Wright’s Writing Corner: Catching the Lightning – Part Two* (Actually Three)

* — which is actually Romantic Tension Two, part two, making it, in fact, Part Three.





In this installment, we are continuing our discussion of the zing moments…those moments of heightened intimacy in a romance that produce a sudden jolt in the reader. First kisses. The moment she says, “I love you.” (preferably not followed by “I know.” As a child, I could not think of anything more embarrassing than finally baring one’s heart only to receive a “I know.” That’s an anti-zing moment. An ack, rather than a zing.)


 What moments produce zing? What moments could the author beef up to give more zing?


In the comments from the previous week there were some very nice examples of zing, as well as some thoughts on what might be the catalyst. For instance, putting the beloved in danger is a great way to have the hero or heroine suddenly realize the depth of their affections—a great zing moment.


In my efforts to conquer the Everest of romantic tension, I have been keeping a list of zing-producers. Here are my two versions of the list:



  1. Spot
  2. Meet
  3. Brush hands
  4. Touch
  5. Thoughts linger
  6. Resist
  7. Body responding
  8. Resist
  9. Thoughts hung up on
  10. Resist
  11. Heart responding
  12. Resist
  13. Heart entirely lost
  14. Discover love




  1. Meet and or notice the other person
  2. Realize that one has noticed the other person
  3.      Resist this fact
  4. Realizing that one is 'a bit taken'
  5.      Resist this fact
  6. Realizing that one cares what the other thinks of one.
  7.      Resist this fact
  8. Realizing that one is really quite serious about the other person
  9.      Resist this fact
  10. Realizing how vulnerable one is around the other person
  11.      Resist this fact
  12.  Realizing one does not know if the other person feels the same way
  13. Fear of being rejected
  14. Fear of losing the other person
  15. Realizing that they are in love
  16.      Resist this fact
  17. Fear of never feeling this way again
  18. Admitting their love–to themselves
  19. Admitting their love to the beloved
  20. Discovering that they are loved in return


A great deal of romance is about resistance. “He is the last man I would marry” is just as much an indicator to the reader of the romantic struggle going on in the heart of the heroine as “He’s the man I want.” In fact, more so. There is very little tension in a story about two people who already want each other. Most romance is about overcoming the reasons that they don’t want each other.


Maybe another time I will do a post on the importance to romantic tension of resisting the lure. Perhaps, I will call it: To Heck With The Borg! Resistance is Essential!


Each of these steps…and the others I have not yet thought of…are opportunities for the author to zing the reader. Can a given book make use of every single one of these steps? Probably not, though it might be possible. But many books could make use of more of these steps than they do.


Many authors, even romance authors, just breeze past the zing moments without taking advantage of them. They often do not realize that just pausing briefly to have the character think: “Hey, maybe I like him!” Or “Whoa, I don’t recall feeling this way before. Could something serious be going on here?” can be enough to bring out the zing factor, making the very same scene that much more pleasant and re-readable.


(I go back and reread some of my favorite zing scenes, at least in my favorite books. And others must, too, because some of you folks posted just such scenes last week.)


So, in closing, zing is that sudden moment of increased intensity between a couple that electrifies the reader. Romance readers read for the zing, but even regular readers enjoy an occasional zing to spice up their action adventure or their grizzly horror story.  (Well, maybe not the grizzly horror story.)


One can add more zing by deliberately highlighting such moments, recognizing them in the story and drawing them out on the page. The more such moments the author pauses to showcase, the more the story zings the reader.


So, take the list above and move down it like a locomotive juggernaut, relentlessly bonking the reader with every single stop on the list, cramming in as much zing as humanly possible, while adding fifty new stops of your own.




Seriously, take the list above and glance at it. See if anything in it inspires a scene or even a sentence that might heighten a moment that already exists in your manuscript.


And if you do think of fifty more zingable moments, please share them with me!