5 Elements That All Good Rom-Coms Should Include - Writer's Digest

5 Elements That All Good Rom-Coms Should Include

In this article, author Sariah Wilson explains the key elements that make a romantic comedy a hit.
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Ah, the romantic comedy. The genre is having a resurgence lately as the rest of the world remembers just how awesome rom-coms are and how we should all be watching, reading, and writing them because consuming such amazing content promotes happiness, clears up your skin, and will (possibly) clean out your gutters. So with that in mind, let’s dive into some of the elements that your rom-com novel should include:

Wilson_5 Elements of Rom-Com

The Meet Cute.

This is where the hero and heroine meet. And it’s cute. (Ha-ha, get it?) Like, he accidentally takes her boss’s coffee from the barista and she’s forced to run after him through Manhattan to get it back. Or their dogs’ leashes become entangled, which causes them to literally smack into each other (hello, sexual tension!). Or he’s riding a bike and she accidentally hits him with her car (the last one’s for those of you who think concussions are cute). We want their first meeting to be memorable and adorable so that your reader will immediately be rooting for those two crazy kids to get together.

(What's Missing in the Modern Romance Heroine)

Be Romantic. And Comedic.

This one seems like a no-brainer given that these elements are named in this genre, but you’d be surprised. Go too far one way or the other and it’s no longer a rom-com. Your reader wants romance. They crave it. Like a soccer mom longing for a pumpkin spice latte on September 1. And yes, flowers and moonlit walks on the beach are always enjoyable, but look for the unusual, for something that would be romantic specifically to your characters and make them all melty and glowing inside. These are the scenes that are the montage in the movie—the characters laugh and go on dates and exchange sweet gifts. This is one of the best parts of your novel. Don’t skimp on it.

As for the comedy, this is where you get to display your sense of humor. Slapstick, wry puns, witty banter, snarky commentary, you have access to the full gamut of whatever tickles your funny bone. Keep in mind that no humor is universal and you’re never going to please everyone. So write what you think is funny. Even if no one else does (this will happen often).

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Let There Be Conflict! 

Often as romance readers, we want to stay in our glittery bubble where the men are handsome and you want the women to be your best friend and everything is light and happy and tingly. Unfortunately, this is not why people read romances. Conflict must exist from the first chapter! There has to be something keeping our hero and heroine apart, some reason that they can’t figure out that the person in front of them is their soulmate (which is apparent to everyone else involved in the story, including their friends, coworkers, and sometimes even their dogs). The conflict can twist and turn as the story progresses, but it must be there. It’s what drives your plot.

What? A Breakup? NOOOO!!!!

It has to be done. Like waxing in a sensitive area. Our couple is doomed to have the rug pulled out from underneath them, see their whole world fall apart, for everything to seem unfixable and unresolvable. If we had a happy love montage earlier, here we get the breakup montage. Everything is bleak and sad; gallons of ice cream are consumed, thousands of hours of Netflix are watched, personal hygiene is neglected. But your couple will soon realize that they’re willing to overcome any obstacle to be together and will find a way to work things out and be together forever. And hopefully, this path will be both romantic and comedic (see above).

(7 Comedy Writing Techniques & How Clichés Are Used in Writing Humor)

And They All Lived Happily Ever After.

Again, the title should explain everything. This does not mean the hero fades away after saving the heroine (I’m looking at you, movie that rhymes with Far Bores). This is a happy ending. The genre demands it on pains of death for not complying. This is everything coming up roses. Along with a satisfactory resolution for their relationship, all of the other non-romance conflicts the hero and heroine have been dealing with also get resolved (like, they finally land that new job that comes with an office decorated in shades of shiny chrome and pink. Oh, and an expense account). It means the antagonists get their comeuppance (cold coffee for the rest of their lives). Declarations of undying devotion are made, the reader gets their fill of warm fuzzies, and for a little while we get to believe in the power of true love.

And in times of trouble and stress and constant hardships, is there anything better we can give our readers than the belief that with a little humor and a whole lot of love, things can and will work out for the best? 

Writing the Romance Novel

Do you yearn to write a romantic story? If so, this workshop will help you to understand those specific factors that make up the specialized world of romantic fiction.

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