Showing The Crush

Continuing yesterday’s theme from Show Me,  I am discussing showing the crush.  In other words, conveying the “falling in love” or crushing stage.


I’ve read numerous romance novels where the author “Tells”  the audience that the female main character is falling in love with the  leading man. I personally find this disdainful.

Whether it is in a romance, or a romantic interest within another genre, it pays tobe a sensual writer. Sensual as in tapping into the senses. What are they feeling? hearing? seeing? smelling? tasting?

Memories are often correlated to smells.  I can’t smell Aqua Velva without thinking about my father. The smell of fresh-baked oatmeal cookies remind me of my mother’s kitchen.

Songs or sound memories can be even more powerful. How many couples remember “their song”  that was played at their wedding reception or perhaps when they went to prom together?  Any time I hear Sweet Home Alabama,  I have an instant visual of summers spent at the pool,  playing foosball with my friends.

Conveying the senses is an important part of showing in writing. So how do you show the crush?

There are physiological signs that a person exhibits when they are in love, or at least crushing.

The brain – Obsessing over a crush creates anxiety,  which causes the logical thinking part of your brain to temporarily shut down (The part of you that says stop texting him until he at least returns the first of your twenty-seven texts)

The throat –  the larynx constricts, and your voice subtly changes.  This is caused by a sudden increase  in endorphins, blood flow increased to the area, engorging the tissue and lowering the  tension in the vocal cords – much like a  guitar string, the tone drops.  (When he asked you out to a movie, your voice suddenly  grew husky enough to pull a sled.)

Your heart – Getting close to your crush causes a burst of adrenaline, which causes your heart to beat faster, loader, which also makes you blush. That heart pounding out of your chest feeling is for reals.  Typically, the average female who is in “Crush” mode, easily drops a few pounds because your metabolism has increased.  Nice side benefit, eh? (I wish that would work now, beyond the crush stage to the living it out stage.)

Your stomach – Oh hi there little butterflies!  The sudden increase in blood flow causes the blood to flow away from your stomach – which gives you that fluttery feeling.  A nervous jittery sensation that lodges in your gut whenever your crush is near, or in your thoughts. Either that or you skipped breakfast again.

Your hands – With all this increase in blood flow is there any wonder that your palms get sweaty and itchy? Your sweat glands are in overdrive.  You might want to make sure you reapply that underarm deodorant as well.

Your knees  –  Stress hormones. YUP.  Stress hormones put a strain on your muscles, tiring them out quicker than normal.  Feeling like your knees are going to buckle  is a sure sign that you are crushing. OR that you are pregnant,  but lets not get the cart before the horse, shall we?  FYI,  pregnancy hormones have the same effect, also causing increased blood flow  and akin to the blushing is the pregnancy glow. We are talking about knocking knees not knocked up.

Your feet – Increased adrenaline, blood flow leads to  fight or flight response. Running through a field of wildflowers, or twirling in the sunshine, or  dancing – all of which are often accompanied by a ridiculous grin that you can’t seem to  wipe off your face.  You know you can  benefit from this in combining this effect with the natural increase in metabolism by hitting the gym or hitting the pavement to tone that body even more to get your crush to notice but be mindful of the weak knees that strike suddenly.

Keep in mind that the recipient of your crush is most likely experiencing the same effects.

So, with physical signs of falling in love, it should be easy to show this in your writing. Which is more exciting:

a)Dianna was falling hard for Mitch. He occupied her every waking thought and had even appeared in her dreams lately as well.

b) Dianna was flushed. Her palms were sweaty and her hands shook as she picked up her phone, excited that Mitch had texted her.  A smile quickly spread as her pulse raced. Nervously chewing her lip as she swiped open the text remembering how Mitch had starred in her dream last night.

Which would you rather read?

Showing your crush by using these physiological signs would make for a much better story than simply telling.

The same principle can be employed in any scene. One of the first milestones in my mind that I had a knack for writing was when I got back a term paper from a college professor in American History about the Battle of Antietem and he had written that my battle scene description nearly made him puke.

I call that a win.  I know,  I’m weird.  I’m a writer, what did you expect?

Write on my friends, write on!


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