The Many Ways our Characters Get Burned


Smoke stung her eyes and tears blurred her vision. Heat seared her lungs, scorched along her nerve endings, the pain breaking the fire’s spell. She spun frantically. Which way was out? Pillars of flame blocked her path in every direction. Sandy was in the devil’s domicile, with no idea which direction led to safety and which led her deeper into hell.

Gasping for each breath, her vision began to film over with a purple-red mist. Thickened blood pounded hard through her carotid arteries, struggling to carry oxygen to her brain. Her arms and legs were clunky, hard to move. Her neck didn’t have the strength to hold up her head.

She was going to die here.

He came for her on the gush of artificial rain, pushing back the firestorm; her personal white knight rescuing her from the grip of the enraged dragon. She felt his confident touch as he pulled her into the safety of his embrace. He used his own body as her shelter against the ravenous inferno.

She followed his guidance with complete trust. His muscles contracted around her as he launched them both into a desperate leap through the waves of heat. They landed with breath-stealing pain and he rolled them over the muddied ground, in the wash of spray from the pumper truck.

Ryan pushed to his feet, hauling Sandy up with him, swiftly pulling her away from the fire. She clung to his arm as coughing wracked her body, nearly knocking her back to her knees. Once she had her bearings, she nodded and stepped away from him.

“I’m good,” she shouted over the angry howl of the fire.

He pointed her toward Justin. Sandy barely had time to register this new, all-business side of Ryan before, with a last quick look into her eyes, he left her side.

From Lifeline Echoes, contemporary romance by Kay Springsteen currently in the pipeline.

Of course fire burns, but there are so many other ways our heroes and heroines can be burned, aren’t there? Love and sexual attraction can generate heat, and the fire of anger can ruin a character’s whole day…or at least that scene. Michener wrote a book called The Fires of Spring, about the awakening of young love. Harry Potter had a Goblet of Fire, which was a take on trials by fire. Go to Amazon and type “fire” into the book search engine. Hundreds of books pop up – themes such as Forbidden Fire, Sacred Fire, Fire and Ice. Fire and heat make the reader think of passion; the passion of love, passion of a sexual nature, passion for life. The thought of heat often draws a reader in. But even if you don’t use “fire” in your title, your novel must contain passion in some form.

I believe, in order to hold the interest of the reader, a novel must contain the author’s own passion for life. If we carefully construct a manuscript but do not breathe life into it through our own passion for the characters, we show we don’t truly care about those characters. If we don’t care, why should anyone else?

What ways do you use to add fire to your writing?

Just over one week until the release of Heartsight, where the element of danger is not fire, but wind and water…

And watch for an exciting announcement about Heartsight this week.

Until next time, good reading!



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