I’m not a fan of red around this time of year.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and by this time every year I become disgusted with the heart shaped boxes and the stuffed animals. But as a writer, this is a great time of year. The stories write themselves. Love is the single most reason that characters do what they do. Even the other motivators like greed (i.e. the love of money) have its roots in love. First love, love at first sight, love gone wrong — all of these themes are great building blocks for epic stories.
So here are seven love themes for the writer needing to get some writing done between the candy and flowers.
First love/ puppy love
This is probably one of the most common love themes to write about. Think of your first crush, that feeling of mushiness when you saw him or her. Remember how you would smile and butterflies tumbled around in your stomach? What makes this so popular is that that feeling is universal. Every person, every culture, every language understands this feeling.
Love at first sight, aka boy meets girl
Just about the same thing as puppy love but more mature. This is when the couple sees each other across a crowded room and something sparks. It can be a cliche but there are things that writers can do to make the cliche less, well, cliche. Change the setting, the circumstances. Change the characters. Writers can have lots of fun with this, they just have to be creative.
Boy meets girl but girl loves another boy or girl.
Ahh, the love triangle. The vortex of angst for every teenage poet. But it’s still good stuff. Jane Austen built a career on it. Again, the feeling that comes from this is universal and because it is, it can also be a cliche. How to avoid the cliche? Make the triangle into a square or a pentagon.
I love you but you’re crazy
This has to be my favorite one. A cross between Fatal Attraction
and well, anything else. The protagonist is in love with Character X but they are one card short of a full deck in someway. It could be dangerous crazy (again Fatal Attraction) or they could be funny crazy. I like this love theme because it already has built in conflict and hasn’t been done nearly as often as the others to be a complete cliche. It’s also the most flexible.
I don’t love you at all so stop calling me.
This is the other side of Fatal Attraction, when one side of the relationship wants to break ties with the other. This has to be my least favorite because there really is only one way do can go with this
I use to love you but now I want you dead (or hurt in someway)
The ultimate in you-done-me-wrong plots. Boy meets girl. Couple falls in love. Something happens. Chaos ensues. The typical thought with this is that it ends in tragedy. But does it always have to end that way? My challenge to everyone is to write about this aspect of love where it doesn’t end in the typical way.
By far the more difficult thing I’ve had to write is two characters honestly falling in love in a way that wasn’t sappy but endearing. I’ve used as examples Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera
and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
. (actually Anna K could work for the I love you but you’re crazy category.) What’s the best way to handle this? I haven’t yet discovered it but what I can say that as a writer, you have to come to those true love scene with a pure heart and a sense of wonderment.
These seven love themes can be inserted into any story. It’s up to the writer to decide how best to use these. Are there any that I may have missed?