Romantic comedy as a genre is exploding right now. After the last year and a half of pandemic life, it’s not hard to understand why. After all, it’s been a hugely successful film genre for decades, but while some people will re-watch their favorite film a gazillion times, not all readers treat books the same way. Not to mention most readers consume books like the world will run out of paper.
I’ve been gorging myself on a large number of romantic comedies myself this year. Let’s face it, romantic comedies tend to be high on laughs and low on language and sex, even if they aren’t Christian or inspirational fiction. And though the racier rom coms are growing in popularity, so are Christian ones. (Yay! Finally!)
To be honest, I’ve been kicking around dabbling in the genre myself recently. Considering my natural inclination for hyperbole, I’ve been thinking it could be really fun to experiment more in my writing. Really let my voice loose and quit holding back all the crazy, silly, fun things my spastic brain comes up with. Plus, I’d get to write in first person all the time. Present tense even! Both of which tend to be no-nos outside the rom com genre. Not a lot of people who read serious books (aka literature spoken in a very austere tone) admit to also liking the sassy silliness of a good rom com heroine.
Why are romantic comedies so awesome? For me, it’s how well a book balances the romance with the comedy in the following key elements:
- The meet cute
- Chemistry and tension between H/h
- The potential for disaster
- Messes and miscommunication
- Serious moments that matter
- The grand gesture/make up
It must be original or creatively executed. We all know there’s going to be an HEA. After all, it is NOT A ROMANCE without one (I dare you to argue that point). But if any one element tips too far toward romance, it loses the funny. Too far toward comedy, it loses impact in the romance department.
For example, when the H/h have major miscommunications, it can really amp up the potential for laughs. Too far, though, and we want to smack one or both because it’s stopped being funny and threatens the romance. Two enemies might have chemistry galore, but a funny situation can quickly become unromantic (which then becomes less funny) if one character behaves too badly at the expense of the other. It’s a carefully crafted cycle!
My favorite books are the ones that balance tension and angst with humor and lighthearted fun. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what constitutes a great romantic comedy.
Does the whole story have to be funny, or just at a few key points? What are some books you’ve found that really strike a good balance? Is there anything that drives you crazy when things go off balance—either in a good way OR a bad way?
Looking forward to chatting with you in the comments!