• Cattleya

The Art of Love—Writing Romance Without Making It Sound Too Corny

heart between books pages

He stared at the girl he’d known for years walking down the aisle, feeling shaken at his reaction. The fluttering in the pit of his stomach amplified. Happiness enveloped him; his smile grew a mile wide.

The same idiot—who had watched him play in mud when they were three after his mother had just bathed him, and had promptly joined in so he wouldn’t get in trouble—was getting married. To him!

As she came near, their eyes met. He felt his ears pop, almost as if he was tuning everything out, the disastrous venue, the burn mark on his coat.

He could notice everything about her, though, her slight breathing, her big doe eyes widening as she controlled her happy tears. She looked breathtakingly beautiful in her mother’s wedding dress. Sure, he’d seen her prance around in dresses many times. But right now, she looked heaven-sent. And despite all, she was.

When it comes to writing romance, there is a fine line between genuine, heartfelt love and cheap drivel. A writer knows where that line is.

When writing romance, you can’t afford to be gushingly sentimental about the situation. And by that, we mean you can’t be cheap. Yes, love requires sentiment and dialogue that tugs at your heartstrings. But imagine the scenario described above, only with no back story or details at all. No idea about their connection.

Boy and girl getting married. Both love each other. The end!

Not so appealing, is it?

Building three-dimensional characters is the foundation of any romantic story; otherwise, it is like robots falling for the instant-love trope. Putting characters in realistic, relatable settings, that is what it is all about. You want your readers to connect to the characters, and thus feel truly happy when their character falls in love.

Can Love be Love, If It Can’t be Corny?

It depends on your book as much as your readers. You may not write a single sentimental dialogue, but something will sound corny to your readers. And that is because you were not clear about your book’s genre.

You can go down the schmaltzy love rabbit hole if that is what the story warrants. But, it depends on how your characters are and what the story entails. For example, with my book The Black Shade of White: Justice, I balance romance while staying true to my original genre: Fiction and Fantasy Books. It is a fantasy and paranormal novel, after all. So, if I use flowery, corny language, it will not suit the book’s theme.

But, if your book is pure romance and requires such phrases, a little bit of corny language is permissible. However, if you do not want to go overboard, here is my tip on what you can do: avoid corny phrasing by staying true to the actual sentiment.

Realistically speaking, time does not stop, people do not stop talking, and the world does not disappear when you fall in love. But, it does feel that way. So, without adding fireworks and wedding bells to the mix, write your prose this way:

Even with everything that happened that night, he was the only good thing I could remember. It wasn’t our conversation, the food, or anything in particular, but knowing I met him that night, made it one of the more memorable nights of my life.

Is this a bit corny? Maybe!

But, if you have ever fallen in love, or had had a crush, you will relate with the sentiment and one used by all great romantic suspense writers. And that is what writing romance is all about.

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