The focus on two people in a relationship, the barriers they meet and overcome, and a happily ever after ending (HEA) characterize the genre of romance. We often think of covers that portray women trussed up in bodices in impossible positions to intertwine limbs and lips with bare-chested men that all seem to look like Fabio. It’s easy to poke fun at romance, yet it’s the number one selling genre. We all yearn for love stories.
This week, writers took the challenge to hone their writing skills, emphasizing emotional connection and relationship development. They wrote romance in miniature.
The following are based on the November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance.
PART I (10-minute read)
Romance Outline by Ann Edall-Robson
“Write a romance. Focus on a relationship.” She instructed.
“Not my genre!” I screamed back at the screen.
“Try writing what you know.” Came the silent words from the picture on the desk.
“I know the West and crusty old cowboys!” I countered to the voice in my head.
I could hear him laughing.
“Oh, what the hell, it won’t hurt to write an outline…”
Young hearts in love…Separated by fate…Reunited by a chance call…Devoted to each other…Ripped apart by life…
“Keep going hon. You got this.”
“I’m not ready yet,” I whispered through tears.
The Queen’s Secret by Nicole Horlings
The peace negotiations had just concluded for the evening when her court advisor entered the room. “The riders have returned. They cannot find a trace of your hus—the former king.”
“Continue the search. We must comply with the treaties and officially banish him. Even if his actions were for valid reasons,” she added bitterly.
“He must be hiding somewhere.”
“I’ve told you every place I can think of.”
The advisor looked suspicious, but left.
She pressed on a stone behind her throne, opening a secret passageway. “We’ll keep them fooled for as long as we can, my love.”
The Barriers To Love by Geoff Le Pard
Dorinda knew falling for someone rendered inert by illness made no sense. She sat and learned about his unremarkable life, loving him for it. Talking and singing, she attended his needs. She couldn’t explain her curious infatuation but it fulfilled her in ways beyond logic. She heard the prognosis, knew it hopeless but alongside his inevitable decline her love grew, albeit wrapped in an ineffable sadness and guilt that he couldn’t know how she felt about him.
Locked-in, Thomas didn’t know this angel who stroked his hand, wet his lips and cared but he loved her all the same.
The Proposal by Iain Kelly
They had been friends since the first day of school.
Archie knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
Tomorrow he left for University, leaving home and starting a new life in a new city.
He knew Agnes was staying at home with her parents. Would she wait for him to return?
She arrived late as he stood freezing outside the cinema.
The cheap ring burned a hole in his pocket. Flustered, he pulled it out and looked into her eyes with a pleading hope.
She smiled and took his arm in hers, ‘About time.’
Meg and Ian Flash Fiction by Susan Zutautas
Meg, in a daze, was reminiscing about the first time Ian said, “I love you,” She got butterflies, felt intoxicated, and for the first time in her life without a doubt knew he was the one.
Not being able to sleep Meg got up, put on coffee, and ran a hot bath for herself. In ten hours, her life was about to change. Passionate love filled her heart.
Getting dressed, Meg heard her father’s voice and then a light tap at the door. “Come on Hun, I need to get you to the church on time. Are you ready?”
Romance by Donna Matthews
Is romance a thing after 25 years of marriage? These and other critical thoughts haunted her as she perused Pinterest for anniversary dinner ideas. Candlelight, chocolate, diamonds, and whispers in the dark. But what if you’re not that kind of gal, she pondered and fretted? What if, instead of diamonds, your idea of rocks are those you climb over. Instead of the glow of candlelight, you prefer the twinkle of starlight — a roaring campfire over indoor heating. Tempted to make reservations at the swanky new restaurant in town she instead booked a flight. For two. A new adventure.
An Old Romance by Liz Husebye Hartmann
She rinsed the last dish and set it in the drainer. Days had again grown short, this season and over the years. The leaves, crisp from a day’s rain and evening’s temps, were barely visible out the window. Her silhouette softened in its reflection; the living room light glowed orange behind her.
They snuggled, one inside the other’s arms, enraptured by Melmed and LaMarche’s “The Rainbabies.” It had been a favorite of theirs and she remembered how they’d read to each other, before children, then after, and now again with this grandchild.
A wave of love washed over her.
Romantic Gestures by Sally Cronin
For sixty years red roses, hearts and grand gestures had been his way of showing how much he loved her. Now as he sat beside her hospital bed he was at a loss. He desperately wanted to make her last moments as love filled as possible; but grand gestures were of no use now. She stirred and turned her head to look at him, attempting to speak. He leant closer to her and heard the words ‘You are the love of my life.’ He smiled and nodded as he kissed her frail hand gently. ‘And you too my darling’.
My Fantasy by Tracey Robinson
“Your boyfriend and my wife, who would have thought it,” said Kris. “You really caught them in flagrante delicto?”
