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November 18, 2014

Writing About: Marriage Proposals


I have written a few marriage proposals in my books.

30 Seconds Spoiler: The one in 30 Seconds is definitely not your traditional proposal, but it was perfect for my characters and their situation.

Marriage proposals make great scenes for romances or any kind of story with a bit of romance in it. Here are 8 things to keep in mind when you write your characters' proposal.

1.    Who is doing the asking?

You know, it is the 21st Century. Men don’t have to be the only ones to propose marriage. Remember Monica on FRIENDS getting down on her knees to propose to Chandler? It was the sweetest and best moment of the show! Don’t be afraid to mix things up.

2.    Setting

Where does the proposal take place? Think about the plot of your story and your characters. Both will influence the setting of the proposal.

3.    How does the asker propose marriage?

Does the guy create a romantic dinner complete with a ring on top of a dessert? Does he get down on one knee? Does the woman get frustrated and ask her man over breakfast? Your characters’ personalities will influence this.

4.    Reaction

Reveal the woman’s (or man’s) reaction to the proposal. If you’re in the other character’s perspective, you can describe his/her face. Do his/her eyes widen? Does his/her jaw drop? Does all the color drain from his/her face?

5.    Thoughts

For whichever character’s perspective you’re in, highlight his/her thoughts. If this character is asking, is he/she nervous? If this character is answering, is he/she scared or happy? Create thoughts to go with their feelings.

6.    The Answer

Of course, you have to reveal the answer. It’s never good to leave your readers hanging. Is the answer a yes or a no?

7.    If the answer is yes . . .

How does the couple celebrate? Do they share a kiss? Do onlookers applaud? Create a scene so your readers can celebrate, too. And don’t forget to show the moment when the ring goes on the finger, as well as the asker’s relief. 

See: Writing About: Weddings for what you can write next.

8.    If the answer is no . . .

Are there tears, a fight, or a breakup? Delve into why the answer is a no. Is it because he/she is afraid or not ready for marriage? Are their deeper issues at play? Let your readers know, even if the other character finds out much later.


SHARE: Your marriage proposal story.


QUESTIONS: Have you written a proposal scene in one of your stories? If you could have the proposal of your dreams (or create one for someone special) what would it be like?


76 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

All signed up for the Blitz.
I sort of had one in my second book. Not really marriage as much as a bonding of mates though.

Michelle Wallace said...

The Blog Blitz is a wonderful initiative...and it's NOT about gaining followers...
This post is timely! In my current WIP, I have a section where the couple are set to renew their vows...for me, the most interesting part will be writing the different reactions by individuals who have different agendas...because this will actually play a big part in moving the plot forward...

Carrie-Anne said...

My parents don't have a proposal story; they just came to a mutual decision to get married. There wasn't even an engagement ring.

I proposed to my ex with a male engagement ring I bought in Jerusalem, with a spinning center inscribed in Hebrew with "I have found whom my soul loves." We had to go to the track and field at his old high school, since he just had to eat his mommy's home-cooked food and didn't have enough time to go to the nicer park I wanted. After I asked, he jammed it onto his finger and said, "It's stuck. I'm very upset." Amazing I continued to waste almost another year and a half with him after he humiliated me. After he gave me the "engagement ring" I later bought myself (without any fanfare or special time), he never even told his mommy and daddy whom he lives with. At least I got to keep both rings; the male ring fits me too, since I misjudged his ring size and it's only slightly bigger than my normal size. He's welcome to spend the rest of his life with his dysfunctional greenhorn family who thinks they're still in the USSR.

Lisa Thomson said...

Great tips, Chrys. I haven't written a proposal in my fiction---YET. I don't have a proposal story as my ex just kind of casually said "maybe we should get married", like he was suggesting what to eat for dinner. I should have seen the signs. I think a marriage proposal should take a great deal of thought. It doesn't have to be grand but it should be thoughtful. I think a proposal gone wrong can be written in a humorous kind of way and would add endearment to the character. I'm going to check out that blog hop. It sounds fun!

Chrys Fey said...

Yay for the Blitz! I plan on reading your books to find out more about this. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Nope, that's why I said if you're looking to gain followers this isn't the blog hop for you. I think many people probably assumed if so many were coming to their blog they'd get a bunch of followers, too. Sometimes I do follow blogs being blitzed if they look like something I'd be interested in.

Moving the plot forward is always the goal. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I think it's neat that you proposed to your ex, but I'm glad you're not with him anymore. He sounds like an idiot...and a few other choice words that I don't want to put here. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I agree that a marriage proposal should take thought. I've written one though that does happen spur of the moment and yet it is perfect. :) You should join the Blitz Team, Lisa! I think you'll enjoy it!

Dani said...

The Blitz is a great thing to have around and it's nice he's redoing the sign up. That way the people who want to really do it, can.

My hubby proposed to me at work in front of all of my co-workers. He didn't ask per se but he sent a bouquet of flowers with a sweet a message and at the end of it, it asked if I'd marry him. When I turned around, he was behind me on one knee. It was really cute!

