Writers are told repeatedly, “Avoid clichés.” That wise counsel is heard so often in the writing community most of us could recite it in our sleep.
In spite of the advice, there is one cliché that works for me. . .
“I love you.”
No other phrase has quite the same effect as those three little words.
If I were to follow the rules and eliminate all clichés, I’d have to omit those wonderful words from my stories, words every romance reader waits for.
With my trusty thesaurus by my side, I could come up with alternatives.
I adore you.
I dote upon you.
I care about you.
I delight in you.
I like you very much.
I have a crush on you.
I’m infatuated with you.
I’m partial to you.
I have a soft spot for you.
I have a thing about you.
I have a fondness/deep affection for you.
I have warm/tender feelings for you.
I feel an attachment to you.
I yearn for you.
I share an intimacy with you.
I feel passion/ardor for you.
I desire/lust after you.
I’m devoted to you.
I idolize/worship you.
I carry a torch for you.
I’m besotted/smitten with you.
I’m crazy/mad/nuts/wild about you.
A couple of the alternatives might work for me as the relationship is developing, but some are too mild to express the depth of emotion conveyed by the heartfelt words, “I love you.” Others express an emphasis on the physical rather than the emotional connection. There are those suitable for God rather than a person created by Him. A couple of the examples sound old-fashioned. A few sound fun but a bit flip.
I don’t know about you, but when I reach the end of a romance, none of the alternatives is as gratifying as those words I’ve waited some 200, 300, 400, or more pages to hear. Call me a purist, but I want the hero to tell the heroine, “I love you.” It’s short, simple, but, oh so satisfying–even if it is a cliché.
Now that’s not to say writers can’t have fun with those three little words. When my dear Gwynly surprised me last week and left a love note on our bathroom mirror, he added his own special touch. Not only did he tack on a word at the end that is so “him,” but his delivery scored major mush points. We’ve been married 23 years, and yet he surprised me by where he left the words. That’s the first time he’s used the mirror as his writing surface.
I’ll admit to being a hopeless romantic, but “I love you” is a cliché I can live with.
• • •
Do any words other than the traditional “I love you” work for you?
When reading or watching a romance, do you wait for those three little words?
Have you read great examples of a declaration of love that don’t use the usual three?