You thought this post was going to be about writing sex scenes didn’t you? ;-) Sorry, but I’m talking about passion in the larger sense as defined by the Mac dictionary: strong and barely controllable emotion.
What are you passionate about? Global warming? U.S. involvement in the Middle East? Sea turtles? Education? Adoption? Animals? School arts programs? Immigration?
Pick your passion—no matter what side of the fence you’re on—and find a way to write about it. I don’t mean a position paper or a letter to your editor, though you could. I mean imbue your character with that passion and build a story around it. Or structure or book or series around a group that fights for or against your cause. In researching opposing viewpoints, you might even see the subject in a new light, and it should be easy to make the sparks fly between your characters if they’re on opposite sides of an issue.
Laura Griffin’s Tracers series features a forensics lab that’s dedicated to processing all crime scene evidence and helping law enforcement catch violent criminals. She came up with the idea after she found out that much forensic evidence is never processed or entered into a crime database. She took her frustration and created a fictional group with the passion to make it happen.
The late Michael Crichton made a fortune writing books about what could go wrong with the research he read about in scientific journals. Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Prey hit a cord with readers because he took a stand on a topic and built a story around it.
Robin Cook did the same thing for medical topics. Just try to eat a fast-food hamburger after reading Toxin. I dare you.
If emotion is the key to memorable characters and keeper-shelf books, then by writing about a topic that gets you emotional, you might just find that all-important element easier to write. And an interesting topic makes the research more fun.
So, figure out what shocks, angers, or delights you, and build a story around it. You might even teach your readers something, and get them passionate too. Good luck!