Key Elements Of A Romantic Comedy


Billy Mernit, is a purveyor of romantic comedies. Like all genre conventions, there are various patterns which consistently emerge.

Boy meets girl – boy gets girl – boy loses girl – boy gets girl back, with the inverse being true as well. Either way, after much bickering and overcoming obstacles, the lovers end up together.

Here are the some secrets of romantic comedies according to Billy:

  1. Write the Chemistry – The outer journeys should oppose or duel with each other, but their inner journeys should converge
  2. Expand the Genre – Move it from the bedroom to the jungle or disguise it within another Genre (Romancing the Stone, Wall-E)
  3. Be Cinematic – Make it visual… show the concepts, don’t just speak them.
  4. Make sure the concept is a ‘high concept’ to get noticed (50 First Dates)
  5. Tweak the Formula – Mix up the structure (500 days of Summer)
  6. Romantic means sexy and comedy means funny – Use the characters’ flaws against them in comedic situations, misunderstandings and comedic reversals
  7. Show a bit of skin (or a lot)
  8. Many great comedic moments happen when the private matters of a relationship are made public.
  9. Add a rawness and authenticity to show the path to love is never smooth.
  10. Ensure your lovers work hard to be together, even though they hate (or don’t notice) each other at first.

Daniel Manus mentions the following common setups for romantic comedies:

  • Finding a lost love or childhood sweetheart
  • Getting a message to the person you love before it’s too late
  • Connecting with the friends or family of the person you love
  • Overcoming distance
  • Trying to break up a couple because they don’t belong together
  • Getting someone’s attention who doesn’t know you’re alive
  • Finding out something about the person you want to be with so they think you have something in common
  • Proving you aren’t lying or cheating to someone
  • Having to track someone down
  • Best friends who fall out of touch and then find each other again later in life

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