I'm defining romantic writing as something that takes you into another world, often using love and mystery to help make the transition. J.D. Salinger always manages to take you into another world, almost like a fantasy writer. Holden Caulfield, for example, doesn't live in the same world that you and I live in. As Charles Booker points out in The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, Holden is like a psychotic, he has no real relationships with anyone in the novel except his little sister, Phoebe. He lives in his own world.

J.D. Salinger

Let's look more carefully at Salinger the writer. When The Catcher in the Rye was published, Salinger moved to a small town in New Hampshire and retreated from the world. After he got married, he built a small concrete bunker about a quarter mile from his house, and he would go there to write, often staying away from his wife and kids for days and even weeks at a time! According to biographer Paul Alexander this infuriated his wife and caused her to feel alienated from him.

The character of Holden was in many ways a mirror of the real Salinger, the man who retreated from the world. Just before writing The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger had been part of the D-Day invasion of France during the Second World War. He saw 75 percent of his buddies killed, and he went into shock from the experience. He married his German nurse and came back to America. He and the nurse divorced, and then he began writing The Catcher in the Rye. Clearly the book reflects his shaky mental state at the time, which is one of the reasons it appeals to young people who are in a similar state of mind.

Luckily, you don't have to experience the horrors of war to write in a romantic style. The key to using the technique Salinger uses in The Catcher in the Rye is to take people out of the ordinary, into another reality where things are radically different. This isn't only a fictional technique, either. Many nonfiction writers also take their readers into another world. For example at the beginning of The Antioxidant Miracle Lester Packer invites readers to enter a world of science and research where they will go down to the cellular and the below-cell level to find out what makes for good nutrition. The metaphor of the "miracle" in the title is carried throughout the book. Although it's science and nonfiction, it takes you away to another world and in so doing is romantic writing at its best.