Romance; real and fictional

I've never quite got the hang of writing about romance. I suspect it may be a man thing, but other authors seem to cope happily.

In real life however, the issue becomes even more tricky. I've just received an email from Niamh, regarding how she's receiving love poems from a besotted suitor.

Clearly, this requires a firm response, her now having attained the age of 17. My reply seems to have caused some mirth, so I thought I'd post it below, as a useful guide for all parents (and possibly authors) regarding how to deal with such matters...


Dear Niamh,

It has been brought to my attention that a member of your college has been attempting to woo you with poetry.  This raises a number of issues, which I feel it is my fatherly duty to make clear at the outset.

 As follows –

Quality of wooing material

As a BBC Correspondent and author, a man of words, all attempts at wooing with verse, poetry or prose, must, in the first instance, be submitted to, and cleared with me. Only work of the highest standards can be entertained.

Quality of suitor

As my daughter, only candidates of the finest quality can be considered. Any males mulling an attempt at wooing, must, in the first instance –

1.      Outline their reasons and intentions for wooing; a summary of 10,000 words will be considered acceptable for this.

2.      Summarise their resources and prospects, along with career ambitions and goals; again, a 10,000 word summary should be produced.

3.      Outline the stages the wooing process will follow (please include such items as gifts proffered, restaurants and bars visited, dates suggested etc.). Another 10,000 words here, please.

4.      Include also a background of the suitor and their family, complete with educational history, properties owned, financial resources etc. A mere 5,000 words here will suffice.

Interview Process

Following receipt of materials requested (above), candidates may be called for interview. This will take the form of a selection day, including a series of physical and mental challenges and tests, and a general knowledge quiz (1000 questions, 95% pass mark) followed by a formal, two hour interview.


Please remember the following rules for suitors –

1.      No time to be spent together with the suitee unaccompanied, until age 21.

2.      No holding hands until age 25.

3.      No kissing until age 30 (minimum).

(all subject to the suitor succeeding in the formal application process)

Yours, me.


Right, that should sort out the romantic issues - in real life, if not - sadly - in my writing.