Light My Fire

Fall brings to mind bonfires, burning leaf piles, roasting marshmallows and tailgate parties. Fire, fascinating and foreboding, has been a tool of mankind for millennia, probably before early man had a name for it. Fire is a useful tool in your writing as well.

Your characters need to Burn. They need to be as alive to the reader as the person sitting beside them, the person walking down the street, or lurking behind the shrubs. They need to blaze a trail through the pages, leaving ashes behind them. Their words, their actions, even their thoughts should fire the reader’s imagination, make them believe that this person, this character can come through the trouble with which he/she is faced and triumph. To do this, the writer must endow them with an inner fire and spirit equal to the task. Trying and failing does not make a story. Trying and failing and then trying and succeeding does.

Your sex scenes need to Sizzle. If it is worth writing about, it is worth writing well. Graphic sex has its place in literature, but that’s not what I refer to. The Heat between two characters should be visible to the reader – the way they touch, speak, look at each other. Their conversations, even when others are present, should be filled with emotions that only they can feel Smoldering beneath the words. Others may guess or intuit, but they can never understand the depth of passion. The reader must.

Sparks should fly when protagonist and antagonist meet, especially if their relationship is visceral and deadly. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Moriarty conversed as English gentlemen but the heat in the room would melt even The Queen’s icy resolve. Their words, their banter should be delivered like sword strokes or, if the relationship is more subtle, like daggers. This not only applies to high adventure, but to horror and science fiction as well. After a conversation between two strong foes, the reader should have to wipe his/her forehead and take a sip of water.

Fire is universal. It is elemental and necessary for a good story. Chances are most of your favorite novels struck a nerve with you because of the fire with which the writer imbued his words and characters. Put some Heat in your writing. Come on baby light my fire.

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