Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Victoria Lucia

4 Tips for Writing a Romantic Comedy in a Traditional Screenplay

Top 4 Tips for Writing a Romantic Comedy

I’m not a big fan of Rom-Coms. There I said it.

The Rom-Com is one of my least favorite genres, and there are a few reasons for that.

  1. The genre lacks diversity

  2. They’re incredibly predictable

  3. I can only take so many meet-cutes, darn it!

So, what kind of tips can I possibly give since the genre’s not my favorite? I’m going to provide you with things to think about that I’ve noticed great stand out Rom-Coms possess!

  • Break conventionality

    Think of "Pretty Woman." Who would have thought the love story between a prostitute and a john would go on to become one of the most iconic romance movies. But it did! And I attribute that to the strangeness and unconventional nature of the plot. “Pretty Woman” is not a film that just relies on its meet-cute and then supplies shenanigan, after shenanigan, until we end up with love. The film introduces us to this world of prostitution, as well as the business world of Richard Gere’s character. It explores the treatment of women in sex work, and what happens when someone from a lower class enters a higher class. It’s interesting outside of the relationship!

    In a genre that regularly deals in the conventional, a Rom-Com that goes the unconventional route stands out!

  • Do the unexpected

    The formula of Rom-Coms is tried and true. There’s the set-up, the meet-cute, the complication, things come to a head, and finally, everything’s resolved. People are in love; we all go home!

    If you can break away from doing what the audience expects, it can make for a more exciting movie. Maybe a character acts in a way we weren’t expecting, or some outside force causes something to happen, but being conscious of ways that break us out of the expected path of the Rom-Com is something essential to think about!

  • Strengthen your characters

    When we’re talking Rom-Com, the whole premise is that we’re going to follow these two characters through various trials and tribulations that will eventually result in their falling in love. Well, for this to work, we need to like the people!

    I’m not saying every character needs to be likable, that’s just not true, but they do need to be engaging! Make them interesting; make the audience want to know more about them!

  • Make it inclusive!

    Be inclusive and write about characters we don’t see as often in Rom-Coms! More recent movies like “Love Simon,” “Isn’t It Romantic,” and “What Men Want” all embrace diversity and feature leads that bring something different to the Rom-Com table.

    Consider same-sex couples, like one of my favorite movies “But I’m a Cheerleader! But I’m a Cheerleader!” written by Brian Wayne Peterson, which follows a high school cheerleader whose parents send her to conversion therapy to cure her of being gay. It doesn’t sound too Rom-Com-y, but I assure you, it is! It’s a hilarious movie, and the main character finds love in the end. It subverts and parodies the genre, takes place in a unique setting, and explores other topics besides the central love story.

    Speaking of diversity in the genre, consider people of other races and ethnicities as your lead characters, or interracial relationships! Recently, I watched “Always Be My Maybe” on Netflix, and I loved it! It was so funny and so cute. While it’s pretty traditional in terms of Rom-Com tropes and structure, I was (SPOILER) legitimately surprised by the absurdity of one of the main characters getting into a fight with Keanu Reeves. It’s just a great, unexpected, fun movie that focuses on mostly diverse characters. We need more of this in the genre!

I hope this blog was able to give you some things to think about when it comes to writing a Rom-Com! Take it from a not-such-a-big-fan of the genre: Thinking about how you can step outside of the box in terms of what’s expected can only help you to write a script that’s sure to stand apart from the rest!

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