A romantic comedy, also known as a Rom-Com, is one of the most beloved genres in cinema history. Whether it’s a couple looking for a film to watch together, someone wanting to have a great laugh, or a person looking to relate to a film, Rom-Com’s are excellent. Still, there is a fine line between developing a great Rom-Com and balancing the comedy and romance balance.
As a result, down below will discuss some essential tips on writing a Rom-Com script. We’ll discuss the basic structure of a Rom-Com script, the importance of introducing love interests early, the reason to find love early, the best friend, developing romance, and much more. Let’s take a look!
Still from 'Pretty Woman'. Photo credit: Narrative First
Basic Structure of a Rom-Com Script
The biggest issue with novice Rom-Com scripts has to do with their structure. Although it’s ideal for developing a truly original story, that story needs to follow a particular structure for it to work. That structure has thankfully mainly been laid out, differing slightly depending on the script’s style.
Introductions - A Rom-Com script should always begin with introductions to the main character, their goals, and why they seek love. The character’s love interest doesn’t need to be introduced right away, but it should happen sooner than you think.
The Meeting Moment - You can either introduce both characters before them meeting or introduce the love interest during the meeting moment. The meeting moment is critical to show if each character shares the commonality of liking one another right away.
Falling in love - Even if one character isn’t interested right away, the falling in love moment typically happens around the halfway point. Now, there are some Rom-Coms that are about a couple breaking up. In that case, their breakup should happen here rather than the falling in love moment.
Turning Point - An extraordinary Rom-Com has a comprehensive display of drama. No one will appreciate a great Rom-Com story if there isn’t any conflict along the way. The turning point is when the conflict starts to build up. The characters could cheat, get into a fight about something, make a significant mistake, or do anything that affects their love for one another.
Breakup - No matter how happy you want your script to be, every Rom-Com script features the two love interests breaking up at some point. Even if they never dated but were in the process of dating, take a note of how their relationship can end. Again, the breakup needs to happen for the sake of the story.
Ending - The ending is where you can choose to have the characters go their separate ways, get back together again, or leave it more open-ended. The choice is entirely up to you, but remember the audience’s reaction with what route you go with.
Introduce Love Interest Early
Going off the general structure of a Rom-Com script, it’s essential to know the significance of introducing the love interests early. Think of a film like Perks of Being a Wallflower. Although it falls under the coming of age spectrum, its romantic elements are tied with Charlie (Logan Lerman) being introduced early.
Every great Rom-Com or film with romantic elements features a main character that’s introduced early. Even if the love interest isn’t introduced for 30 pages, that main character needs to be established early for the audience to follow along. We need a character to root for.
Give the Protagonist a Reason to Find Love
A Rom-Com isn’t about two characters randomly meeting and falling in love. It’s a more profound message of why the characters are seeking love in the first place. Are they two characters with traumatic pasts that meet at a party? Or are they old friends that randomly bumped into each other at a store? The specifics matter, so get creative with it.
Give the Protagonist a Best Friend
Every character in a Rom-Com has a friend or a group of side characters that are a part of the story. These characters can help influence their decisions moving forward and allow them to vent their frustrations or interest. The side characters tend to be comic relief in this script style.
Develop the Romance
Many novice screenwriters rush into the romance portion of the Rom-Com script. After all, the romance essentially makes it a Rom-Com, thinking it’s what the audience wants. The romance needs to be developed with the characters wanting it at separate times, building along the way.
Keep Characters True to Themselves
Whatever decision you make for your characters, remember that it needs to stay true to the character themselves. Every decision should be represented by who they are. If a character is exceptionally introverted, their decisions should revolve around that, even if they’re trying to be more social. Be mindful of staying true to the characters, especially at the end.