Valentine’s Day is one of those love-hate holidays, but no matter how you feel about this week’s special day, the theme of love provides endless inspiration for writing.

There are many types of love stories—ones about first love, second-chance love, forbidden love, unrequited love. But what is it about first love that makes such an impact on us, both in our real-life experiences and in written form?

hearts in sand

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Loves Me, Loves Me Not

The complexity of relationships makes them the perfect material for storytelling. Characters, emotions, all the peaks and valleys that naturally occur add up to one great story.

What else is involved in a story about first love? Here are some key elements that explain why these stories stick with us long after they end:

1. Nostalgia

First love feels like a look back—whether the story sits squarely in the present or comes as a true flashback. Even if your characters are experiencing love for the first time, your readers likely have felt those butterflies before. Those real life memories supply a nostalgic feel to any story of a first love. Give your readers a reason to call upon their own first love, bittersweet feelings and all.

2. Innocence

The beginning of any relationship contains a wonderful kind of uncertainty, but when it comes to first love, everything is new. No matter what age, a first romance has an innocent, earnest sense of discovery, exploration, and wonder that truly brings the phrase “head over heels” to life. Tap into that newness, that time in which every little thing means so much more, in your own writing.

3. Heartbreak

Every relationship, like every good story, includes conflict. Misunderstandings, mistakes, changing circumstances—they all challenge love. We’re human, and life brings ups and downs. First loves are particularly vulnerable. Show how conflict impacts your characters and tests their relationship. Can they make it through?

What do you think are the key ingredients in a “first love” story?


Write for fifteen minutes about a first love—your own or a fictional story.

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please respond to some of the other comments too!

Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.

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