Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tickle Your Funny Bone

I've never understood why the film and publishing industry takes a dim look at romantic comedy. The movie critics will poo-poo the latest release in theatres regardless of the stars on the marquee. The gatekeepers in the publishing world will tell you that romantic comedy just doesn't sell well. My response to that is..."Who doesn't like to laugh and fall in love?"

You'd have to be a pretty heartless shell not to enjoy the antics of Must Love Dogs, or My Blue Heaven - and before you say My Blue Heaven isn't a romantic comedy, take note that both the heroes in that movie get their respective girls in the end. I think the contention with RC is that one has to be in the mood to enjoy it. It's not always what the emotional palate calls for. If you are in a mood for Action/Adventure - Serendipity might not be what the doctor ordered. Even me, who adores RC can't just pull one off the shelf if I'm in a bad or indifferent mood and watch one - though I will admit I've been pulled out of a funk more than once by doing that exact thing.

But that's all in the watching or experiencing RC from a fan's viewpoint - what about writing in that genre? It's not as easy as it looks, and I speak from experience.

When Samhain put their submissions call for the "Tickle My Fantasy" anthology, I thought....what the hell, I'll give it a try. I have a paranormal romantic comedy I've started, I'll just think of it in terms of a novella rather than a novel and see what I got. However, thinking of writing something in the abstract and actually going the distance are two entirely different concepts. I knew I could turn the successfully funny one-liner, but could I sustain a fun atmosphere for an entire novella? Who knows?

I did. And I did. But it wasn't always easy. Comedy is as much timing and attitude as it is choreography of characters. I'm currently writing a sequel to - the novella that will appear in the December release of TMF - and I have to say, it's giving me extreme fits. I find the heroine in much funnier than the hero. Sure he's a smart ass, but he's not given to funny. Is that good or bad when balanced against the entirety of the story? Well, in any comedic duo someone has to play the straight man, might as well make it the hero. But is the formula right? Let's face it, one person's funny is another person's lame. I shudder to think I might be writing in the latter category.

I am almost halfway done with the book, so I'll finish it up and then send it on to a beta reader, someone else who is writing a sequel for the proposed TMF2 and see if they laugh. But what is that elusive element that makes people laugh? Is it physical comedy, or Lucille Ball working the chocolate conveyor belt situations? Is it a wacky character outlook to rather normal circumstances and their take on the world that makes a good comedy.

I think it's a combo platter. (I'd like the #5 with eggroll, please!) - Sometimes it's just the premise itself that is funny. I have this idea for a romantic comedy where the heroine inherits a fortune cookie factory but has herself no luck at all. To me, that set up is filled with romantic comedy potential. My premise for was a talentless witch who owns a matchmaking business that caters to the city's paranormal element. Again, comedic potential in the premise. Maybe that is where it starts - the very inception of the idea has to lend itself to wild scenarios beyond the norm. And I don't just mean those of a paranormal nature, but out of the ordinary. Wrong place, right time situations.'s something to think about anyhow.

Until next week, keep a smile on your face and a song in your heart.



Tierney O'Malley said...

Serendipity? I so love that movie. :D
I love romantic comedy, but never thought about writing one. I am more of a maudlin type of an author. I like to feel people's pain and cry with them.

I must say sounds a wonderful read. A talentless witch? I wonder how she managed to match couples. she must be really funny.


Mark Alders said...

Great post and food for thought.

I think romance has never be the same since it got branded as formulaic because of the likes of Barbara Cartland!

Which is why I don't write that sort of romance :-)



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