Seeking original story ideas romance hasn’t done to death? Try these 7 approaches to finding romance story inspiration:
1. Search romantic words in Google News
News articles are often great sources of inspiration. They may supply character ideas or else the basic contours of a story idea you can adapt and alter to make your own.
In Google News, search romance-related words such as:
A simple search for the word ‘couple’, for example, returned news articles including:
- A South African couple who spent R75 (ZAR) on their wedding ($4.9)
- A couple in Pennsylvania who faked a pregnancy, birth and death of a child for money using a life-like doll
- A couple who met at the legendary music festival Woodstock celebrating their 50th anniversary
Each of these could provide inspiration for a great love story.
For example, a story about a couple who struggle financially but through ingenuity throw an incredible wedding regardless. Or a darker story about two lovers who encourage each other’s criminal tendencies. Or a story about a couple who meet at an iconic historical cultural event.
2. Read about famous lovers
There are fascinating romantic couples throughout literature and history, from Anthony and Cleopatra to Johnny Cash and June Carter.
Reading accounts of these famous romances is a great way to find story ideas romance readers have found intriguing through the ages.
Keep an eye out for details you could spin into your own story. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, the lovers’ feuding families stand in the way of their union.
You could write your own contemporary romance about suburban feuding families whose hostility towards each other is complicated when the eldest children of each family fall in love.
3. Ask about others’ romantic experiences
Many people love to discuss their romantic experiences. Speak to people in your life – particularly the elderly who have more life experience – about their experiences of love. Having conversations about romance can reveal surprising details.
For example, a friend’s grandfathers were both engineers in World War II. It turned out his maternal grandfather was his paternal grandfather’s commanding officer, long before either of his parents were born.
Strange happenstance such as this can feel like fate. A simple anecdote like this could inspire an epic historical romance tracing generations’ romantic pairings from the early 20th Century to the present day.
4. Listen to love songs
The famous line that opens Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, ‘If music be the food of love, play on’ reminds us of how intertwined romance and music are.
For example, this line from Kacey Musgraves’ ‘Butterflies’ could inspire a story about a romance between would-be rivals for a kingdom:
Now you’re lifting me up, instead of holding me down/stealing my heart instead of stealing my crown.
5. Browse romantic artworks
Romantic imagery is another useful source of inspiration. Story ideas romance has covered are well-represented in art (in images of Cinderella-like balls and such). Yet there are plenty of more abstract representations of romantic scenes, too.
As an exercise, take a romantic image such as this image of a table set for two by Guido Borelli. Then write a scene where we meet two lovers on holiday who sit down here. What do they say? Who are they? What do they want? What are their fears and desires?
6. Use creative writing prompts
Romantic writing prompts may help you to find a romance story idea that is all your own. Of course, the issue with generic romance-themed prompts is that they may rely on clichés.
Try the free section of Now Novel’s outlining tool, ‘Central idea’. This walks you through brainstorming subjects that fascinate you (e.g. ‘Romance in 1920s America’) and combining them in creative ways to come up with your own original romance idea.
7. Start from character profiles
Creating character profiles is a great way to begin writing a romance with something concrete.
Try to imagine each individual within a romantic couple in full. What is each person’s personality like? What do they desire, and what do they fear? How do their faults, shortcomings and quirks interact? How do these elements play together? Is it a combustive combination or a harmonious one?
Great romance stories are driven by intriguing characters, such as the stifled Anna Karenina and impassioned cavalry officer with whom she has an affair, Alexei Vronsky, in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
Need help developing your characters and story? Join Now Novel for peer feedback, story building tools and more.