Friday, June 11, 2010

How They Met

The novel that I'm writing is a chick lit novel, and one of the things I struggled with at first was the scene where the two main characters meet. I wanted it to be funny, honest, and original, so that the following scenes where the characters formed a connection with each other would be suprising rather than expected and all laid out by the first page.

What about you? In the stories you're writing, did you also struggle with "how they met" scenes? Or did your characters already know each other before they formed connections?

I once met a guy who told me that he met his wife at the Chicago Summer Dance Festival, where people learn new moves and dance to live music in Grant Park every week. He said that at one point the announcer told the crowd to turn around and dance with whoever they were facing. This guy did, and he came face to face with a beautiful woman. They fell in love the first time they danced together.

I met another guy who said he met his girlfriend at a train stop. They waited for the same train at the same time every morning, and they kept noticing each other. Eventually they got up enough courage to talk to each other, and now they've been together for years.

I also know of (though I don't them personally) two people who met through their blogs; they kept blogs on the site and made videos of themselves. Apparently they found each other's blogs, left messages for each other, and then they finally met in person and fell for each other. The guy ended up moving to Boston, where the girl lived, in order to be with her. Then they started documenting their relationship through their blogs.

I always thought I'd meet that special someone the way so many other people did, at a party, through friends, or even by accident. It's not like I had unrealistic expectations about meeting someone. I didn't think I'd lock eyes with some guy on a crowded street, and that we'd then run towards each other with our arms outstretched, as music played out of nowhere and everything suddenly happened in slow motion. Not only is that unrealistic, it's also totally lame.

Before I even considered online dating, I thought the whole concept was weird. The idea of going through profiles as if I was combing through a catalog (of men) seemed surreal to me. And I couldn't imagine writing to perfect strangers, let alone dating any of them. What if the guy turned out to be an ex-con? Or what if he was a lot younger/older/weirder-looking than he appeared to be?

But now a lot more people are doing online dating. And it's not viewed in the same way as it was when it first came on the scene. And many people are succeeding at it; they're meeting great people, going on dates, falling in love, and getting married. And now that I've tried online dating, I actually like the idea of writing to someone before the first date. It's often easier to break the ice that way.

Even if I don't meet someone I could be with, I'm still willing to give online dating another shot, at least for now. Hopefully I won't regret it. Hopefully I won't feel the urge to give up dating altogether or smash my laptop into tiny pieces so that I never have to look at another profile again. Hopefully, I'll meet someone I like.

I have another date tonight, this time with a different guy. (What? I know I just went on a date with someone else on Tuesday, but I'm going out of town next week and then I won't get to date at all until I come back! I figure I should meet the guys sooner rather than later, especially because they might meet Heidi Klum's double before they meet me, and then all would be lost as far as I'm concerned.)


  1. People meet in all sorts of places. Classes, shops, through family, at the library, in the park... It is just a matter of bringing them to each others attention.
    Best of luck with your writing and your date.

  2. i think in literature the first meeting is very important. that isn't to say the first meeting always has to be super funny or over the top. in fact, depending on the characters' journeys, the first meeting can be a seemingly innocuous occurrence. that's one of the reason's i love chick lit, because although often there is a sort of formula to the genre, the first meetings are so varied and unique to the novels.

  3. Hi cassandrajade,
    Thanks for the encouragement. I think you're right about how people meet everywhere; I guess I just have to keep an open mind.

    Hi mi,
    You're right about how the first meeting can be a seemingly innocuous occurrence, especially because many people meet in ordinary circumstances; then in many cases it leads to not-so-ordinary results.

  4. It's fascinating how people meet. I knew a couple who met at an ice skating rink and fell in love. I've known people meeting on the job and getting married later on. It's a romantic concept, this first meeting. And the best part of it is--you never know when or where it'll happen!

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your dating adventures. You have such a witty & thoughtful way about you. But, the best part about it, even if the guy is a less than potential boyfriend, you'll always have story material! :)

  5. I love chick lit. I'm a huge fan. But I don't write it, or at least I haven't yet. I'd like to give it a try maybe after my next project. I'm fascinated with how people meet as well. One of my favorite movies is Sleepless in Seattle because it's so cool how they happen to meet against all odds.

  6. Good luck with the date!

    I'm a huge fan of chick lit - it's what I write. And I always love thinking of how my characters meet! In real life, too, people have such interesting stories.

    And oh yes - I'm with Karen! Sleepless in Seattle is such a great film!

  7. So here's a little teaser. Tomorrow's post is going to reveal a project that I have been working on for a while and essentially it talks about how people meet and instead of dancing around it, I kind of just wrapped my arms around it and embraced the idea. Sometimes you just need to forget yourself for a bit and say, how do I want to meet somebody? Maybe that doesn't help you at all. I give bad advice sometimes.

  8. Hi notesfromnadir,
    Thanks! And you're right, at least this could make for some good story material. Looking back on some of the dates I've been on, I've already got a few ideas...

    Hi KarenG,
    Ooh, Sleepless in Seattle! Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are awesome. And I like how you described how they met against all odds; I think it gives the people watching them hope.

    Hi Talli,
    I'm a huge fan of chick lit too; it's so much fun to read, and I think it has a lot of stuff in there that people can relate to.

    Hi Boomka,
    Your post sounds interesting. You have a good attitude towards meeting people, and it's not bad advice at all! You're right about how it's sometimes necessary to forget yourself, but that's difficult for me to do sometimes because I'm so self-conscious. I should let my guard down more.

  9. I hope you have more luck with on-line dating.

    Meeting scenes have been okay with me. I find action scenes a little more work. Writing my first sex scene for YA was REALLY difficult.

    One of my favorite "meeting" stories was in that movie "Best in Show". The two characters saw one another from different Starbucks across the street from one another. The next day, each went to the other one's Starbucks. Eventually they wound up in the same one.

  10. The more people you meet, the more you realize what a small world it is. I'm sort of awkward at chit chat so there's not a whole lot of that in my first meetings. People sort of just start talking.

    Good luck on your date. :)

  11. Hi Theresa,
    I've never seen Best in Show, but I like your description of how the two characters met. I go to Starbucks fairly frequently, so hmmm...

    Hi Palindrome,
    It is a small world. I'm awkward at chit chat too, except when I first meet someone I start talking too much. And then it gets even more awkward. :)