I think the right proposal unique to the relationship is very important. Tho I have never written on in my WIP's before. Nice tips!

Sarah Foster said...

If the answer is no, that could be an entire story in itself!
I've only written one proposal and it's not anything I'll ever actually use (sometimes I just like to imagine my characters' futures), but it was fun to write. I definitely agree with thinking about the characters--what would fit for them. My fiance proposed to me in our apartment because he knew I wouldn't like being out in public with a lot of people staring at me.

Unknown said...

I am debating on whether or not to keep the marriage proposal the way I have it set up in my novel at the moment. These are some awesome tips I will keep in mind!
My dream proposal would either be on our anniversary or while we are on vacation. I wonder if I will be asked anytime soon!=)

brenda said...

Not yet, but my writing career is young. There is still time to tackle the big one.

Diane Burton said...

I wrote a proposal scene in Switched, Too. She's so eager she jumps the gun and he gets (fake) mad because "there are some things a guy has to do. And proposing to the woman he loves is one of them."

Chrys Fey said...

That is an incredibly romantic proposal. What a lucky gal you are. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

That would make a story!

Aw! It's nice that he took that into account. I wouldn't want a public proposal either as I'm quite shy.

Chrys Fey said...

I wonder if you'll be asked soon, too. ;) I think a vacation proposal would be wildly romantic.

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, there is! :)

Chrys Fey said...

HAHA! I love that quote! It's cute that he wanted to do the asking. :)

Patsy said...

Coincidentally I've just written a short story with what, from a distance, looks like a proposal and could lead to one.

Anonymous said...

We were at a dance, it was the last dance of the evening when my late husband proposed.
Will join up directly.

Unknown said...

The proposal scene in my novel took place while the couple was on vacation. And my husband proposed to me on Christmas, at midnight. I thought there were earrings in the box, lol. I was truly surprised.

Ava Quinn said...

Fun topic today, Crys! Proposals, in my mind, should definitely be unique for each set of characters. And I put a proposal in my ms.

Pat Hatt said...

I haven't had one, skipped over that time and just had them married later on haha

Unknown said...

Nice ideas. Fun way to bring drama and emotions into a book.
I am all for a super emotional proposal.

Chrys Fey said...

Perfect timing! ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Awesome! You'll like Blog Blitz. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Aw! That's cute! He surely did the element of surprise just right. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Proposals are fun...though I have never been proposed to. lol

Chrys Fey said...

LOL! Cheater. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Emotional proposals are the best. :)

New Release Books said...

Great ideas as usual Chrys. Thanks for sharing.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Chrys. Thanks for this. I've included a marriage proposal at the end of my first romance. It's all beautiful with colours, sunshine, beauty...of course she said 'yes' three times actually!

Denise :)

Cherdo said...

The way you visited a variety of scenarios was great!

(I had an interesting marriage proposal. We were talking on the phone when my future hubby told me I needed more closet space - I remarked that it was true, but there was nothing I could do about it in a rental. He replied, "So, let's get married!" Not romantic, but it worked...twenty year anniversary in 2015, after dating for seven years...I was hesitant to marry because I was the idiot who chose my first husband.)

Kimberly said...

I love this info! I wrote a proposal scene a few months ago but there was no answer - yet! That's because something big happened. hee hee. It's funny that I've seen two movies recently where the girl did the proposing - they were both cute movies too. :)

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I like this, and I loved Monica's proposal -- very heartfelt.
I wrote a proposal scene that is devoid of the proposal. It's how it actually happened (that is, he forgot something...to ask the question),and I'm pretty happy with the scene. He definitely mixed things up in reality, and I wrote it as it happened. At any rate, I appreciate the tips.

Deniz Bevan said...

Great suggestions, and very timely -- I've got a marriage proposal in my NaNo story!

Kelly Hashway said...

Since I write YA, MG, PB, and NA (lol, look at all those letters!) I haven't written a marriage proposal. I did write a scene with a promise ring though.

Stephanie Faris said...

I think women proposing to men is great in real life, but it does seem more romantic when the man does it. I don't know why I have that fixed in my mind, though. I think because it feels like men are more likely to say no!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I saw DL's message, but I was on my phone and completely forgot about it. Thanks so much for the reminder!

Unknown said...

crazy because I'm STRUGGLING with my opening to my WIP and it opens with a ...(drum roll!) MARRIAGE PROPOSAL. lol. Great tips, I think setting's probably been my hardest thing right now. I've written at least 15 versions of the opening and it's driving me batty, so I keep moving on to other parts of the story. Sophie Kinsella has some of my favorite proposal scenes. When Luke proposed to Becky at Suze's wedding, and also her opening scene in Wedding Night! hysterical.

Sherry Ellis said...

I've never written marriage proposals, but I bet it would get rather interesting if the answer was, "no"!

Chrys Fey said...