“You don’t seem too upset. So what are you going to do now?”
“What about Thanksgiving?”
“How about coming home with me to Chicago?”
I looked at Kris quizzically.
Kris gazed at me as he lightly touched the back of my hand. “Are you seriously going to continue to ignore the spark between us?”
I blushed. No. No reason to now, I thought as I leaned over and softly kissed him on the lips.
Bringing Out The Best by Susan Sleggs
Newly divorced Tessa, visiting her sister, sat in their childhood church. When the choir started singing from the loft her face registered recognition. She whispered, “I can hear Michael’s voice. I’ve never stopped hearing it.”
Aggie rolled her eyes.
“Is he home for good?”
“Medical discharge. In a wheelchair, he can do without. Very different.”
“Same beautiful bass.”
Later in the day, Michael approached Aggie’s door. She watched. “I’ll be dipped, he’s walking. You always could bring out the best in him. You sure about this?”
“It’s just dinner.”
“It’ll be good to be wanted and needed.”
Romance #1 by Grace Davis
A garden. A girl. A lingering glance. He wakes from the dream, her face still more vivid than the shabby room which greets his eyes. All day she distracts him, so much so that he gets lost going home.
Across town a girl awakes, starts her day, the fragments of a dream about a handsome stranger still fogging her mind. Later she takes the long route home – often too hot and tired to bother but today the garden is calling her.
A garden. Two people. The glance. It’s not possible. It can’t be real. And yet somehow it is.
Romance by Anita Dawes
My parents are the stories of poets, romantics
Married fifty-six years, they still hold hands
I hope some of that love has rubbed off
That I hold my husband’s hand as long
I remember years ago, asking mum
How she knew dad was the one
He was persistent, for three weeks he sent flowers
With a handwritten poem
Until I agreed to our first date
The rest is history,
dad was the romantic one
I asked my dad the same question
His answer, She’s my star
Without her there’s no light in the world
What more can I say…
Inferno Love by Bill Engleson
“It’s like fire scorching my brain,” she says.
I look into her eyes, see the furious flames. The heat is irresistible.
“You can see it, can’t you? The furnace?”
I have to look away. As I do, she reaches for me, says in a sweet nothings voice, “Keep looking at me. Never stop. Your love is so cool to the touch.”
I need her warmth. She needs my frosty ways. I touch her brow with my fingers, trace the shape of face.
“You are a river flowing down from the snow-capped mountains,” she sings. “I have been waiting forever.”
Safe from Unsuitable Men or Miss Fluart’s Romance by Gordon Le Pard
The weeping girl was handed into the carriage, her father looked at the black veiled woman.
“I am counting on you to keep her safe from unsuitable men.”
Miss Fluart nodded, “My house in Devon is very secluded, she will be safe from men there.”
As they drove off Charlotte smiled at her friend,
“I think that went very well, but you said nothing about unsuitable woman?”
“I don’t know what you mean, my dear.” Replied Miss Fluart squeezing Charlotte’s hand.
Charlotte settled back, “But Maria, what am I to do in wildest Devon?”
“Have adventures, my dear, adventures.”
The Talk by Joanne Fisher
“Cindy we need to talk.” Jess said. Cindy followed her outside fearing the worst.
She’s going to dump me! Cindy fretted. Jess stopped and faced her.
“I know you think I’m going crazy, but please don’t leave me!” Cindy pleaded. Jess looked at her confused.
“What are talking about? I’m not worried about that.” She replied. She then got down on one knee, produced a small jewelry box revealing a ring. “Cynthia, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?” Cindy gasped and fell to her knees.
“Yes of course! Nothing would make me happier!” They hugged.
A Blind Date with a Difference by Anne Goodwin
She didn’t smile all evening. He didn’t look her in the eye. But they both saw the funny side of their blind date.
Their wedding photos were unusual. Authentic: his white stick and her downturned lips ruled out fairytale illusions. They didn’t bother dressing up.
They’d both been rejected. Pitied. Defined by what they lacked. For her, facial muscles. For him, one sense out of five. Now she had a spouse who only saw beneath the surface. Now he had a lover who thought looking overhyped. They ditched diagnoses – Moebius syndrome, blindness – for honesty and humour. A perfect match.
Starship Romance by Joanne Fisher
I worked on a starship freighter, often feeling alone.
Another woman began working on the same shift. Her name was Brigid and we quickly became friends and often hit the bar after work ended. One night we kissed and shared a bunk together. All was good, but suddenly she announced she’d been offered another position that paid more money. And then she was gone, and I was alone again.
To my surprise, one day she reappeared.
“I thought you were working on another ship.”
“It wasn’t the same without you Emma.” she replied taking my hands and kissing me.
