Full disclosure: I don’t read romance. So it may seem strange for me to offer advice on writing stories about Valentine’s Day. But if you think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday that honors all kinds of loving relationships, then the day offers much more inspiration for stories.
I discovered this when I wrote my first mystery novel A Shadow on the Snow. The story is set in rural Ohio from the end of January to the end of March. In the middle, I planned a suspenseful chase through a snowstorm. My main character Rae has been doubting the strength of her new relationship with her newly-found father. I realized Valentine’s Day was the perfect day for her to come to grips with these doubts. And I could set my snowstorm chase then because in Ohio, we get all kinds of wild, wintery weather in February.
Below are some suggestions from past posts for writing about Valentine’s Day, either in romantic or non-romantic relationships.
New Love/Old Love: An elderly, married couple help an engaged or newlywed couple having troubles on Valentine’s Day. For the elderly couple to have more impact on the younger one, I think they shouldn’t be related. The couples can be neighbors. The two very different milestones in theses couples’ lives offer great contrast for storytelling.
Bittersweet: Write a story following a widower or widow experiencing his or her first Valentine’s Day since the death of the spouse.
Humorous: Write about a married couple trying to enjoy a romantic date night and being constantly frustrated with interruptions.
Bad Valentine’s Day: If you really want to stand Valentine’s Day on its head, have a couple break up on Valentine’s Day. That sounds so sad, I’m almost sorry I suggested it. But if the break up kicks off the story, then the uncouple have a chance to find new relationships or become reconciled.
Stepparents: A Valentine’s Day story could center on a child coming to some kind of friendly relationship with a stepparent. The child could actually be a child, or a teen, or a middle-aged adult who isn’t sure what to make of a widowed parent’s new spouse.
Grandparents: Explore the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild. Or to give the story a better twist, a great-grandparent and great-grandchild. It could be a simple story of the two characters enjoying each other’s company. Or maybe a deeper one in which the grandparent realizes the grandchild has a serious problem and needs to communicate that to the parents.
How about you? When it comes to writing about Valentine’s Day, what advice can you give?