And thank you for stopping by. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I love it when a woman is overjoyed and says "yes" three or more times. :D

Chrys Fey said...

Spontaneous proposals are great. And YAY for 20 years of marriage!!!! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, that's sounds intriguing! Adding a bit of suspense and an exciting event to interrupt the proposal is always fun. :)

Chrys Fey said...

He forgot to ask the question? :O Oh jeez! lol Mixing things up is always good. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I always like it when I post something at perfect timing. :) Good luck with your NaNo story!

Chrys Fey said...

That sure is a lot of letters. Haha! A promise ring is close...

Chrys Fey said...

You're right...a man is more likely to say no because usually the woman is ready way before the man is, but I think a woman could create a romantic proposal. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome!

Chrys Fey said...

That's funny! Hopefully you can nail down the perfect setting. Try to think where your characters would most likely be, or where the man would bring the woman if he was trying to be romantic. Good luck!! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I wrote one a long time ago where the answer is a "no" and oh boy! It got VERY interesting. ;)

Crystal Collier said...

I love proposals in books. The one in MOONLESS, I used to sit around and reread it again and again and again, making sure it was exactly right. I totally became my favorite scene in the book. (And what better way to end a book than with your favorite scene?)

Unleashing the Dreamworld

Robyn Campbell said...

I haven't done it yet. But I might in the future. It sounds like a great writing prompt too. Oh what I could do with it. I think I will use it for one. YES. Will use the excellent suggestions.

Signing up.

Chrys Fey said...

There is no better better way! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Yay for signing up for Blog Blitz!

And writing a proposal would make a fun prompt. :)

Loni Townsend said...

Hehe, I wrote a couple of marriage proposals. First was the guy asking the girl. Then it was the girl asking the guy. The second one was after a dramatic time for both characters, and the guy broke down saying, "I'm sorry." She asks, "Was that a no?" Him, "Yes. I mean, yes, I'll marry you. Not yes, that was a no."

Ah love.

SK Anthony said...

I have not written a marriage proposal . . . yet. I have one that will happen and I'm saving my own proposal story for that one. Great tips though, definitely okay for the woman to propose and all the descriptions as far as thoughts and reactions are on point! :)

S.K. Anthony: Let's Do It the Old Fashioned Way

The Armchair Squid said...

I proposed on our walk back home from a Thai Restaurant in New York City - pretty spontaneous, actually. I was fairly confident of the answer, I have to admit, as she'd practically dared me to do it some months before. Still happy 15 years later.

Liz Blocker said...

What a fun thing to write about! I never thought about it til now :)

Anonymous said...

I haven't written a proposal scene, but I love reading them, whether it's a surprise or there's been a buildup.

Gisele LeBlanc said...

I've never written a marriage proposal scene--probably because I write mostly YA--but I'm sure it would be very fun to write. I'm sure I will eventually.

When my hubby proposed to me, he was still in College. I had finished work and when I got home, he had set the table and had dinner ready. He had just gotten take-out and set it all up so it looked nice...lol. I figured something was going on but wasn't sure what. When we finished eating, he took out the ring, got down on one knee and proposed. It was very sweet.

And, that was 21 years ago. :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

This sounds like fun. I wrote a marriage proposal in my Vietnam political thriller. I think it was abrupt but romantic. At least I hope so. My husband stood on a table at a nightclub during the band's break and told me I should marry him. Then noticing the expression on my face, cleared his throat and asked rather sheepishly. Haha. Not one of his more confident moments.

Chrys Fey said...

That's cute!

Chrys Fey said...

I love that you're using your own proposal story for your characters. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Aw! Spontaneous proposals are great! :)

Chrys Fey said...

It is fun to write a proposal. I hope you can write one soon. :)

Chrys Fey said...

So do I. Any type of proposal is fun to read.

Chrys Fey said...

How adorable that he made take-out look nice. It's the thought that counts, right? ;) Yay to 21 years of marriage! May you have 21 years more. :D

Chrys Fey said...

Haha! I love it! I can actually picture that as a scene in a book or movie. ;)

Yanting Gueh said...

I haven't got a proposal scene in any of my manuscripts but maybe when I start on my mysteries ... who knows? :) I do remember Monica proposing to Chandler. It was very sweet and so in-character. By the way, Chrys, I'm running an ebook giveaway and have added "30 Seconds" to my gift selection. I hope to buy it for a lucky reader soon! If you see anything you like in that selection, feel free to let me know!

Vanessa Morgan said...

I've subscribed to the Blitz. It's such a great idea.
I've never written a marriage proposal. The author needs a lot of talent and a good sense of romance to make such a scene work.

Chrys Fey said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH for including 30 Seconds!!!!! I'm thrilled that you think it's worthy for the giveaway! :D

Chrys Fey said...

Yay for subscribing to the Blitz! :D

You're right, the author does.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I wrote a proposal scene in the first chapter of my book. It's there anything wrong or weird about that? Thanks!

Chrys Fey said...

Depend on your story. It won't be weird if that's what needs to happen.