Faking an orgasm in public and arriving at a ‘costume’ party as a bunny are just two memorable romantic comedy scenes that surprise and entertain. Do you remember which movies those unforgettable scenes came from? Answer at the end of this article.
If you are a writer who enjoys movies such as: You Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Love Actually, [amongst many others], and you want to try writing the good rom-com, then you’re already halfway home.
** So what elements does romantic comedy need?
When we read or watch a romantic comedy, we know that the worlds of our hero and our heroine are about to collide, permeating conflict along the way and finally allowing the couple to bond in the end, realizing that they complete each other.
The most important thing to remember about a romantic comedy is that it is about the journey. In a romantic comedy, we don’t usually have a list of suspects and then we have to decide who the killer is. Rather, it is the journey that the hero and heroine must undertake that is crucial. There should be conflicts along the way, that’s a given, but there should also be some laughs. By this, I don’t mean that every page has to be tremendously fun. It could be something that makes the reader smile, maybe a funny image.
** Don’t turn all your characters into cartoons!
When writing the rom-com, there is a danger of wanting to make all of your characters funny! Whose. Think about it, when you watch a comedy show or movie, how many cast members are playing for a laugh? Not all, you can bet. Don’t forget heterosexuals.
There is also a tendency to turn funny characters into cartoons by stereotyping them. For example, in Great Britain there is a joke about the German on vacation in Spain, who gets up early to leave his towel on the deck chair to claim his right. Or the Irishman who keeps saying things like: “Best of the morning!” or “Begorrah!” Not very true to life!
** Draw from real life
Sometimes I include funny things that have happened to me in real life. For example, in one of my books, the heroine and her friend go clubbing. The friend, when leaving the club, looks at the sky and thinks she sees a square moon. This actually happened to one of my drunk friends. It turned out to be the neon sign on top of a very large crane!
** Using real life characters
I have a confession to make, I also draw some of my characters from real life. These usually end up being secondary characters. For example, in one of my romance novels, Fran Santini’s father owns a restaurant. A couple of years ago, I visited an Italian restaurant in Cardiff. [I won’t tell you which one it is] and the owner was a character who inspired me to invent ‘Ronaldo Santini’. As soon as my mother and I entered the restaurant, she greeted us. “Beautiful ladies. Please sit here.” It was so lovely that we ended up ordering a bottle of wine, sticking around for a full three-course lunch, and paying way more than we would normally pay in a restaurant! I haven’t been there since. It will be a place I will go to in the future to treat myself.
* * Internal conflict
To up the ante, its protagonists must have an internal conflict and an external conflict that the story’s romantic relationship faces and ultimately resolves.
You’ve probably heard by now that I’m eating out. A lot of. I was inspired to invent ‘The Usherwood Sisters’ after seeing two older sisters eating every Saturday at the same restaurant in my hometown. They seem to always eat the same food and finish it with coffee. I gave them some thought and assumed they were the type of people who did not like to have their routines upset.
The main prerequisites for writing the romantic comedy are: having a sense of humor and drawing on everyday comic incidents, the rest depends on good writing skills.
Answer from the beginning of the article: The scene at the deli in When Harry Met Sally and Bridget Jones’s Diary [when Bridget turns up at a party finding out it is not fancy dress after all.]