Romantic comedy movies are box office darlings. They make great date movies and girls’ nights out. Maybe even some boys’ nights out too?
Here are some story devices you can use to really add some punch to your romcoms:
1) THE GIRL/GUY IS SWORN OFF LOVE
Following a messy breakup, a string of bad dates, well-meaning family and friends determined to set your character up with the perfect spouse, a job promotion leaving no time for romance, or simply a desire to be alone, all make for strong motivations for your main character to be “not looking for love at the moment.”
This really raises the stakes of your story because the main character’s attitude is the first romantic obstacle to meeting that special someone. The second obstacle is getting and staying together.
2) THEY ARE SWORN ENEMIES
I love this plot device. Both romantic potentials are vying for the same trophy. But there can only be one winner.
Perhaps they are sporting competitors, were friends in a previous life and things ended badly? Maybe one had to fire the other or one cheated on them? Anyway, when they lay eyes on each other after a while, sparks fly. And not of the romantic kind.
3) THEY ARE UNAVAILABLE
This is a tricky one. It could mean emotionally and physically unavailable to commence a relationship. Perhaps the guy/ girl is married/ engaged or in a stable long term partnership? What if one of them is recently divorced, widowed or hurt from a previous relationship? These factors can really hinder the chances for love.
4) HIS/HER FRIENDS HATE THEIR DATE
This is always a hindrance when you really want your friends to like your new romantic prospect. Your main character would love their friends’ support, but instead they come up with a million reasons why the relationship would never work. But love will always find a way.
5) THEY HAVE A PAST
Oooo. Everybody loves a mystery. What would be a deal breaker for your main character in search of love? How do they know when Cupid’s arrow has struck a dud? What would make them say no? They’ve had way too many partners, they’re too religious (or non-religious), they engage in illegal activities, they’ve been to prison, were in a cult, or their childhoods are too messed up for them to have a functional love affair. Hey, nobody’s perfect. So things could still work out.
6) THEY’VE BEEN IN LOVE BEFORE
Are you ready for take two? Imagine these scenarios of why the fateful couple had to split up. One lover had to move away, had difficult life circumstances to deal with, or they were in bad emotional places at the time, so they couldn’t be together.
7) ONE OR BOTH HAVE ISSUES
This one brings out the psychologist in every writer. What issues might your characters have that prevent them from falling in love? Are they a mommy’s boy or daddy’s girl? Are they immature? Do they have commitment or intimacy issues? If so, will they be able to overcome them?
8) ONE OF THEM HAS A SECRET
I love secrets and I promise not to tell. What if the girl is a witch, a vampire, a werewolf, zombie, alien has superpowers, a guy, transgendered or a swinger? Perhaps it’s a marriage of convenience to please their families or it was a fake marriage to stay in the country or receive tax benefits?
Keeping a secret is hard work, but what happens when their partner finds out? Will they work things out, or will they go their separate ways? You’re the writer, so you decide.
9) THEY’RE JUST FRIENDS
At what point do good friends become a couple? Are they friends with benefits? Soul mates? Are they exclusive? Your characters better sort out their feelings for each other if your romcom is going anywhere. They need to end up together one way or another.
10) FORBIDDEN LOVE
This is more than disapproval from society. Forbidden love means that they will be ostracized or rejected from society. Even worse, their lives could be in mortal danger. Consider a love story between two sparing cultures where our star-crossed lovers suffer a terrible fate? Okay, you don’t have to go full on Romeo and Juliet, but how about a sorority queen falling in love with a jock from the wrong high school?
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2 Comments Add yours
Some fine ideas. It’s also good to check out old-school romcoms (’30s, early ’40s). Cary, Carole, Powell and Loy still can provide inspiration 75+ years later.