romance scenes

Tips for Writing Romantic Scenes that Aren’t Cliche?


Dear Editor…

The romantic parts in my YA novel are hard to write. They sound corny and feel cliche. Help?!

Elle S.


Dear Elle…

It’s tough to write the kissie stuff in a fresh way. And with the intense close-up on bodies and words, the burden of conveying the emotion can fall on the dialogue, making it sound hammy. Step back and look around your characters. The props in your setting can freshen up the scene with subtext. Subtext refers to what’s going on behind the spoken words and the obvious action. Subtext adds depth to a scene, undermining, contradicting, or reinforcing what’s being said. Imagine a scene where the couple makes out on a couch that the boy’s mean mom loves, making the girl struggle to push away images of his mom. This is great subtext for young lovers sneaking around behind parents’ backs. Or move them to his bed where a pillow sewed by his ex-girlfriend rests. You can almost write that scene around the pillow and all its significance. Settings and props particular to your couple’s history avoid cliché, and subtext liberates your dialogue.

Happy writing!
The Editor