top of page
  • Writer's pictureJenna Moreci


HelloOoOo everybody!

Valentine's Day wasn’t too long ago, which means lots of people might be really sad. Because of this, now seems like the perfect time to discuss heartbreak and breakups. Specifically, how to write this sort of stuff so it crushes your readers. This video is dedicated to one of my patrons over on Patreon, Silvia Blue. Like many of you, Silvia has written a tearful breakup, but she's not quite sure if it's gonna pack the kind of punch that she intended. Fear not! I am breaking down the 10 tips for writing heartbreak and breakups. Specifically, how to make sure the scene comes across as believable and authentic to the reader. Let's get to it!

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to also subscribe to my YouTube channel for more writing tips, sarcasm, and of course, more of Princess Butters!


Number 1: Breakups Do Not Come Outta Nowhere

Many people argue against this point because a lot of times breakups do feel like they've come out of nowhere. One minute you're happy, the next minute you're dumped. The thing is just because a breakup feels sudden doesn't mean it is. The dumper has likely been thinking about it for a while, and many times there are signs that we've missed either because we were busy or oblivious or blinded by love. It's fine if a breakup comes out of nowhere from the character’s perspective, but nine times out of ten it shouldn’t come out of nowhere from the reader’s perspective. That doesn't mean the reader should necessarily predict the breakup, but there should be some hints that have been left along the way. It could be recurring disagreements. It could be a decrease in affection. Plant some kind of seeds for the readers, because otherwise, the breakup is just going to feel like a plot device.

Number 2: One Person Isn’t Always To Blame

Lots of fictional breakups focus on one evildoer. Someone cheated or was abusive or was an asshole. This is fine if it fits your narrative, but relationships are usually a lot more complicated than one person being the good guy and one person being the bad guy. Sometimes relationships fail because both partners screwed up individually. Other times breakups happen for reasons outside the relationship entirely. These factors are especially important to consider if you plan to get your characters back together. No one wants to read about your character taking back a cheating piece of shit. If the intention is for the breakup to be temporary, make sure the offenses are either equal or justifiably forgivable. No one person should be the bad guy.

Number 3: It’s Not You, It’s Me

Lots of writers regurgitate the same dating woes, particularly infidelity, in order to move the story along. But there are other options! Ones that might make a lot more sense to the story, especially if your characters have a good thing going. Sometimes breakups happen in relationships that seem great, and usually, that's because one party in particular is having some kind of personal problem. For example, people have broken up with partners they adored because of mental illness. Maybe they don't feel like they can properly contribute to the relationship in a healthy way until they get their depression under control. Again, these are avenues to take into consideration depending on the character's lifestyle and personality and whether or not you want them to get back together.

Number 4: It Ain’t Always a Screaming Match

It can very well be a screaming match, but that's not your only option. A lot of writers create dramatic, angry breakups, and if that fits the situation, have at it! But a lot of times breakups are just a discussion. Yes, there's usually crying or even sobbing, but not all breakups involve violent rage or smashing windows.

“But Jenna, a screaming match is a lot more interesting to read!”

It's interesting if it fits the situation. If it doesn't, it's gonna read like melodrama. The emotional tone needs to fit the reason behind the split, as well as the character’s personalities. Otherwise, they're just gonna look like a bunch of toddlers shitting their diapers.

Number 5: Calm Comes From Three Places

Some writers like to flip the script and go with the opposite end of the spectrum.

“I want to write a healthy breakup, so I'm going to make sure each party remains perfectly poised and calm. No crying. No name-calling. Just an honest, composed conversation.”

First of all, showing emotion when you're splitting up with someone you care for is not an unhealthy thing to do. It's perfectly normal to cry during a breakup. It's normal to be angry if you feel betrayed. Second, being calm during a breakup isn't the sign of a healthy breakup. Being calm during any situation that would normally make people emotional is usually a sign of one of three things. One is shock; the person is so taken aback that they've gone blank. Two is acceptance; they saw the writing on the wall, and they already knew the breakup was coming. And three is apathy; they don't give a fuck! Probably because they're not that into their partner. If your character fits into one of these three situations, then a “calm breakup” is probably suitable. Otherwise, they're gonna come off as robotic.

Number 6: Everyone Handles Heartbreak Differently

A lot of writers ask me how to write heartbreak point-by-point as if there's some sorta one-size-fits-all formula. That ain't how shit works! Look at the real world. Look at your past relationships. Look at your friends' relationships. I'm sure you'll see that everyone handles breakups differently. For example, a friend of mine handles breakups really hard. She can be upset about a split for months. On the flip side, I'm an icy bitch. I usually need about one day to cry and then after that, I try to move on.

“But Jenna, how do I know how my character would handle a breakup?”

This is your job to figure out as a writer. Look at their characterization. Define how they handle hardship and struggle. Unfortunately, if you're looking for a formula, the odds are you're pumping out one-dimensional characters and you need to quit it!

Number 7: Ice Cream and Chick Flicks Are Cliched

Ninety percent of the time a piece of media depicts a breakup from a woman's perspective, we get the ice cream and chick flick scene. You guys know what I'm talking about. I'm not saying women don't do this; I'm sure some women do. But an entire gender is not a monolith. We've got layers and personalities. Some of us don't like chick flicks. Some of us are lactose intolerant. Some of us would rather get drunk after a breakup. This is not to say that you should not write the ice cream and chick flick scene, but you should only write it if it genuinely fits the character. Her having a vagina should not be the only determiner that goes into this decision.

Number 8: Booty Calls Are Cliched As Well

On the flip side, ninety percent of the time we see a breakup from the man's perspective, we get the booty call. He goes out and gets laid because the only way to get over his ex is to rebound! Again, people certainly do this in real life, but to believe that every single man on the planet does this . . . is stupid. It's not the most mature coping mechanism, so if the action doesn't fit the character, you're potentially coloring them in a very negative light. Again, it's your prerogative to write a booty call, but if it doesn't fit the character’s personality it's going to look like the cliche it is.

Number 9: Time Heals All Wounds

With a few rare exceptions, people typically require time in order to heal from heartbreak. Your character is not likely to wake up the next day perfectly fine and over it. The emotions of heartbreak can manifest in several different ways. Depression, sadness, anger, resentment, denial, I could go on! But they're probably going to feel something. Even if they're strong and trying to move on, they're probably going to have some kind of lingering emotion that lasts for a while. It's also important to remember that stalking exes or pining for unrequited love ain't cute. A character who was dumped a year ago but is still clinging to their ex is not going to come across as romantic. I know a lot of newbie writers like to go this route, but it doesn’t work. Sorry ’bout it!

Number 10: Show, Don't Tell

The number one rule for writing ninety percent of scenes, particularly emotional scenes, is to show, not tell. If you want a breakup to be impactful, if you want the reader's heart to break alongside the character’s, you need to show. It's not enough to say she was sad or angry. Show how that sadness and anger manifested itself within the character and within the scene. Think about your five senses. How does the character's anger look visually? Maybe their eyes are narrowed or their jaw is clenched. How does the character’s sadness feel physically? Did their stomach drop? Is their chest hollow or aching? Showing the emotion is going to make it a lot easier for readers to put themselves in the character’s position, and thus become invested in the moment.

So that's all I've got for you today!

Author Jenna Moreci.

Thanks again to Silvia for requesting this topic! If you'd like the chance to have a video dedicated to you, or if you want access to tons of other awards, check me out on Patreon! We have an exclusive writing group, you get early access to videos, there's a monthly live stream, and there’s signed merch! The information is linked here!


Follow Me!

Buy My Books!




bottom of page