. I know how to gear up.

   3

Introvert

D

Man, it’s crowded. Maybe we can leave early. Oh, oh. Here comes chatty Pam. Time to visit the restroom.

   4

Patient

E

Best make sure guests know exactly what they’re supposed to do in Fictionary. Is that lint on my skirt?

   5

Humble

F

Why is Cassie upset? I’m sure John danced with Candy just to be polite.

   6

Diplomatic

G

Forget the chitchat. Let’s see how many more prizes we can win than Anthony.

   7

Meticulous

H

Anthony butted in line. Oh well, let him. I’m in no rush.

   8

Independent

 

by bungeeinternational10
by bungeeinternational10

Set 2

 

Thoughts

 

Traits

I

Jill has goosebumps. I’ll take her sweater to her. And give her my cherry pie recipe. Her nieces will love it.

  9

 Honest

J

I’ll collect cups on the way to the kitchen and store the leftovers in the containers I brought with me.

  10

 Bold

K

I must tell Erin she reimbursed me too much for the shrimp.

  11

 Extroverted

L

Great! They have bungee jumping. I’ve never done that before. Let’s do it.

  12

 Quirky

M

I’ll sing my Fictionary definition. And I’ll add some cha-cha-cha to that dance as boring as a waltz.

  13

 Easygoing

N

We’re here! There’s Jill from my painting class. I want to talk to Cass. Got my ballet flats on. Let’s all dance.

  14

 Organized

O

I bet if I ask, Erin will let us sit at the head of the table.

  15

 Nurturing

P

Whichever event Pam wants to do is OK by me.

  16

 Adventurous

by EVA8-8008
by EVA8-800

 Set 3

 

Thoughts

 

Traits

Q

Meatballs would’ve done as well as the shrimp. No wonder Erin and Ralph are in debt.

   17

 Analytical

R

If Candy comes over, I’ll stay courteous but neutral. I have to fire her, but I’ll do it tactfully on Monday.

   18

 Charming

S

Look. Each person takes one minute in the food line. If we play Fictionary for an hour, we can avoid the line.

   19

 Patriotic

T

Who’s that with Lisa? I don’t recall inviting him. Lisa is vulnerable. I’d better join them.

  20

Professional

U

When Tim moves to the food, I’ll happen to cross his path and ask his advice on IRAs. I’ll touch my lips.

   21

 Protective

V

Beth wore holey jeans to a party? And why’d Tom try to recruit my son? Upholstery is our family business.

  22

 Flirtatious

W

Jerry should live somewhere else if he doesn’t like how things are done in this country.

  23

 Thrifty

X

Let me help Pam with her coat. Great dress Sylvia’s wearing. I’ll tell her. Mark could use one of my jokes.

  24

 Traditional

Thoughts that characters with specific traits would think. Click to tweet.

What might a loyal character think at the party?

How to Make Your Surly Character Likeable

“Well, the thing about great fictional characters from literature, and the reason that they’re constantly turned into characters in movies, is that they completely speak to what makes people human.” —Keira Knightley

Image courtesy of Rosemary Ratcliff / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Rosemary Ratcliff / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have a surly character in my inspirational contemporary romance. Allie is ill-mannered because people and events have hurt her in the past and she’s had enough. She has much room for growth. How am I going to make readers care enough about her to read her story? 

Tweetable

  • Do you have a character who’s surly and might be disliked by your readers?
    click to tweet

So what am I to do?

  • Be true to my character’s position at the opening of my story. Allie is flawed. She’s quick to misjudge people.
  • Recognize, especially at the beginning, the times Allie is too harsh with little good to balance her disposition.
  • Give indications of the true person who lies beneath Allie’s current tack toward insolence.
  • Show Allie’s fears, hopes, and struggles.
  • Show a moment when Allie is vulnerable. Especially near the beginning.
  • Feed in bits of backstory as necessary to show why she acts as she does. When Allie is brusque, give a memory that makes her fear letting a person see her soft side.
  • Continue to give glimpses of Allie’s internal goodness as the story unfolds.
  • Make her able to do things by the end of the story that she isn’t able to do at the beginning. Allie will be able ask Jesus to come into her life. She’ll strive not to misjudge others. She’ll ask for forgiveness from others and forgive those who’ve hurt her.

Tweetable

  • How do I show my surly character’s internal goodness?
    click to tweet

    by cjhulin85
    by cjhulin85
  • Have Allie do something at the beginning of the story that shows she has redeeming qualities.
  • Give Allie thoughts and physical reactions to her wounds, dreams, hopes, and fears. Other characters may not recognize Allie’s deep emotions but her feelings will come across to the reader.
  • Show Allie what she sounds like to herself when she speaks harshly. At times, show her wanting to be better than a person who speaks like that.
  • Show moments in which Allie is honest about past events, her struggles and fears, and her hopes and dreams.

But what if she’s over-the-top surly for much of the story? I hope I can make Allie more likeable without resorting to these.recite-26912-292788037-188q2fb

  • Give your character a unique flaw that you play up so readers enjoy “hating” the character.
  • Give your character an enemy who is more unlikeable than your main character.

Tweetable

  • What traits are turn-offs that I should avoid giving my main characters?
    click to tweet
  • Bullying
  • Patronizing
  • Picking on weaker people
  • Using violence to get her way
  • Gaining pleasure from ruining others’ lives
  • Moaning about hardships
  • Holding lots of pity parties
  • Making wrong inferences and not allowing others to explain themselves
  • Gossiping to hurt others
  • Lying all the time

What do you use or have seen others use to make surly characters likeable?