How To Write a Relationship Break Up in Romance Books

Writing a break up can be just as tricky as creating a romantic union between two characters.

In certain scenarios it can play havoc with your writer emotions and you may find yourself reaching for the tissues, raiding the chocolate cupboard and compiling a sad songs playlist.

Back in the day, before I found my loved one, I endured a few break ups. For me the pain from a romantic split is horrid / freaking torture. It can make you cry for hours and the ache inside your chest feels like someone actually tore your little heart to pieces. In some cases the pain of a break up can be debilitating and prevent you from moving on with your life for weeks, months and even years afterwards.

My worst break up was with a very handsome life guard. I had met him in a nightclub and once I found out what he did for a living…I dreaded going near a pool with him on guard. I can’t swim very well. My arms and legs rotate at an astonishing rate and I create a LOT of white froth. One look at me and my white froth powering up the swimming lane and our love would have been over.

Anyway we dated for a few months and I thought he was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. In my head we’d already married in a country church, taken a honeymoon in a stunning location, with no water, so I didn’t have to showcase my swimming abilities, and had some gorgeous children, who could all swim like dolphins.

Even though he was stunning to look at he was a man of few words. But, I was happy with limited conversation. Who needs intellectual conversations when you have a tanned, hunky life guard sat opposite you in Pizza Express?

Then he went on holiday with the lads AND he came back with some bad news. He’d met someone on a beach, a hairdresser and according to him it was love. They’d sat up all night playing…travel scrabble. I did cast doubt on his claims they’d played Travel Scrabble till all hours and did nothing ELSE as he could barely string a sentence together in a day-to-day life. *Sigh*

Anyway I cried for weeks, threw away my diary and ate a lot of mashed potato (my go to comfort food).

Here are the things I think should be considered when writing a break up:

  1. You need to get the reader hooked emotionally before the break up. Let the reader get a glimpse into their relationship. Chuck in lots of sweet moments where they are nibbling on dough balls in Pizza Express and giggling whilst playing Travel Scrabble.
  2. When it occurs one party needs to go into a state of shock. They didn’t see it coming. You need to write that stage of utter disbelief and show the shock taking hold of your character (sleepless nights, trembling, crying).
  3. Think about your character motivations for break up. Why are they breaking up? What has driven them to this point?
  4. You need to think about the denial stage. This is where one party won’t accept the heartbreak. In my case I did keep calling the life guard from the pay phone down my street. I sat waiting for him to come to his senses and I even went out and bought my own Travel Scrabble game. Your character needs to go a little crazy during this stage.
  5. It’s important to think how your character reacts to the split, both physically and mentally. Remember you have to show the upset and not tell the reader your character is upset.
  6. Remember to include the desperate information gathering stage. This is where you pester your friends, friends of friends, casual acquaintances who might have known your ex decades ago and anyone willing to listen to your troubles. During this stage all you want to know is why it happened, how it happened and any useful detail which might help your heartache.
  7. You must remember a romantic split is a process which your character must endure and there is not a straight line of travel to the other side. There are pitfalls, rebound issues, painful reminders and drunken relapses.
  8. How does the break up advance your story? Is it a major turning point in your main character’s life? You can’t just write a break up into your story because you feel like making your reader cry.
  9. How does the break up happen and who does the breaking up? Do the actions from the person bringing the relationship to a halt reflect their character? If they are a coward you might have them do it via text, email or even just running off into the sunset, never to be seen again. If they are a kind and caring soul you might find they opt to tell the other in person

My debut novel is out now. Please click here for the link.

What would you do if your late husband left you a list of instructions on how to fall in love with someone else?

Pippa Browning is faced with this exact dilemma, three years after the death of her husband, Dan.

Buried at the bottom of a drawer are a collection of notebooks full of Dan’s advice on how to live without him.

Pippa’s notebook is red and contains his instructions on how to fall in love again.

But Dan doesn’t just want Pippa to fall in love with anyone – Dan’s crazy suggestion is that Pippa should date his handsome friend, Mikey Stenton, a known thrill-seeking ladies’ man.

Reluctant to follow Dan’s advice, Pippa enters the world of dating. She embarks on a humorous journey of self-discovery, with the help of her children and two best friends.

It isn’t long before Pippa is finding it hard to ignore Dan’s instructions and Mikey Stenton.

Is Mikey really the man that everyone thinks him to be? Or was Dan right, and Mikey’s simply been misunderstood?  

An uplifting and heart-warming story about bereavement, friendship and finding love, the second time around.

Posted by

Lucy Mitchell lives in South Wales with her husband, her two teenage daughters, a giant labrador and a gang of unruly cats. Lucy is the author of the award winning blog, BlondeWriteMore and was a Featured Romance Author on Wattpad. When she’s not working or writing, Lucy can be found listening to audiobooks in a muddy field with her dog or sat outside her local pub in the sunshine enjoying a glass of wine. Her debut novel Instructions Falling In Love Again is OUT now and already pulling in some fabulous reviews ❤️

21 thoughts on “How To Write a Relationship Break Up in Romance Books

  1. Write what you know is some adage somewhere. Fascinating post Lucy. As they all are if I could pause time and comment on them all! I think the real deal is hooking the reader. Getting them emotionally invested before the break up. That and making it real. The antagonist (person breaking up) also needs a POI motive. Whether that’s written or in our heads makes to scenario solid. If, say, we have him (could be her) as a player, then maybe drop nuances into the prelude. Little snippets that have us thinking that’s a lie and wanting the protagonist to see it too, work it out, join up the dots or entirely miss it or them. So many potential ways one person might quit the other and in dialogue or actions I feel these must form part of the scene. Those clues we all look back on later…. what did I do? Did I say something wrong? Was it my fault? Why? Pouring over events looking for things… why did I say that? Idiot?

    Of course there could be the spontaneous split, but I feel those are better place on short relationships where the emotional investment by the reader is, by definition, more shallow. A deeper relationship builds more to attach to. This is where the motivation for breaking up comes in. Why does the other person want to? If we know that then we can write it better. Why in that person we see their POV as the correct thing to do. A player won’t feel guilt, a genuine person might hurt as much as out antagonist and also be in a bad place that it’s not worked out. If we know these things then the scene will come out stronger.

    Obviously that’s just my humble view…. and could be rambled on for ages thinking about it 🤔

  2. A most interesting article. I have never had a break up like this and would battle to write it convincingly. Illness or trauma to a child though, I can write reams about that and cry rivers while I do so.

  3. Awesome. I loved “Forever” when I was younger too, I was (am) a huge Jude Blume fan! That book always stuck with me too, as I was (am) a hopeless romantic myself 🙂

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