Thursday, February 7, 2013


Today's lesson is on intimacy. No, I'm not talking about sex so get your minds out of the gutter and turn off the TV so you can learn something. I'm talking about the true meaning of the word intimacy, what it means to be intimate.

Courtesy of
Intimate adj 1. Marked by close acquaintance, association, or familiarity. 2. Pertaining to or indicative of one's deepest nature.
American Heritage Dictionary, 1980

Intimacy is something that exists between people who have been friends so long they can finish each other's sentences. It is the husband who knows exactly how much sugar and cream his wife likes in her coffee. It is the mother who knows what to do to comfort her baby. It's the father knowing just how high to toss the ball so his son can hit it with the bat. It's knowing yourself and knowing the other person, or people, in your life deeply. It is the connection that binds.

I don't think I truly understood what it meant to be intimate until my son was born. I had experienced intimacy before with best friends, my husband certainly, even a few co-workers, but until I held my son and realized I could recognize the difference between the "I'm wet" cry and the "I'm hungry" cry, I did not know what intimacy really was. Intimacy is important. It is what makes us feel connected to each other. It keeps us in a family, it provides comfort and it is healing.

While writing my novel I discovered that not only do I have an intimate relationship with my character (duh, they are my characters) but they have intimacies between each other as well, and different levels of it at that. And for my characters to become as real to a reader as they are to me, I have to show their intimacies so the reader can become intimate with them too. I will give an example of what I mean in an excerpt from the rough draft of my novel, Murder at the Primrose Inn (working title but it's growing on me). It is a scene between Walter, Colleen Disantis and her co-worker Darryl Johnston.
     "That was horrible," Walter groaned over his slice of pizza. He really wanted to wash it, and his cross examination, down with a beer or two.
       "I told you to watch him," Disantis said picking the pepperoni off her slice and patting the oil off the top. "You did fine, all things considered. And, in the end, you pulled it back out of the shitter."
       Darryl vigorously shook the parmesan cheese over his piece of the pie and picked up Colleen's discarded pepperoni. "You did okay. I would have come off the stand and decked the guy."

Courtesy of
Colleen and Darryl have worked together for so long he is comfortable picking up her pepperoni and she doesn't care that he does. That's intimacy. I like their dynamic.

My goal during the editing and revision process is to look at the way the characters have intimacy with each other and with themselves as well. I hope that will make the readers feel as close to them and their story as I do.


  1. I like this article, LeeAnn. It's not easy (for me) to get inside my characters' heads- at first, they take shape from vapors to me and it takes time for me to realize who they you write about them, think about them, or just get to know them slowly overtime?

    1. Amanda, my characters come to me sometimes in vapors and sometimes like a head-on collision. I get to know them gradually. I think about them for a while and let them "form." Then, I draw out a basic character map. Then I write our a brief biography and backstory. As I write my novel, their stories get tweeked. Next thing I know they are full-blown people with a whole, complete biography that speaks for itself.

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