But can you remember the last truly great 'rom-com' you've seen? Only one or two in the past few years topped the box office.
My Perfect Romance (TV Movie ) - IMDb
And as a story analyst who sees-and rejects romantic comedy specs on a weekly basis, I can tell you that the ones that really work are all too rare. So in the interest of helping fellow writers and good date movie-starved audience members everywhere , here's half a dozen key pieces of inside knowledge I'd like to share. Follow these leads, and studios won't be so quick to 'pass' on your project. We go into a romantic comedy already knowing that our leads are going to meet, lose and, ultimately, get each other. So creating two unique characters an audience will fall in love with and NEED to see united is the most important key to such a movie's success.
All great characters have purpose and credibility, are empathic and complex.
But romantic comedy leads have additional requirements. They're emotionally incomplete people who get completed by their mate-to-be. One if not both of your protagonists should have an inner conflict that the story's romantic relationship confronts and ultimately resolves. The 'chemical equation' in 'Moonstruck' makes sense: Loretta, a woman lacking passion in her life, combusts with Ronnie, an operatic Mr. Creating such 3D leads with interlocking needs is how chemistry happens in a romantic comedy, and it's got to be on the page first, if you want to attract stars who can get a movie made.
What do you think Meg Ryan's looking for in a role, a Meg Ryan type? No, she's looking for a wonderfully written, never-seen-before part played opposite the kind of suitably significant leading man that'll catch a Hugh Grant's eye. So whether your couple be made up of opposites or two sides of one coin, write compelling characters -- who believably belong together. What most people think of when they hear 'romantic comedy' is a man and a woman trading witty barbs across a restaurant table.
But this kind of typical talking-heads fare is far from all our genre can be. In fact, some of the most successful romantic comedies are hybrids -- movies that have expanded their audience by cross-breeding with other genres. This kind of cross-genre inter-breeding has kept our genre healthy for decades, and it's something to think about as you shape your romantic comedy with an eye towards the marketplace. You may already be edging into another genre's territory in your story. If so, maximize that element and plunder all it has to offer. Studios are more likely to be intrigued by a romantic comedy that also promises the kind of big screen action that a crime, adventure, sports, etc.
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And while we're on the subject of holding the big screen, consider making your romantic comedy a MOVIE, as opposed to a stillie. Great movies move -- and romantic comedy duds talk themselves to death. I know that many of us lovers of the form are drawn to it precisely because it's often about wonderfully pithy, sharp, delicious repartee. But too much talk can be the difference between a pass because what you've written is more like a play or a TV show and a green light-because your romantic comedy can really pull people into a multiplex. How active is your script? How visually exciting?
While you may not have the mudslides, wild chases and fireworks 'Romancing the Stone' delivered, you may have a set, a setting, world or a physical comedy opportunity that will open up and enliven your movie. Even the verbal-witty 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' featured a Scottish reel in colorful kilts. Make sure your script makes use of all the cinematic storytelling techniques a good movie- movie uses. Yes, there is a predictable paradigm for plotting that most successful romantic comedies employ you can see it in hundreds of movies, and analyzed in my book.
But that's all the more reason for you to be exceptionally clever, imaginative and ingenious about your romantic comedy's story concept and execution. Four movies from the past decade that were truly memorable made their mark by putting a spin on the standard construct. There was 'boy doesn't meet girl until the last five minutes of the movie' 'Sleepless in Seattle' , 'boy meets girl after they're both dead' 'Defending Your Life' , 'boy only meets girl in and around weddings and a funeral ' 'Four Weddings' and 'boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy loses girl, boy loses girl, ad infinitum, until he finally gets it right' 'Groundhog Day'.
Try to come up with a concept that will enable your rom-com to stand out from the crowd. As the writer, you give…and you take.
In romance especially, make your bad boy a physical specimen of loveliness, in both feature and form. The reader may be irresistibly attracted to the character just as they are repelled by his action.
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But just as in real life, the reader will take his actions with a grain of salt, just because he looks like a Greek god. There was a time when modern psychologists blamed the bad behavior of adults on their parents, particularly their mothers. Times have changed slightly, and while mothers still get blamed, most experts admit that other factors like genetics and extended environments can be the cause for adults behaving badly.
Do the research and find out the real reasons people do bad things. Done correctly, in the world building of your story, the reader will grudgingly understand why the character is motivated to act badly and perhaps feel sorry for him or her. Want to build your visibility and sell more books? Order the book from WD at a discount.
No one is all good or all bad, and neither should your characters be. Create three-dimensional characters that are mostly good or mostly bad, but show cracks in that exterior. Confuse the reader!
Show a bit of tenderness from the bad boy, a dark searching moment for the good guy. Maybe your bad boy is a jerk to everyone but homeless people — and create a compelling reason why in his backstory.
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Your good guy may be perfect, except for when he sees someone being unkind to animals and he goes psycho. Show your good guy get blackout angry, have your villain break down and cry… mix it up. Show the internal dialogue, allow the reader to understand the rationalization that goes on within the character, even if it is all wrong.
There should be some, even for bad boys and villain. As in the real world, people grow and change.