5 Ways To Write A Modern Romance With A Classic Twist

5 Ways To Write A Modern Romance With A Classic Twist


If you are writing romance, you will love this post. We’ve included five ways to write a modern romance with a classic twist.

If you’re a romance writer looking to create a modern love story, the classics are a rich mine of inspiration.

Must-Read: All About The Romance Writing Genre

We look at five classic books and offer some scenarios that may work in a contemporary storyline. At the very least, these suggestions will have you re-reading some unforgettable novels.

5 Ways To Write A Modern Romance With A Classic Twist

1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Forget the controversy Fifty Shades of Grey caused. In the 1920s, D.H. Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, was a notorious bestseller. The lusty and forbidden affair between Connie Chatterley and earthy groundskeeper George Mellors–while her mining industrialist husband languishes in a wheelchair–remains a significant love story.

The modern twist: Find a way to bring fresh tension to a classic love triangle. You could have the husband as a tech billionaire, while the wife could morph into a fiancée who is attracted to a lumbersexual barista with a glorious beard– this could show the opposite qualities between the two love interests quite starkly.

2. The Great Gatsby.

F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, really captures the nostalgia and yearning of a lost love. Daisy Buchanan is the quintessential ‘girl who got away’, while Jay Gatsby’s transformation from humble soldier to glamorous and rich bootlegger creates the perfect flawed hero.

The modern twist: In a modern romance, the trope of a ‘shared past’ works very well. You could have the hero undergo a ‘makeover’ to win back the woman he lost in the past. New York is always a glittering setting, so you could use that as a backdrop to a heady love story for the new ‘Roaring Twenties’ that kicked off in 2020.

3. The Sun Also Rises.

Ernest Hemingway’s early novel, The Sun Also Rises, gave us an expat love story set in France and Spain as Jake Barnes tries to win the affections of the cool heartbreaker, Lady Brett Ashley in the cafés of Paris and the exciting bull fighting arenas of Pamplona.

The modern twist: The character archetype of a ‘fish out of water’ works well – so you could have your main characters living/ working in a foreign city. While the idea of bullfighting may be anathema, you could experiment with other adrenaline-infused sports (F1 racing, etc.). An elusive temptress who lives by her own rules is a terrific way to create an empowered heroine.

4. Wuthering Heights.

In Emily Brontë’s enduring classic, Wuthering Heights, gypsy orphan Heathcliff returns as a brooding master to unleash his revenge on Cathy Earnshaw, taking over the family home, and driving Cathy to an early grave. She comes back as a ghost to haunt him.

The modern twist: You simply can’t miss with a broodingly dark handsome alpha hero – and when combined with a theme of revenge, you may have a winning story on your hand. You could take it one step further and bring in a supernatural element to create a bit of a chill to balance out the steamy bits.

5. Anna Karenina.

Leo Tolstoy’s epic tragedy, Anna Karenina, gives us passion as unstoppable as a speeding train. Vibrant Anna, trapped in a loveless marriage, falls for the dashing Count Alexey Vronsky. When he abandons her, she finds herself a social outcast and at her journey’s end.

The modern twist: Adultery is probably never cool in a modern romance, but the idea of travel and trains throbs with romantic potential. You could have your lovers meet on a subway or even a cruise ship. And introducing a military hero to the mix is a great idea – especially if it’s relevant to the world we live in today. A moody winter backdrop couldn’t hurt.

How To Play It Out

Whether you choose to give a happy or hopeful ending to your stories is up to you. Most readers want an ending that satisfies their wishful thinking and lifts the imagination. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have trials and tests along the way to your ‘happily ever after’.

Strong Female Characters

Modern love stories must reflect the times we live in. A weak or complacent heroine may be a challenge to write – and a reader may not empathise with the character. Your heroine should ideally have a strong character, a dream of her own to pursue, a career, and she should meet the hero on equal footing.

TOP TIP: If you want to learn how to write a romance, sign up for our online course, This Kiss.

Anthony Ehlers by Anthony Ehlers

Read More: Explore the romance writing tag on our website for more posts: Romance Writing

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This article has 2 comments

  1. Von

    Fun ideas! That said, Vronsky doesn’t abandon Anna in AK — her paranoia makes her think he’s abandoning her, but it’s highly questionable. Also, the “Modern Twist” on WH sounds like, well, Wuthering Heights — supernatural twist? Like maybe a ghost at the window? 🙂

  2. Anthony

    Thanks Von! Appreciate the feedback. Maybe Heathcliff calls Cathy back via hologram – that could be a cool twist!

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