Writing About Love in a Way That Rings True
Writing about love can be tricky.
Love is universal. It’s something almost all of us can identify with, in one way or another, and that’s probably the thing that makes it the hardest to capture. It’s extremely easy to spot love that doesn’t ring true in a story, which is why I’ve spent some time looking at what other writers do when writing about love.
What does love look like in your story world?
To get yourself ready to write about how love looks, I recommend watching a few scenes between your favourite characters in love, specifically in a television show or movie. After all, shows and movies do the best “showing” because telling doesn’t make for great viewing. Consider how the characters who are in love act, react, speak to each other, touch, etc.
What kind of love are your characters experiencing?
There are many kinds of love, from friendship to passion, unrequited to consummate love, and everything in between. Knowing the kind of love you intend for your characters will help you understand how that love will work as part of your plot and play out for them.
How do your characters respond to love?
You should already know a fair bit about your characters, so flesh out their romantic personalities as well. Will your character be the jealous type, the possessive type, or the type who becomes so fully engrossed in their relationship that they forget about everyone and everything else outside of it? And how does their love interest or partner react to this?
Show, don’t tell
It might be advice that borders on cliché, but it’s still a fundamental truth. You need to show love to your readers, not just tell them about it.
Telling your audience about a character’s love might be effective in conveying the basic facts, but it won’t really bring them into the story. Instead of telling them how two people feel, show them. Describe the way they look at each other, the way they touch, and the way they talk. Let your readers become immersed in the story and experience the emotions and feelings of the characters on their own.
People can be flawed and imperfect, but still love each other unconditionally. Showing those flaws and imperfections can be a powerful way to portray the depth of the emotion. Combining expressions of love with your characters’ personalities can be a great way to really draw your readers in, and keep them invested.
Make your characters relatable
Readers can more easily connect with characters if they can relate to them in some way. Show how your characters’ love is like the love everyone experiences in their own lives. Showing the ups and downs. The happiness, tension, drama, and passion. A perfect relationship doesn’t exist, so showing every facet of love helps keep things real.
Love stories are about growth and transformation. Give your characters an arc so that their love story can show how they grow and change over time. Showing how two people’s love can take them on a journey of self-discovery can be a great way to draw in your readers, and help them relate in a deep and meaningful way.
Examples of love in TV, film, and literature
When it comes to writing about love, you must have an understanding of how love looks. These are some favourite love stories or loving relationships from TV, film, and literature from which I’ve drawn inspiration:
- Damon and Elena – The Vampire Diaries (TV)
- Claire and Jamie – Outlander (book)
- Fergus and Marsali – A Breath of Snow and Ashes (book)
- Roger and Bree – An Echo in the Bone (book)
- Charles and Caroline – Little House on the Prairie (TV)
- Cath and Levi – Fangirl (book)
- Simon and Baz – Carry On (book)
These are just a few of the love stories that have serve as inspiration for me. While YA books typically depict new love, I usually enjoy reading about lasting or lifelong love to get a better idea about how love looks in a story. After all, new love is really only a short period of time and anything after that is established love and has different rules.
Here for the Sex
For those of you who opened this article hoping to learn more about how to write sex, which is different from writing about love but definitely included, I highly recommend I Give You My Body: How I Write Sex Scenes by Diana Gabaldon.
Diana Gabaldon is the author of the Outlander series and an absolute master of capturing the nuances and realities of lifelong love. Spoiler alert, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, but there’s plenty of love and passion.
Need more inspiration?
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