I have a confession to make: I do not like most chick flics.
It's not that I'm unromantic-- it's actually the opposite. I feel like so many romantic movies are so full of tropes and stock characters that they kill the romance. This actually makes me extremely wary writing my own romantic scenes. I'm always terrified I'm going to fall into the sappy trap, and squash the real romance.
One of my favorite romantic scenes in any book or movie is in the movie The Village. You've got your painfully shy Lucius and your outspoken Ivy, who are in love but haven't admitted it to each other yet. There's just been a dangerous and frightening moment in the village, and Ivy wakes up to find Lucius on her porch. They sit and talk, but it's not particularly poetic-- they don't even touch. Then, Ivy, being her outspoken self, asks Lucius about their future wedding, which shocks him into finally saying what he's never been able to-- that he loves her.
Go watch the scene. I'm not kidding, you'll swoon over it. And why? Let's take a look at some things this scene did right.
The setting is unique
It's not a bedroom. It's not raining. It's not on a bridge. It's freezing cold, it's night, and it's on an uncomfortable front porch. Okay, so maybe it's a little cliche. But the fact that Lucius is sitting there, despite the potential danger from the "creatures," to protect Ivy-- well, that's romantic. And it's not the type of scene you'd expect to be romantic, but it is for just that reason.
The characters do not act outside their character
In fact, they act decidedly within their character. The unique blend and contrast of Lucius and Ivy's characters and how they interact makes this scene memorable. Lucius doesn't suddenly break out into poetic confessions of love. Which brings us to point three.
The characters don't break into poetic confessions of love
Okay, well, Lucius does actually make a confession of love. And I suppose you could even call it poetic. BUT. Let's look at what he didn't say. "I have loved you since before I could remember." "I can't take one more minute without telling you how much I love you." In fact, he didn't even use the words "I love you." In fact, the very thing that makes his words romantic is the fact that they are his. Even their delivery-- his frustration and agitation behind his love-- makes them better. Which brings us to the next point.
There are more emotions at work than just romance
Lucius and Ivy aren't wrapped in a rapturous romantic moment. There are a myriad of other emotions here. There's the fear of the attack that happened earlier that night, and Lucius's frustration and even irritation. There's Ivy's surprise when Lucius begins talking. And all of these emotions are inspired in the audience-- that's the key. In fact, the audience even feels an additional emotion-- amusement. Maybe it's just me, but I found Ivy's "will you dance with me on our wedding night" very funny. All of these additional emotions add realism, and even enhance the romance.
There is more focus on the relationship, and less on physical love
Now, don't get me wrong with this one. I'm not saying your characters shouldn't kiss or hold hands or even touch. They should do those things! But not every romantic scene needs to focus on them. Romantic tension is built in the scene from The Village precisely because the characters aren't touching-- but they want to. The scene is about the characters focusing on their relationship, which includes physical love but isn't limited to it.
So, my friends, now I want to know. What are some of your favorite romantic scenes in books or movies? What are some things you do to make your romantic scenes unique and memorable?