The Nicholas Sparks Formula for Romance Is So Easy Even You Can Do It

(Warner Bros. | Screen Gems | New Line)For a made up holiday, Valentine's Day sure comes with a lot of pressure. It's the one day of the year — save for maybe an anniversary — where romance isn't just an expectation, it's a requirement. And if your girlfriend, wife, or crush is a big fan of movies like The Notebook or Dear John, then her idea of what that requirement entails may be more than you're prepared for.

Luckily Nicholas Sparks, the king of those cheesy, emotionally manipulative, heartstrings-tugging, tear-inducing love stories, has repeatedly proved that it's easy to make those types swoon. Sparks is never going to win an Oscar, but he might help you win Valentine's day. You just have to follow the formula used in just about every movie he's ever written.

Step One: The Proper Embrace
Judging by the posters for Sparks' movies, it's best to greet your date with one of three moves: the head cuddle, the longing look into her eyes paired with some light face-touching, or the near-kiss. Here's a reference for your research:
Step 2: Love Triangle It
Tension builds romance, and nothing builds tension like mixed signals and odd numbers. If Nicholas Sparks movies teach us anything it's that home-wrecking fighting for love is encouraged, even if the other person is already in a committed relationship or even married. (See: Safe Haven, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Lucky One, and The Notebook.) So if you want someone who's unavailable, go for it anyway. In Sparks' world, this always works out, so you know it can be trusted.

Step 3: Love Letters
On Valentine's Day, there shall be no email, no texting, no e-cards. Write a damn letter. Even if her parents hide them (Notebook), if it's just a message in a bottle (Message in a Bottle, obvs), if you're deployed somewhere far away (Dear John), or if you're trying the long distance thing (Nights in Rodanthe), a letter is the way to a person's heart, apparently.

Step 4: Death*
Dark as it may seem, death can bring people together or make love eternal. That's why in every — EVERY! — Nicholas Sparks movie that's ever been made, someone kicks the bucket. [SPOILERS AHEAD]
Safe Haven: Josh Duhamel's wife dies of cancer, and Juliane Hough's estranged husband gets shot and killed.
The Lucky One: Zac Efron's friend/fellow soldier dies in battle, and then he falls in love with the guy's sister.
The Last Song: Miley Cyrus's dad dies of cancer.
Dear John: Channing Tatum's dad dies from a stroke, and Amanda Seyfried's husband dies of lymphoma, freeing her up to be with Taties.
Nights in Rodanthe: Richard Gere dies in a mudslide.
The Notebook: The older versions of Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling die in each other's arms at the same time, conveniently.
A Walk to Remember: Mandy Moore dies of cancer.
Message in a Bottle: Kevin Costner's wife dies. He falls in love with Robin Wright, and then he dies at sea in a storm.
*Admittedly, using death as a pickup line might be difficult depending on your personal history, so you might have to make up some sob story about an ex or a relative to execute this move.

Well, now you know how to make Valentine's Day a success, kinda. You could probably just suffer through a Nicholas Sparks movie marathon and call it a day, but that might be a fate worse than those deaths up there.
I'm the former Interactives Editor at Zimbio. I'm in an emotionally abusive relationship with my cat. Follow me: Google