Writing Romantic Comedies
Many novelists have difficulty combining romance, sex, and comedy into romantic comedy novels. Really, if you have interesting characters with a sense of humor who are facing a huge turning point in their lives, there is no excuse not to have each of these elements in a romantic comedy novel. Yet, it seems like a lot to expect from many authors in this genre.
In explaining how I write novels in this genre, I’m going to throw you a curveball – I write romantic comedies similar to how I write urban fantasy. You see, to me every story demands the same attributes: sympathetic characters and a quick moving plot. Within these two foundations for my romantic comedies, I add romance, suspense, humor, which all work together to heighten reader anticipation.
It seems like a lot, but it’s not. Unless you simply throw them all in and don’t care how you build each of these elements to promote a big reader payoff, then it’s not that hard…at least for those who have spent some real quality time learning how to give each of these aspects the right weight and balance.
If you can give readers a sympathetic character (or characters) that face difficult situations, you have a good beginning. And most romantic comedy novels have these elements. But authors in this genre often don’t infuse characters with the emotional importance needed to undergo the transformation readers need in order to believe the character has come out a better person, in some way or another, by the end of the novel.
So, touching on how important the difficult situation is for the character helps readers identify with them and ultimately sympathize or empathize with the hero or heroine. I always make sure I carefully gauge this component. Those who read urban fantasy do not expect great emotion from their main characters, but I feel it’s an extra bonus that heightens the emotional intensity of any novel that I write. Still, it’s incredibly difficult to add this element to a fantasy novel because if you slow the pace too much, readers often get bored.
And that’s why it’s so easy for me to include emotional depth into characters in my romantic comedy novels. There is no rush. It’s all about character. But again, here is another area where I add more dimension: I have my characters go places and do things that challenge them to face their fears and come out stronger by the end of the novel. They endure some pain and hardship to transform into a better person.
And too many novelists in the romantic comedy genre shy away from reaching these depths for fear that their readers would not follow them into a bit of darkness. After all, it’s a romantic comedy, so I can see their point. Nonetheless, it’s a story. And if people are going to connect with it and identify with the characters and situations they face, it’s very important to add this to a romantic comedy.
Yet, most romantic comedy novelists are too frightened to take this step. Their characters don’t often go on both an internal and external journey. Usually, it’s an internal journey. But to me, it feels static…like nothing has really happened. It’s all an internal struggle inside the characters’ heads. And I demand more than that from my characters. I need movement. I need change. I need excitement.
I see it as a challenge – to improve the state of the genre. More specifically, I want to lift reader expectations in the genre. By doing so, I show readers what they should demand from romantic comedies.
I’ve discovered that there is very little anticipation and excitement in most thrillers and suspense novels. It’s the reason I’ve stopped reading so many. And strangely enough, I’ve found more suspense in historical romance novels than in suspense and thriller novels.
I wanted to overhaul the romantic comedy genre by giving readers the best elements of the suspense genre and applying it to the romantic comedy genre. These genres couldn’t be more different, but what I’m really changing is how the romantic comedy is structured.
And any reader who gives my romantic comedies a shot will see that there is more emotional intensity and more anticipation than they would have thought. They will also discover that my novels provide a relentless desire to keep turning the pages.
Writing romance is difficult because it depends on ensuring that the passion the characters feel for each other is translated to the reader in interesting ways that make readers identify with them and want them to find the romance that they so greatly deserve.
Writing comedy is easy. I’m not talking about funny situations. I’m not a comedy writer. I’m talking about characters with a good sense of humor – and this spectrum could range from observant to quirky to eccentric.
So putting these two elements together is sometimes tricky, but it becomes easier if the novel moves, meaning the characters are experiencing new situations based on the challenges they face. And this is much easier if these characters are forced to make decisions when they encounter these situations.
In the end, it is only when circumstances change that characters change. And I’ve discovered that if I offer enough reason for the characters to change, readers will find my romantic comedy novels are more humorous, more romantic, and much faster paced than any other romantic comedy novels currently on the market. At least…I hope so!