I. When is the date going to be? On a weekend? On a school night? Holiday? You’ll be surprised but this impacts the scene a lot. Also, what time: in the morning? Afternoon? Nighttime? For example, a date on a weekend means flexibility and could be at any time of the day. A date on the school night may be restricted to watching a movie or dinner as oppose to going to a theme park which can be an all day event.
II. The age and the resources of your character makes a difference, too. Teenagers tend to have not much money so the date will be something either free like a walk in the park or cheap like a movie date. However, you can say your character saved up their money to take their chosen on a perfect date. Young adults who typically are in college or work much more than teens, will have a larger disposable income. Meaning, at the theme park they could buy more prizes or purchase more games for their date. Older folks, depends on their lifestyle and what they do for a living. The choices are endless.
I. Did they meet at a bar or club? School or an event? Is this a blind date? Something as simple as “I’m glad I decided to go to the bank yesterday. I’m lucky to have met you” will do. Nothing too creepy or ridiculous though. So be aware of that.
II. The backstory can be weaved throughout your scene in different layers. Although, if you want to cover a majority of it now, you can add a sentence or two telling the reader how these two originally met.
III. A first date can in fact be at first meeting. Whether it’s through a blind date or a meeting that just so happened to turn into a date. Easy dialogue where the person is getting to know their date will show the reader these two are actually strangers.
Depending on where they go, describe the atmosphere around them including the way they are dressed.
I. When on a first date, inital appearances are everything. At a places that is casual, let’s say a movie theater, the couple will dress in jeans or possible the woman wears a simple dress. However, if you combine locations such as a fancy restaurant and then to the movies, the couple will probably dress according to the restaurant which is more formal. Note the scruff on their shoes, their calloused hands, their sharp dress/suit. Whether if one dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and the other got all fancy.
The mannerism at a casual place tend to be more open, relaxed and inviting. The daters may be less rigid and probably are already friends. A hug or holding hands wouldn’t be uncalled for either. Because of the influence of the environment and the people/ strangers around them who are all holding hands, kissing, etc at a theme park, concert, a beach, a party, a movie theater, it is more likely the characters will feel tempted to do so themselves.
II. At a place that is formal such as a fancy restaurant or a gallery, or play, opera or classical concert, the characters are more likely to be strangers on the first date. The people/strangers around them will not be kissing per se, or holding hands because their attention would be focused on the performers or their gourmet food.
Therefore, kissing and holding hands across the table or in the booth is socially prohibited in these settings. (Not really) but the characters are MORE inclined to restrict their behavior accordingly.
III. There are ‘in-between’ formal and non-formal dates as well. Something like going to a beach or a walk along a nice place can be transferable. Meaning, the characters will usually be by themselves or secluded and can decided where they want to take the date. There would be no present social influence with how they treat each other.
I. Dialogue is useful and easy. But show how the characters act and react to their date. If the man grabs the woman’s hand does she pull away or coyly smile before accepting his offer? Is the woman the initiator and does the man reciprocate the feelings? What pace are they setting for the date? Give the reader an idea or how far they are willing to advance, if at all.
II. Is there any withdraws? Did someone leave the date due to a disagreement? Has someone went to far?! This isn’t unheard of. One person could think things are going smoothly and then the other person –-out of the blue– decides to end it right then and there. An argument can happen early on in dates but remember, there needs to be a reason they are arguing and not just “You touched my hand; I felt violated.”
Who is the lead in this date and what do they plan on doing next?
I. Unless you’re writing a story based in the 50’s, both men and women can be the lead, especially if someone is using the other person. The couple can go dutch when it comes to paying (split the bill). The woman can open the door to the restaurant for the guy or even drive to the restaurant herself. The thing that distinguished the lead from the follower, is who sets the pace.
Who is the initiator? Does the date order for their date? Weird, but it happens. Does the character take over the conversation or tells their date they don’t like something they are doing? “You are not suppose to use that fork. It’s the one to the right.” Leads do not have to be rude but sometimes if both characters are dominate you may end up with two leads which can make the dating scene very interesting. Ex:
He opened the door for her. “After you, miss,” he said with a grin.
“I can open the door myself, thank you very much,” the lady said. Then she deliberately opened the other door and walked through.
Now, please understand that two leads can be used effectively in this scene. They can either be joking with each other. My above example was of dominate two friends having a good time. The woman was being humorous with him. Although, if the characters are strangers, it can come off as being rude. This is why it’s imperative to let the reader know the relationship between the daters.
