I fell in love with my wife when I saw her in a production of The Taming of the Shrew. It did not matter that I was only seventeen at the time—I knew I had found the real thing. When her parents moved her from our hometown of Providence to Seattle, I moaned to my mother that I did not think I would ever meet anyone like her ever again. I suppose my mother rolled her eyes at this, but as it happened I was right. Ten years later, we were married.
Now, my characters tend to fall in love at first sight. As such, I have been tempted to waste some ink trying to paint the most desirable portrait of whomever my hero has fallen in love with. But in all my writings about characters falling in love, and in my experience of reading other writers writing about people falling in love, I have come to this conclusion: no matter how hard you try, no matter how full her lips or dashing his eyes, you cannot convince a reader someone is handsome or beautiful simply by listing their physical assets.
There is not one single person on the planet that every single other person on the planet finds attractive. Beauty in the end remains a great fish story except to he who has beheld it. This is because love, beauty, and attraction have very little to do with what someone looks like and all to do with where they are headed.
We are always drawn to someone’s energy. That energy may take the form of a svelte waist or disheveled hair—it doesn’t matter. It is energy, which is intention, which is a direction. Life is not a static thing after all but a trajectory, and we know, when we link with someone else, we are now headed somewhere together, whether that is in conversation or in bed or in the mall.
When I was a young man I always wanted to write love stories. I took this to mean I was a romantic of sorts, but I understand now I was not. What I loved was the moment of someone recognizing love, for in that moment you feel the spark of interest, a curiosity racing you toward the life you want to live.