Love vs. Romance & February Writing Prompts

Heart Knocks CoverIt’s February, which means hearts and flowers all over the place, whether you’re into that sort of thing or not. It also generally means that if you’re in love, you’re thinking about Valentine’s Day and whether or not to celebrate, based on your personal preference. If you’re not in love, you’re probably looking at everyone else with a mixture of contempt and for some, maybe that’s mixed with a teensy bit of jealousy. Especially if you’re in love with someone who’s in love with someone else, or otherwise unable to be with the one you love.

Regardless, love almost always means conflict of some sort, which is why it makes such a great topic to read and write about.

Then there’s romance. Romance is what happens when we’re falling in love, as well as when we’re in the thick of it. Romance is that dramatic, heart-pounding place that we love and hate and dread and anticipate, often all at the same time, because it’s exhilarating and exhausting and for many of us, it makes us feel more alive than just about anything else. Romance can be actions, or words, or any number of little things that tell us someone else is attracted to and/or thinking about us, or it can be a grand gesture that declares that attraction to the world. It’s that intricate dance between two people trying to navigate feelings and decide whether it’s love, or just lust, and where to go once the determination is made.

Those of us who read and/or write romance experience those feelings over and over again, through the stories we immerse ourselves in, and the characters we fall in love with over and over again. It keeps those feelings fresh, even when the romance in our own lives might not be quite so new and dramatic.

I was thinking about love and indirect, romantic ways of expressing love while I was watching TV this weekend. I’ve always been a huge sucker for Wesley’s way of telling Buttercup he loved her in The Princess Bride, by responding to her requests with “As you wish.” Those three words, even moreso than “I Love You”, make my heart skip a beat every time I hear them. There’s so much more meaning there than a direct declaration. And the same with the now-cliche (sadly), “You complete me.” In the Jill Shalvis book I just finished (Chasing Christmas Eve, is the title, I think), there’s another great indirect declaration that is so romantic it just makes me swoon (I won’t put it here in case you want to go read it for yourself in context).

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a romance – I had to take a break for awhile and get my head out of those emotions for various reasons, but I’m working on a couple of short romances now that I want to remember this for. I want my characters to experience the same “swoon” I get when I hear one of those oh-so-personal indirect declarations, and I want readers to experience that too.

Think of how you’d like someone to indirectly declare their love for you. Would it be a certain phrase? A certain action? A combination of the two? What romantic phrase or gesture would make your heart swoon in return? Have you read any books with a good swoon-worthy declaration lately?

Monthly Writing Prompts:

  • Prose Prompt: Write a story about something quirky a character does only on rainy afternoons.
  • Poetry Prompt: Write a poem about rain, water-based or otherwise.

Stories and poems for each month should be submitted by the last day of that month to The following month, one poem and one story from the previous month will be chosen for publication here on the blog, and also in our monthly newsletter. Authors will receive a flat fee of $10 per poem or story we choose to publish. Items submitted must be original, unpublished works, however we only ask for non-exclusive rights to post the work here on our blog for one year, and in one monthly newsletter.