A fine romance, my friends this is

Sinatra sings “A Fine Romance”

Romance.

It’s everywhere. Or is it?

I’m looking for your thoughts on the genre of romantic comedy.

I’ve written a number of romantic plays. They usually involve broken relationships being put back together – or not. But as I look back at those plays, I find they’re all period pieces: 1870’s San Francisco, 1950’s New York, late ‘50’s Los Angeles. I’m now working on a romantic comedy set in present day Washington, DC. And I’m stuck.

In this cynical town, in our ironic age, I put on my Carrie Bradshaw hat and ask: “is there still such a thing as modern romance?”

Name your favorite rom/com – “Philadelphia Story,” “The Lady Eve,” “Roman Holiday” – all of an earlier era. Most current films in the rom/com genre are snarky. Or artificial and insincere. Or dark, like “Silver Linings Playbook.” But the success of that Oscar nominated film reflects an audience’s craving for real romantic comedies.

Which brings me to my current dilemma.

After slogging through “serious” plays, I decided I needed a break. I wanted to write something fun and romantic. It’s tougher than it looks.

Boy meets girl. That’s easy. They’re opposites in some ways. The verbal sparks fly. There’s some physical attraction, but because of their professional relationship, nothing happens. So how do you push them to that next level, both sexually and romantically? How do they tell that other person that they’re interested? How do you break down the physical walls? How does a modern couple admit they’re in love without it ringing hollow?

My writing pal Ellen says we’re afraid of writing true sentiment. Maybe we are. I cringe as I write self-described “sappy” scenes. (Ah, that horrid interior critic!) I’m embarrassed by my own work. Not because it’s bad writing, but because it’s mushy. And I haven’t even gotten to the tougher challenge: writing the physical stuff. Even my premise starts sounding stupid: “Pride and Prejudice” set on Capitol Hill.

I believe in romance. Certainly I lucked out and found a guy who likes to dance and laugh and remembers our anniversary. So I guess I’ve seen modern day romance in action. I know it’s out there.

So why is it so hard to make it work on the page?

What do you think? Is there such a thing as modern romance? How does it work for you on the page? Hints? Suggestions?

1 Comment

  • By Shaula Evans, May 25, 2013 @ 12:18 am

    Hi, Kitty. First off: “Pride & Prejudice” on the Hill? Brilliant! If House of Cards could put Richard III/McB in DC, I don’t see why you can’t do the same with Jane Austen. Go for it!

    Is there such a things as modern romance? Well, I’m madly in love with an amazing man who swept me off of feet and never stopped sweeping, so I can second your good luck and say, “Me, too!”

    How do you make romance work on the page? Excellent question! Strong, three-dimensional characters with external goals that are separate from romance are a good start.

    > How do they tell that other person that they’re interested? How do you break down the physical walls? How does a modern couple admit they’re in love without it ringing hollow?

    Subtext, subtext, subtext! With a big dollop of stage business to hide it under.

    When I was prepping to write a romantic comedy (feature screenplay) a while ago I compiled some great resources, which I’m now in the process of transferring to The Black Board (where you are very welcome!) I hope you’re already aware of Billy Mernit’s blog Living the Romantic Comedy (http://www.livingromcom.typepad.com/) which is an excellent start.

    I really do think the Austin idea is excellent. I wish you the very best with it!

Other Links to this Post

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

*

WordPress Themes