Wanting to write a romcom? One can, I would imagine, go to Google and up will come a pretty formulaic way to go about it. It’s funny (funny strange, not funny ha ha which, after all, is the subject of this piece) but, with my teaching head on, I know exactly how to explain Pythagoras in Maths or The War of Jenkins’ Ear in History, but stand me in front of a creative writing class and get me to explain how I’ve actually written - and sold – ten Romantic Comedy novels and I’ve now come to the conclusion the characters somehow write it themselves.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

However, if your characters are not being overly helpful in the creation of your romcom, you might find the following six points more so.

1. Must have a sense of humour: I don’t honestly know how anyone can attempt a romcom without having one of these. It’s not a matter of telling jokes brilliantly; to me it’s the humour behind the absurd. I give the example, this week, of my daughter looking at a night time photo of our back garden on my iPad. “Is that the International Space Station,” she asked seriously, peering at the screen, “or a crumb of that flapjack you’ve just eaten?”

2. Find your own voice: To be honest, I never really understood what this meant until, after writing a couple of romcoms, I had a go at going “straight.” I have every respect for authors who can switch from comedy to psychological thrillers and back again. It seems I was unable: my voice, the one that finds humour in most situations, would take over and I’d end up wanting to say something humorous to the devastated family of the murder victim. Not helpful.

3. Dialogue: is probably the most useful tool you have in expressing your comic voice. The funniest situations can be portrayed through a whole page of dialogue without any actual recourse to setting, character’s appearance or even plot.

4. Character: Your main character, and quite probably the love object as well, has to, by the end of their journey, have learned something about themselves. Although preferable that they be pretty strong characters to start with, they need to grow, become a better person, more understanding, more loving – and lovable – if they are to ride off into the sunset with The One.

5. Having a sidekick: Your protagonist, in their journey towards ending up with their love object, needs a foil - a jester even - someone to encourage them, to make them laugh when all seems lost, to help pick up the pieces when it actually is, as well as cheer them on to the winning line when it isn’t.

6. Conflict: You can’t have a romcom without some form of conflict between the protagonist and the love object. The reader expects this, and will feel totally short-changed if it doesn’t happen, with the inevitable making-up to look forward to once this conflict is resolved. A good rule of thumb is to manage the conflict, when all has been going well, perhaps three-quarters of the way in. A perfect example of this is in Pride and Prejudice when Lizzie is convinced Lydia’s bringing disgrace to the Bennett family will come between herself and her new found love and respect for Darcy.

Simple! Get writing!

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