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!