How to Write Swoon

Because I’m highly predictable and like to repeat myself, this is apparently the second post about what makes romances swoonworthy I’ve written for PubCrawl. (Oops!) And I’m uncreative to boot, as I tied that post to Valentine’s Day as well. Ah well, I’m going to blame this one on post-release brain farts.

Anyway, I don’t mind talking about swoonworthy romances again because, to be honest, it’s a topic I like discussing. I am, at heart, a rabid shipper in all of my fandoms, so obviously I’m a huge sucker for Romantic Feelings. The last time I brought up this topic, I talked about romances I liked to read, but I was also thinking about romances I like to write.

It’s funny, the romance I like to read and write is not the romance I wrote in Wintersong. I’m a sucker for the slow burn, for the safe romantic interest, for the uncomplicated unfolding of feelings. In all honesty, I’m not a fan of the Sturm und Drang style of angst (although it is a lot more fun to write!); I tend to follow the British drama mold of Repress! Repress! Repress! Give me smoldering glances over passionate outbursts any day. Yet when it came to the writing of my book, that sort of love story didn’t quite fit the emotional journey of my protagonist, so I didn’t quite get to write what I wanted (but I will some day)!

Rereading some of my favorite books for swoonworthy moments, I think I’ve come to a conclusion about what I think makes a romance work for me. It has less to do with tropes than how attraction is written.

I’m not someone who finds physical descriptions all that appealing (again…ironic, considering the romance I wrote *upside down smiley face*). Someone being described as physically appealing is less interesting to me than how a character reacts physically to someone to whom they’re attracted (sexually or not).

Let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. A character’s awareness of their surroundings plays into how they perceive the world, and their awareness of another person’s proximity and actions plays into how relationships are built and developed. For example, I wrote pages upon pages upon pages in my middle school journal detailing just how my crush stood, what they were doing, how every since one of our interactions were mundane, yet significant (to me). Even if we were in class, if we were working on a project, or somehow engaged in other activities that did not involve the other, my awareness of my crush never went away, as though I had possessed invisible antennae that were continually tuned to their existence.

It’s that minute, almost subconscious awareness of another’s actions that stands out to me when I’m reading a romance. This is where my shipper tendencies come forward; I am primed to look for these small, yet oh-so-significant interactions. There’s a scene in a pretty well-known kdrama, Autumn Fairytale, where the two leads are sitting back to back on a windowsill, cleaning the windowpanes. Their free hands are resting on the sill beside them, barely brushing the other’s.

Then one of them moves his pinky finger just a little closer, so that they touch. Just slightly. Just a little.

Excuse me while I swoon.

What about you? What do you think makes a good swoonworthy romance in execution? Let us know in the comments!

2 Responses to How to Write Swoon

  1. Rosalyn Feb 13 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    This line made me laugh: “I tend to follow the British drama mold of Repress! Repress! Repress! Give me smoldering glances over passionate outbursts any day.” I am right there with you–Give me North and South or any of the BBC period dramas and I’m a happy woman.

  2. Idris Feb 13 2017 at 8:22 pm #

    This post is me in a nutshell. I’m all about that repression with the smoldering glances. Blame Colin Firth for making it work. It set the tone for my favorite romances forever.

    This line: Someone being described as physically appealing is less interesting to me than how a character reacts physically to someone to whom they’re attracted (sexually or not).

    Dead on. It’s not just enough to be told that character is good-looking. How does their love interest (or love interests) feel about that?

    Great post.

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