A Literary Guide for Crafting Your Romance

In my humble opinion, winter is the one time of year when it’s actually romantic to be single. There are so many delightful solo activities to enjoy in the wintertime. For example, (1) cradling a mug of tea and staring mournfully out of a window, (2) taking long, listless walks in a snowy wood while you ponder your life’s purpose, (3) beginning to bake cookies and then realizing that the process is actually much more labor intensive than you initially realized so you just decide to eat the entire batch of raw dough. 

However, I also understand that, as winter winds to a close and hearts begin to thaw, the looming approach of Valentine’s Day can be an intimidating call to action. My love life may be a barren wasteland, but if there’s one thing I know well and have studied with undying fervor, it’s romantic novels. I suppose you could consider me love’s most passionate, inexperienced scholar. And as a scholar, it’s my duty to share my research with the world in order to bring love to the masses. So here you go!

Enemies to Lovers
You have to have a strong constitution for this one, but it’s one of the best. There’s something so satisfying about feeling the full spectrum of human emotion towards someone and finally landing on love. Think of Elizabeth Bennet and Mister Darcy. To achieve a timeless enemies-to-lovers dynamic, try out one of the simple steps below.

  • Try to buy out someone’s ranch/farm/bakery/church to turn it into a resort or shopping mall. Chances are, they won’t like this, and it will spark lots of heated banter and lingering glares.  
  • Have a failed fling, and reconnect 5-10 years later. 
  • Live in a small town where both of your families have rival pizzerias or vineyards.
  • Compete for the same highly coveted position/promotion. 
  • Enter an arranged marriage/fake relationship

Forced Proximity
This one might be a little difficult to arrange, but if you plan ahead, I’m confident you can make it work. To give a little definition, forced proximity would entail a situation in which you and your love interest are trapped/stranded/forced to work together for an extended period of time within a contained setting. Prime locations and scenarios in which to force proximity between yourself and a prospective lover include the following:

  • A chaotic road trip 
  • A destination wedding
  • A high-stakes heist 
  • An elaborate vacation

Friends to Lovers
I’ve always been a passionate advocate for ruining “the friendship.” Don’t get me wrong, I know the whole friends-to-lovers pipeline can be intimidating, but if it works, it will be worth it. The beautiful thing about friends-to-lovers is that it often happens organically. The not-so-beautiful thing about it is that if it goes badly, I guarantee the friendship will never recover. For literary context, think of Emma Woodhouse and Mister Knightly in Jane Austen’s Emma. If you decide you’re feeling gutsy, follow these steps and hope the stars align. 

  • Aim for transitional periods of life: graduations, job promotions, mid-life crises and international moves are all good options.  
  • Sneak in as many lingering glances, hugs and shoulder pats as you can.
  • Do random unnecessarily cinematic activities together, like stargazing on a roof, taking long drives with the windows down or jumping into a lake at night.

Slow Burn
Slow burn romances are not for those who enjoy instant gratification, so proceed with caution. However, if you’re looking for something that’s low maintenance and only requires your attention every few months, this may be right up your alley. True love takes time, and the beauty of a slow burn is that it notoriously leads to a thorough, well-developed love. For example, in Sense and Sensibility, Eleanor and Edward’s love story takes years to blossom. If you’re looking for some tantalizing will they, won’t they action, these steps are sure to help you on your way.

  • Never, for any reason, admit your true feelings. Even if the perfect opportunity presents itself, let everything simmer inside of you in an emotional stew. 
  • Wistful glances are key, especially when accompanied by meaningful silence. 
  • Miscommunication is also a highly important factor. Strike a perfect balance by sending mixed signals, saying things you don’t mean and holding onto your pride with your life, even if it means risking your happiness.

There are so many diverse ways to find love, and the beauty of every love story is that they are intricately different. As an official love expert with no personal experience, I encourage you to take chances and seek out love with ferocity, courage and hope. And if at the end of the day, you’re left empty-handed, just remember that love often finds you when you’re least expecting it… at least that’s what all the stories say.