The Writer’s Toolbox – Dear Lover

Chocolates? Check. Sentimental card? Check. Personal note slipped into the card, under your partner’s pillow, or next to the coffeemaker? Uh?wait, what?

The love letter has become a thing of the past, but romantic writing is nowhere near dead. In fact, no longer limited to Hallmark cards, romantic comedies, and Harlequin novels, romantic writing and love scenes are cropping up in genres from young adult to mystery to thriller to literary fiction. This week’s Toolbox examines some general principles of good romance writing and offers tips on how to create your own little piece of romantic literature?to be seen by his or her eyes only.

Remember your audience

Authors are constantly reminded to remember their audience, and That’s especially true when it comes to romantic imagery. What’s the audience’s comfort zone (or crack-up zone)? How does that romantic scene fit with the genre and the story? When You’re writing a love letter, always keep in mind that your audience is someone you know and love. You’re writing to show that person how much he or she means to you. don’t write the letter That’s right for a vast audience or for the typical moviegoer?write the letter That’s right for your partner.

Follow your characters

Even during love scenes, characters need to stay true to their natures. Similarly, your love letter should reflect your relationship chemistry. What makes you as a couple tick? What’s your ?thing?? don’t try too hard to be a Hallmark card; don’t stress out if gushy isn’t characteristic of your relationship. Stay in character and you’ll create something That’s much more heartfelt and genuine.

Show how you feel

One romance writer offers this tip: ?When writing your love scenes . . . [focus on] the emotions of your characters. When it comes to love, it’s all about what your characters are feeling.? Ditto with love letters, though with one twist?you are one of the characters. don’t be afraid to show how you feel.

Go with the flow

Scared that when you try to tap into emotion you’ll cross the line into cheesy? One romance author advises writers to ?get rid of your inner judgment . . . once you’ve got those words you can go back and edit them and polish them.? While You’re not necessarily going to go back and polish, It’s great advice for love letter writers. Suspend your self-critic and write from the heart.

Reading this after the 14th? The sentiment doesn’t need to be packed away with the heart decorations and red ribbons on February 15. Take the opportunity to write your partner a love letter outside of the Valentine’s season. You might find the everyday offers a lot less performance anxiety?and a lot more inspiration.

Christina M. Frey is a book editor and a lover of great writing. Chat with her on Twitter about all things literary @turntopage2.