A to Z Challenge 2014 · How to write Romantic Comedy · Romcom Alphabet Soup

Amok, what Romcom is all about


An ongoing series about how to write romantic comedy.

Writing romantic comedy is a lot like making Stone Soup.

Remember the story? A traveler, footsore and hungry—he’s your story idea—arrives in a village. The villagers—your creative brain cells—view him with suspicion and refuse to cooperate. They won’t share anything. He knows they have food hidden away, and for a time he’s stumped. And then, being clever, he hits upon the idea of making Stone Soup.

It’s all about that Stone.

That is to say, the Click or the Hook. That catchy, sparkling pivot point around which your story revolves. The thing that gives it life and vitality and zing. Into the pot it goes, while the water boils merrily. Like the villagers, bit by bit your creative mind circles round, developing interest and expectation. Ideas begin to bubble up and are added in. The traveler, whistling innocently, stirs the brew while the villagers bring more and more ideas. At last, voila! A tasty story to enjoy.

Our Blogging Challenge letter for today is A, and I have chosen ‘Amok.’

Amok is where things go gloriously and rollickingly wrong, like the wild ride of a roller coaster. It’s safe, it won’t come off the tracks—and the reader knows this—but it doesn’t keep her from enjoying the ride. One would think that the more drops and spins and loops, the better. Or maybe not. Why not?

Because the cleverness of the Amok matters.

And this is where your job as the writer gets tough. Because the obstacles you toss in, though incredible, need to be both believable and unexpected. Your characters need to act in ways that make sense. And the plot twists, though logical for the story context, shouldn’t be predictable. Yeow! A tall order.

As a storyteller, are you trustworthy?

That question simmers in your readers’ minds whether they realize it or not. Readers are trusting you to take them on a joyride, and you dare not disappoint. As soon as your characters act in ways that aren’t believable, the reader is pulled out of the story. Trust is broken, and your book risks being set aside. If, like me, you have intelligent readers, you’ll need to be on your toes.

We will cover the ‘Too Stupid To Live’ heroine later. As well as lame story conflicts.

At the end of the day, you must craft a happy ending.

That’s the comedy part of romantic comedy. You’re not writing tragedy. Romcom is an escape from the drudgery of real life, rather like mind candy. And unless you’re Nicholas Sparks, you must deliver happiness. If you do it right, your reader will relate to your plot complications, empathize with your heroine’s struggles, and cheer at her expected-but-unexpected final victory. And buy your next book.

This type of writing is anything but easy.

For sure you can’t be a lazy thinker! Many writers are, and their books are those we don’t bother to finish. Or hurl across the room in frustration. Don’t be that kind of writer.

Tomorrow we’ll tackle another key Romcom element: Banter.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

LH-bio badge-lg

23 thoughts on “Amok, what Romcom is all about

  1. Perfect analogy. I’ve read lots of romances where the hero is a stone–lumpish and brainless–while the heroine is watery both in spirit and because she cries at the drop-of-a-hat. Ugh. Those stories are the ones that leave readers in the soup.

    Looking forward to what the Queen of Banter has to say tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are the books I throw across the room, well … figuratively. My respect for books makes that hard to do. But there are books that I won’t even donate to charity. Into the recycle bin they go. No other reader should be subjected to reading such tripe! 😦


        1. Well, golly, that’s true, Susan. Guarding an author of tripe’s dignity is what I was thinking. Doubtless there are those who dislike my books and think they’re lame. So…to Goodwill book buyers, I say, “Caveat emptor!” (Let the buyer beware) πŸ™‚


    1. I’m discovering so many new blogs. Part of the A to Z Challenge, for those of you who don’t know, is visiting five new blogs each day. Thanks for stopping by, Linze.


    1. Hi, Andrea.

      I discovered when writing this that amok can also be spelled amuck. And that one of the definitions of amok is “a murderous frenzy that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Malaysian culture.” Who knew? Thanks for stopping by.


    1. Girlfriend, your entire month, every day of it, has been running amok! I’m surprised you have time to visit this blog, let alone be able to read anything. Or think of a response. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

      As for these Challenge posts, beginning tomorrow I’ll adopt a somewhat deplorable tactic. I scout the day’s idea, and then I illustrate using a short excerpt from one of my books. Yes, I’m actually doing this. Never, ever will I use my own writing with students—perish the thought! It’s so self serving! But with the A to Z Challenge, time is short and the posting schedule is relentless. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

      So you can guess who you will see tomorrow for Banter. (Or maybe not. I kind of use Banter in all my stories)

      And then there’s Thursday’s post about the Cat Fight…

      *happy sigh* Right now I’m ahead of the calendar, and I’m fighting to stay that way. Now off to do my Camp NaNo writing.


        1. That’s because she’s me. Sadly, I identify much more with her arrogant opinions than I should, and wish I could get away with what she does. You’re right. Elizabeth and Mr Gill it is. πŸ™‚


  2. You make an excellent point that the reader is, subconsciously, to doubt the writer’s trustworthiness at any time. We really do need to earn that trust.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. All the best with the next 25 letters πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

Would you like to leave a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s