To many, Nicholas Sparks is the epitome of epic romance. You ask someone their favorite romantic movie or the movie they cried the most at, and you’ll no doubt hear The Notebook. If these love stories are such a big deal, why not live on of your own? If you think you have the stomach for it, here’s how to live your own Nicholas Sparks movie. After all, these movies tend to follow a very strict formula. Just be careful what you wish for.
Step 1: Move to a small coastal town in the Carolinas.
You’re going to need to be by the water so you can row a canoe in the rain or fall in love on a blanket on the dunes. If you’re not already living in North Carolina, it’s time to move. And if you can somehow swing living in an old plantation house or a fixer-upper in the woods, even better.
As seen in: Safe Haven, Nights in Rodanthe, The Notebook…
Step 2: Fall in love with someone very different from you.
Are you the school goody-goody? Time to fall for the boy who’s always getting himself into trouble. Or maybe you’re on the run from the law. In that case, go for the widower/single father. Regardless of your taste in guys, you have to fall for someone that others would suggest you stay away from.
As seen in: Literally all of them.
Step 3: Let outside sources break you up.
No one wants you to be a couple. Your parents think he isn’t good enough. Your kids miss their dad and don’t want you to move onto someone new. Your lover has to go off to war. In real life, this breakup could be easily avoided, but not in a Nicholas Sparks movie! Against your better judgement, it’s time to end the relationship.
As seen in: The Notebook, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe…
Step 4: Deal with an unexpected tragedy.
Sorry, someone has to die. It might be the guy you fell in love with. Maybe it’s the guy’s dad. Or you just realized someone from the past has been dead all along. Heck, it could even be you. So watch your back, because tragedy is coming.
As seen in: Every single one.
Step 5: Try to get back together.
You let the outside world break you up, but now that you’ve dealt with that life-changing tragedy, your viewpoint has changed. (Unless it was one of the two of you who died, then RIP.) Realize that nothing can stop you, and get back together anyway. It’s you two against the world! Nothing could go wrong now. Right? Any other movie would stop right here, but…
As seen in: The Notebook, The Lucky One, The Last Song…
Step 6: Narrowly avoid a happy ending.
This is a Nicholas Sparks movie. You’re not allowed to have a happy ending. Oh, you’ll get close. You might get married and have a cadre of beautiful children, but you’ll also have to watch your spouse slowly succumb to Alzheimer’s. Or maybe you never were able to get back together in the last step because it was one of the two of you who died. If you want to live like you’re in a Nicholas Sparks movie, you have to accept that you aren’t going to get your perfect Happily Ever After.
As seen in: The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, A Walk to Remember, The Best of Me…