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Writing a "First Date" Scene : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Writing a "First Date" Scene

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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DrG2
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Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby DrG2 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:12 pm

It makes sense that a couple would tell each other about themselves during a first date. However, it seems like such a cheap way to insert backstory. I could insert enough witty conversation that's it's not boring, but it seems like I'd be cheating. Of course, people talk about a lot of things that aren't related to the plot, so it'd be hard to pick and choose what to include.

Any advice?
Any reference to a great "first date scene" in a published book?

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Re: Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby Metilda » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:11 pm


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mammamaia
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Re: Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby mammamaia » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:15 pm

i'd advise either tying what they do/say on the date to the plot in some way, or just say they went on the date and don't bore the reader with the details...
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james.ticknor
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Re: Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby james.ticknor » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:32 pm

When on a first date, inital appearances are everything. I would note the scruff on their shoes, their calloused hands, their sharp dress/suit. I would think it funny if one dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and the other got all fancy. The contrast couldn't be more perfect, and sets up a more ironic stage if they are meant to be. If not, it sets up the story for a problem right away. Also the difference in food, type of resturaunt (such as a run-down McDonald's). The resturaunt can also determine the theme. The person's attitude, how they eat (fingers vs. utensiles), if they eat petitely or largely (esp. on a woman), etc. There are so many things that you can do with it. I've been on very few first dates, but I'll tell you I was never more nervous when this simple country boy (me) was invited to an upscale resturaunt where I was under-dressed, had no idea how to pronounce the food or what it was, was a minor (the other person drank wine), was very far out of their financial league (the bill was insane), and ordered tea. When it came back, they put a flower in it. But not just a flower- this flower had grass and all sorts of decorative things at the bottom. A real flower in a real glass of tea. I had never felt more out of place. I chatted away nervously and revealed much more about myself than I realized, gave far too many nervous laughs, and about gagged when I realized what "calamari" (spelling?) was. Goodness, there are so many things you can do to write a first date scene, but nothing artifical is as inspiring as real ones lol.

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MookyMcD
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Re: Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby MookyMcD » Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:56 pm

For the same reasons the first date could be somewhat trite, it could be a goldmine if you write satire.

"Tell me about yourself," she said. She hoped her smile seemed sweet. She was so preoccupied with figuring out why he wore a $199 off-the-rack suit with $1,500 Russian calf shoes and a watch that cost ten times that amount, her smile fell well-short of sweet.

"You mean, you want my entire back-story? Like a character in some crappy novel by an author who lacks the skill to weave that information into the story itself?" He laughed. "OK."

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Crono91
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Re: Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby Crono91 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:08 am

When I wrote a romance, I made the first date reflect the back story.

Meaning, the boy took the girl to this tree that had stairs build around it, spiraling high up into the canopy (the girl hated heights), and up top was a deck within the branches. They ate up there. The boy and his father built it together, and the father was dead, which was a large chunk of his backstory.

Then the girl took the boy to a somewhat rundown building. Inside everything was being remodeled, and in the auditorium was a large piano. The girl played instruments, and she got some volunteers together to help build a place where young students could go after school and learn music (since the small town cut music from the school's curriculum. It was a big part of her personality.

So instead of the characters talking about their backstory, just show it, if possible.
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James A. Ritchie
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Re: Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:06 am

Unless something vital happens during the first date, it's probably a bad idea to put it on stage. Only action, conflict, or having a character learn something vital is reason enough to put such a scene directly onstage. If the date is really only about character, about backstory, leave it offstage.

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mammamaia
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Re: Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby mammamaia » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:13 am

yup!

keep that best of all writing axioms in mind at all times:

"less is more"

...even though the phrase originally referred to painting, in a poem written in 1855 by andrea del sarto and was made popular by mies van der rohe in re architectural perfection... ;)
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Ride the Pen
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Re: Writing a "First Date" Scene

Postby Ride the Pen » Fri Jul 18, 2014 11:40 am

In regards to "It seems like I would be cheating":

The WAY you introduce information in your dialogue determines whether your reader feels cheated on or not. It's not about the NATURE of the information, you can let them know anything you want.

Ways to bring information in unobstrusively: Above all, find "triggers" that let your characters spurt out their info. Some emotion/reaction should usually trigger them into saying something. The info they give a way is a "response" to some feeling they get, to something somebody else says or something they witness, etc...

Also, of course, keep the scene interesting BESIDES the info: Bring in something embarassing, something fun, some tension, something unusual. A date is a situation with some tension, anticipation, joy, disappointment in the air anyways (they are just discovering each other), so there is a lot of stuff to play with!

Hope this helps.


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