One of my beta readers thought I needed more scenes of my MCs falling in love. I agreed. But as I quickly discovered, when you’re writing about any emotional process, you run the risk of repeating yourself ad nauseam with all the feelings, actions and reactions that go along with it (because they happen so much). Some of the many things that occur during the falling-in-love process are smiling, laughing, gazing, whispering, caressing.
I was getting really tired of writing those words.
Then it occurred to me that you don’t have to write every single feeling or action. Readers understand what’s happening between your MCs, if from nothing else than your book blurb and the story’s genre. So use things like setting and dialogue to fill in the blanks where you’d normally put a feeling, action or reaction.
For example, let’s say the MCs are at a carnival. They’re holding hands and running around the midway playing games and having the time of their lives. You don’t have to repeatedly say “they smiled,” “he laughed,” etc. Readers get it.
Don’t get me wrong: you will still write a lot about smiling and laughing, but you can be more selective about it. Fit it in during unexpected times. For example, maybe one character’s joke sucked, but it still made another character’s day, so the person smiled/laughed.
My old school journalism training often creeps into my creative writing. I’m tempted to take readers through every detail, to explain processes step-by-step. But that’s not always needed in fiction. Set things up. Context is your friend. Readers will get it.