I just wrote a scene in The Wastes where the hero and heroine have to make a difficult good-bye. My inner debate began when I had to decide how they'd each say goodbye to her as she left on a mission she may not come back from. And that led me to thinking about just how important those non-sexual touches can be, especially in a romance.
The value of contact can't be ignored, especially in tense emotional scenes. As Mad Dog, Jenks, Tane, and James make their goodbyes to Talia, each uses a different form of physical contact to get their point across. Cade, on the other hand, avoids that contact.
It's not just an arbitrary choice for me. I realize that some writers may choose to have this be the big moment when he makes a passionate overture or does something that will leave her memory lingering on his touch as she disappears into the night. But I believe that sometimes there is more power in restraint.
One of my all time favorite films is M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. One of the most beautiful and heartbreaking parts of the film is the attention drawn to touch, even the most platonic kind. Both Edward Walker and Lucius Hunt channel immense restraint to not touch those they love.
In Edward's case, it's an admirable decision since he is happily married and unwilling to risk the temptation which could be caused by touching another woman he cares for deeply.
Lucius fights his feelings for Ivy for the first half of the film. The moment when their hands meet is one of the most emotional scenes from the entire film and I get goosebumps every time I watch it.
If you want to see a lovely, gentle romance play out on screen, watch this movie. Forget the suspense, forget the plot twists, watch it for the romance alone.
I hope that I can do Cade's emotions justice through use of this kind of restraint. I have to try.