It seems like I've been an avid anticipater my whole life. My personality profile suggests this about my preferred line of thinking: "What could be is always more exciting than what is." As a kid, the anticipation of any event almost eclipsed the event itself. Sometimes the buildup was so emotionally absorbing that the event almost felt anticlimactic in comparison.
I thought of the fun of anticipation the other night as I sat with some friends in my living room for Book Club. We read an old favorite, Pride and Prejudice, and had a good discussion. We also compared the book to the more prevalent movies released in recent decades. This led to a more general discussion about romance in books and movies, and one of my friends mentioned the fun of the buildup to that big kiss, the big embrace, the deliciousness of the tension and anticipation.
Remember when you were young and reading a book where the hero and heroine sat by each other, their fingers almost touching? Sometimes the simplest of gestures are the most satisfying. I remember being 13 and reading one of my beloved Trixie Belden books. Jim and Trixie HELD HANDS on a plane ride at the end of the story. Actually, she put her fist in his palm and he closed his fingers around it.
I was in absolute ecstasy. I must have read that book a million times for that scene alone.
I think there's a crucial element to a good love story that will work almost every time for me. Now, the fact that the book must be well written with compelling characters is a given. So ok, assuming those things are in place, the thing I want is tension. I want tension between the hero and heroine. By the time he finally takes her hand or they move in for that kiss, I want to be saying, preferably out loud, "Oh come ON already!" Make it worth my while. I want a story to be emotionally charged and the characters emotions to be deep and intense. I want the air around them charged and the passion intense with just a glance or a meeting of the eyes without a word even spoken.
Now, granted, I do not feel these things from reading Pride and Prejudice. The relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy is much more...subdued. At least on the page. My friend assures me that the Kiera Knightly version is much more grand and charged with love, drama and a fantastic music score. I have yet to see it myself, but it's on my list of to do's.
As a writer, I suppose my Ideal Reader would be the one who sighs at the end of my books, completely emotionally satisfied and fulfilled with the romance thing. My eternal quest will probably be to write the perfect book about the perfect romance that people will read again and again.
I suppose I should mention that my personality profile opens with this description: "If ever there was a personality destined to die for love, this is it."