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

Romcom’s i words

An ongoing series about how to write romantic comedy.


INo “i” word for romantic comedy? Alas, a single word was elusive. Here are several favorite “i” elements.

  • Interest: a quality that attracts your attention and makes you want to know more.
    In other words, a plot that is more than just the usual “hot body” romance. You’re not sure where the story is going, but my, is it fun to read.
  • Intelligencemental acuteness : shrewdness.
    You discover unexpected elements to surprise and delight your thinking mind. The heroine is not stupid, and neither is her story.
  • Irony: the incongruity between what is expected and what occurs.
    And then there is that delightful turning of the tables, in which a self-assured character becomes unexpectedly vulnerable—and best of all, knows it.

The search for an excerpt to illustrate these was not easy. Here we have a slice of a scene with Elizabeth and McGillvary (whom she thinks is someone else) discussing, of all things, himself!

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“I am sorry to say it, as he seems to be a friend of yours,” said Elizabeth, “but it is common knowledge that the man is a skirt-chaser, Mr Gill.”

“It is common knowledge,” he said grimly, “that his marriage was unhappy!”

“Aren’t most marriages?” she countered. “But that does not excuse disloyalty.”

“Disloyalty?”

“I find it amazing that these military officers, like Admiral McGillvary, can be so flippant about their vows! They will lay down their lives in service to the crown; they will keep their word of honour to their fellows at all cost. But to their wives?”

Patrick McGillvary was rendered speechless. Ranting about his high-handedness at Chalfort House, disclaiming his opinions, scolding him for vulgar business practices—these he expected. But never this.

“Unless they are like my sister’s husband. Constancy seems to be his only virtue.” She returned the ledger to her basket and reached for her gloves.

“You’re leaving.” His voice sounded oddly flat.

“I’m afraid so. I’ve much to do before tonight.” She looked up at him and smiled—a wistful, unguarded smile.

She thinks I’m Gill. He had dropped countless clues today, yet she had followed none of them. He swallowed and looked down at his hands. What had he done?

They shared a hack for the trip home, but as they neared St. Peter Square, Elizabeth coughed. “Let me off at the corner, please,” she said.

What else could he do but comply? For he was Gill, the clerk—her friend, but not one she could own. He opened the door and assisted her to alight.

“Elizabeth,” he said. He kept hold of her gloved hand. “Will I see you tonight? At the assembly?” He could feel his lips pull into a smile—the said, half-desperate smile he had seen on the faces of so many women. It was now his turn to plead.

Elizabeth dipped her head with adorable coyness. “Perhaps,” she said, smiling. And then she removed her hand from his and was gone.

The trip to Belsom Park was accomplished in silence, save for the voice of conscience. It was a voice to which Patrick McGillvary had not listened for a very long time. Today, it shouted.

Liar!

He repeated it aloud as the carriage turned into Belsom’s gates and past the guardhouse. Liar. The word had a raw, unsavoury bite. And it was the exact truth: he was a liar.

As the clerk Gill, he had won her trust and confidence. How had he repaid her? “I have lied,” he said aloud. “I have lied and lied and lied. Even today.”

So great was his self-loathing that he did not react to the sight of a marine’s horse being led to the stables.

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Tomorrow we’ll examine Jealousy.

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