II. What is the next step for them? Does he/she ask for another date, or leave clues in the conversation behind that says “I am enjoying our time together” without actually saying it. Has the character already made up their mind that they never want to see their date again. Usually it takes 1-5 minutes to come up with an analysis of whether we like someone or not. Assuming the characters already met, they’ve established that they liked each other but something could change during the date.
If the character no longer has feelings or interest for their date, their demeanor might change. They might become less patient or rush the date. Ask for the check earlier than planned.
I. There are certain etiquettes no matter where the date is that the characters must abide by. Also, the relationship doesn’t matter either. Certain gestures and phrases need to be avoided at all cost. Here are a few things that would upset the character on a first, second or even third date:
– looking at another male or female, admiring them or even checking them out
– Texting, talking on phone
– Rolling eyes, biting in nails, digging in nose
– Slurping food, using hands to eat, burping, not tipping waiter
– Grabbing inappropriate areas of the body, saying lewd or crewed things about their date or anyone else for that matter
– being late, interrupting speaker, yawning repetitively, not making eye contact… ever
II. Will there be emergencies during the date such as a call from a loved one or the person ate something they were allergic too? How does the date handle it and is there any apologize given during or after the event? An emergency can happy around the characters, too. If someone is chocking and the date knows how to save the strangers, it could make them look good or like a hero. Note: this can also change the date scene/story rapidly and bring it into a totally different realm, so to speak.
What planned surprise are in store for the date, if any?
I. If the character or their date is wealthy they can surprise the person with a helicopter or a boat trip. Maybe a trip to someone special and far away. Yes, on a first date, especially if they already knew each other. Instead of eating at a fancy restaurant they are eating on a roof top. Forget about waiting in lines at a them park, they own the entire facility. No tickets required. See what I’m getting at?
But just because the character has all these awesome things doesn’t mean the date has to or will accept it. What would be interesting is if the date refuses to take all of these things because they want to get to know them without flashy surprise. In turn, the character may feel either offended or happy that someone finally wants to get to know them and not their money….
II. A character who isn’t so lucky to afford those luxuries can do simply, yet sweet surprises. Remember that beach date earlier? Well turn it into a picnic on the beach, with homemade apple cider/wine. Hope about that movie date? Make it a drive in under the stars. Were they going out for coffee? Ha, what about a taste test of different coffee brands and watch how it’s made at the manufacturer or company. Did they want to go on a road trip as a first date? Please, easy stuff, they can go horseback riding or hiking up beautiful mountains along the way.
III. Some situations can be out of their control. Maybe they are at a casino and won 1,000 dollars. How’s that for a surprise? The restaurant they were going is shutting down so everything on the menu is cheap. And they can take some home, too. The movie they want to watch actually has the actors signing autographs at the entrance! In reality the odds of this happening are slim. But hey, you’re the author. You are the god of your mini universe creation. Just make sure whatever you write sounds believable.
I. An ex happens to be sitting by the table next to them. It’s raining so they can’t go to the park or theme park. May also be too much snow or traffic to even drive or get to the person. With barriers like these and others, it will show how much the character wants their date. Are they willing to tread through the cold storm, bring an umbrella and still go on that walk, move to another table, ignore the ex or simple leave the restaurant?
A barrier as simple as “My dad said I can’t date you” will do. But how do they overcome it?
II. Is there signs that make the characters think they should or shouldn’t be together? A dove that was hit debris landing on the window but then comes back to life in seconds and flies away. They got into a car accident and helped each other survive. They have the same birthdays? Everywhere they walk all disaster strikes or so it seems?
How does it end. Good note or bad? Maybe one is a has high standards when it comes to romance.
I. How are they feeling? What are they thinking? What are their intentions? Is someone being shoved out of the vehicle by the end?
Examine their postures. How close are they? How and when do they move? Are there any subtle movements in their hands, eyes, and breathing patterns? Or are they holding tightly to each other, never wanting to let go. What words are exchanged or is there silence, resentment? Are they still cordial or screaming their brains out?
Examine their dialogue. Is their tone lighthearted or serious? What are they talking about? Is it straightforward or is there a hidden message behind it?
II. Have them set up another date. Or say “I don’t think we are compatible”. It’s as simple as that unless you want to give more reason. However, after writing a detailed dating scene the readers could probably catch on to why they characters aren’t.
III. Is that goodnight kissing coming or not? You can have them slowly closing the distance between them and their potential partner. This particular part really depends on the characters and how they cope with such feelings. A hug around the shoulder could mean I had a good time but I’m not that interested. Or, I don’t want to push. A kiss on the cheek means I find you adorable. A kiss on the lips doesn’t necessarily mean someone is interested. They could have kissed the person as a friendly gesture not to be rude or wouldn’t want to make the date feel bad by turning them down.