Celestial Consorts by Annette Rochelle Aben
He was a golden Adonis. Warm and friendly with energy to spare. He hung around most days, filling the world with light.
She was his biggest fan. Always waking from a good night’s sleep, hoping he’d be there. It made her day to have him with her wherever she was.
One day, his arch-enemy appeared and tried to rain on their parade. She was frightened for it seemed she had lost her golden love. But he sent a rainbow of protection to show her he was close by. And as soon as the clouds parted, the lovers were reunited.
PART II (10-minute read)
True Love by Norah Colvin
Although he’d written love notes and brought flowers nearly every day, he’d caught her unawares when, one morning, he whispered, “Will you marry me?”
His eyes glistened with hope, but she hesitated. She’d not encouraged him, not that way. How could she have anticipated this?
Crouching to look him in the eyes, she said, “Thank you for the compliment, Josh. You’re very sweet, but I can’t. I’m sorry.”
His lips quivered as he asked, “Why not, Miss Ruby?”
“Josh, I’m already married,” she said, showing her rings.
He was downcast momentarily, then suddenly brightened. “You could get a divorce?”
Not a Good Day to Become an Outlaw by TN Kerr
Kid Kevin rode into town ‘bout high noon. He tied Ole Paint to the rail at the bank, drew his pearl-handled revolvers, and kicked open the door. The new schoolmarm, Hermione Perkins, was inside.
“Oh Kevin,” she swooned, “Thank God you’re here, Grizzly Hank just emptied the vault.” She gathered her skirts and ran to the door. “He went thataway,” she pointed. “If you hurry you can most likely still catch him.”
Thinking quickly Kevin decided not to become an outlaw today. He mounted up and took off in hot pursuit of the robber.
Miss Perkins might be grateful.
Max and Mouse by Nancy Brady
Max and Mouse met the day he moved next door, and they became best friends. Max said, “I am going to marry you, Mouse.”
Years of school changed his affections; while he was always dating someone, he and Mouse remained close.
After college graduation, Micha found herself in her new apartment when Max called about the class reunion. “No, I’m not going, Max,” she said.
“You are,” he replied. “Because I’ll bug until you do.”
Weeks later, Micha found herself at the reunion. Max was astounded by the changes in his Mouse. Would she still marry him, he wondered.
The Pitch by Bill Engleson
Dear Kate, you may not remember me, but I was a year ahead of you in High School.
Scratch that. Different tact.
Katie, old bud, Howdy. Have you ever received a letter from someone you once knew…?
Right. I can see her scrunching it up and tossing it into the wastebasket. She played Varsity Basketball…it would be instinctive.
My Dearest Katherine, Hear me out. I know its been a few years, but we went to school together and I have this need.
Sounds so pathetic.
Kate, time is such a tease. Could we meet for coffee?
Romance by Joanne Ashley
“Black coffee,” I mutter to the waitress. Eyeing the door, I add three sugars and inhale the aroma, sweet and bitter.
The clock’s hands leap ahead. How late is late? How many possible explanations is too many? How hollow can a life feel when your love refuses to push open the swing door and allow your heart to fill? I picture the earth, scooped out by a cosmic drum maker, skin of a sun stretched taut against it’s sides, being hammered on by a god’s hand. The rhythm mimicking my beating heart.
The door swings open, and Venus laughs.
As Romantic as It Gets by Reena Saxena
“Anamika and Arun have decided to separate. Another fairytale wedding ends.”
“I’m not surprised. There’s a difference between knowing, understanding and loving.”
“One leads to another.”
“No. We don’t like everything we understand.”
“And what do you prefer?”
“Being understood correctly, rather than being loved for the wrong reason….”
It’s time to leave for work after the morning coffee we have together at Starbucks.
I foresee myself as single in the near future. His expressions speak a lot, though he tactfully remains silent. I’d like to remain friends though, meeting for a coffee and then leading your own life.
For Now D. Avery
He strode through Westerns, then paused long at Historical Fiction. Not knowing what adventures might lie ahead, I followed in suspense, wondering what shelves he’d search next. I secretly thrilled when he turned the corner and browsed gentle reads and women’s novels. Was this a man in touch with his emotions? My own emotions ran high. Hiding behind an open book, a Fantasy Romance Suspense Adventure that was surely too good to be true, I followed through Literary Fiction. He brought (italics)my book(italics) to the counter.
I looked down the street but he’d disappeared in this Flash.
That Awkward First Date by Chelsea Owens
“So, whaddya like to do?” *Dumb! Why did you ask that?*
“Um, well, I like reading.” *Crap! Now he’s going to think I sit at home and knit.*
“Oh. Reading.” *And probably knitting.*
*Say something; say something.* “So, what do you like to do?”
“Me?” *Think of something impressive.* “Uh; not much. Mostly I …” *Impressive!* “I …like movies.”
*She’s not impressed.*
“I …I like movies, too.” *Like everybody does… * “What’s a favorite?”
*Say it. You’ve bombed the date anyway.* “Actually; Big Trouble in Little China.”
*What??* “No way. Me, too!”
“So… wanna go get Chinese?”
Second Date by Vinci Lam
Her name is Rosalie. She lives seven blocks from the train station two towns over. She likes mochas, stray white cats, and a man who holds the door.
She walks backwards when she talks—like girls in romantic comedies—and sometimes she jaywalks just to watch street performers.
Rosalie dislikes popcorn and the new Spiderman movie. She reveals her predictions of the night, her lacking faith in surprises.
Sitting in the dark, in silence. Disappointment glues me to my seat, my sweaty hands gripping the armrests.
In the pitch black, Rosalie places her hand on mine and gently squeezes.
Romance #2 by Grace Davis
She had donated the wrong book. The community book table allowed you to leave and take books. Emma was its biggest benefactor but this was a mistake: Persuasion, creased with love, filled with her own annotations and thoughts. She ran back but it had gone.
Days later, glancing through the new offerings, something caught her eye. Heart pounding, Emma picked up her beloved book. Thumbing through, she noticed a change: brand new annotations. She read every one and fell in love there and then.
She left the book again, with just one note added. That night the phone rang…
Cupid’s Call on the Range by Charli Mills
A cow caused it all. Maria Sanchez lived on the backside of Hope Valley, watching her father’s herd of Angus, selling steaks to silver miners. Garett Meadows owned the mine. He spotted Maria one day, lifting her skirts to chase a cow, exposing curvy brown calves. A range cow charged the encroaching horse, and Garret struck his head in the fall. Worried that her father would be blamed, Maria hid the injured man in a trapper’s cabin to tend to him alone. Garett was only playing injured. A month later, at their wedding, he blamed love on the cow.
Veronica’s Gift by Saifun Hassam
Lisa, an archeologist, met Nick when she donated Aunt Veronica’s renowned botanical art to the University. Nick, Curator and Archivist immediately suggested digital archiving of the gorgeous irreplaceable paintings and illustrations.
Working through the collection, Nick read Veronica’s extensive annotations and notes about the worldwide locations that inspired her art. Lisa loved his suggestion of bringing together art, botany, and travel in a book. They decided to start with a trip to Crater Lakes, a biohabitat vibrant with natural history, archeology, and very significant resource for Veronica’s art.
Their personal relationship deepened. Veronica’s gift had enriched both their lives.
Emotional Reconciliation by JulesPaige
I wondered if Marilyn’s parents ever thought “These kids today!” – One moment they are remembering a time when they could still hear happy children exclaim “Are we there yet?”
when taken out of town to some special surprise place.
What kind of relationship did Marisol and Jack Seedsmen have? From my own uncovered evidence I knew he loved his daughter. Could his wife had wished for teenagers to just scram like her half sister Margoth? I couldn’t believe that, especially with the care that Marisol had taken to replicate her family in the carefully preserved scarecrows that awaited me…
In Marilyn’s Vent Diary I had read that her parents put on a solid front. They supported each other. They displayed affection and seemed to be romantic. Well in the eyes of a teenage girl anyway. Whenever her mother had to travel with her sister Margoth, Jack missed Marisol. He became just a tad sullen and moody as if no one else in the world could understand him.
When Marisol returned Jack was over the moon. He couldn’t seem to do enough for her. Jack would get her some new art supply and read her poetry while she created.
See next page
I had found the yellow cup in the top back corner of the pantry. Marilyn had described her mother’s attempt at pottery – the class was a gift upon one of her returns from out of town. Yellow was Jack’s favorite color. On the yellow cup was Marisol’s first attempt at painting a sunflower with glaze.
Mr. and Mrs. Seedsmen would sit on the enclosed porch and watch the sunset. Marisol would brew Chamomile tea. Mother’s cup was one that Marilyn had made in an art class, but Jack always had his yellow cup that Marisol had made for him.
Deep Sheep by D. Avery
“’Ello, Buckaroo. Love ees in da air, no?”
“Pepe LeGume. Something’s in the air alright. J. Geils sang that love stinks. Might be right. Seen Pal or Kid?”
“You ask, I tell. Day did not like da prompt. One rode east, da odder west. I teenk day odd ta’ve gone nort an’ south, as day are one an’ da same bipolar.”
“Didn’t like the prompt?”
“Genre-ly speaking, no. Day rode off. But not eento da sunset.”
“So no whining from Kid?”
“No, but whine cood be romantic, no?”
“You’re just passing through, right?”
“Like a sheep in da night.”