Romantic Comedy Structure

Romantic comedies like all films follow a certain structure, a certain set of codes and conventions. Traditionally, the romantic comedy genre centers around the idea of a boy meeting a girl and that no matter what happens their love will always strive through any obstacle that is thrown at the in the end. According to Billy Mernit’s, Writing the Romantic Comedy, every ‘rom-com’ share these points (Mernit, 2000).

The Chemical Equation: Setup

This is the initial introduction our main characters. What is there current situation? What are they looking for? What’s missing in their lives?

Cute Meet: The Catalyst

This is the incident that initially bring our two main characters together. This will be some interesting or cliché scheme that results in the two meeting and some sort of conflict may arise.

A Sexy Complication: Turning Point

At this stage in the film, a new development will arise and our two characters will noticeably clash for the first time, their first major argument.

The Hook: Midpoint

The moment when the two characters being bound together. The girl might see something she really values in the boy or see his true colours under his somewhat vague personality. This can also be the moment when two friends see each other differently for the first time.

 Swivel: The Second Turning Point

Our two characters have once again become even closer, but of course there has to be another problem to arise. This will most likely be the original conflict just reappearing in a different form.

The Dark Moment: Crisis Climax

The consequences that are seen at this points descends the film into absolute chaos. The character finds out about a lie and motives are revealed, or a character is extremely humiliated. All hope seems to be lost and what the character desires the most seems to be gone forever.

Joyful Defeat: Resolution

All is well and the two lovers reunite and reconcile. The answer has been discovered and the couple see why they fell in love in the first place. Sacrifices will be made for the greater good and the two main characters will experience a happy ending.

These are the main points that form the structure of a conventional romantic comedy. Many films will strictly follow this structure or will break it where it is appropriate. Notting Hill (1999), is a perfect example of a Romantic comedy that follows these conventions. 500 Days of Summer (2009) is a film that completely flips these conventions but still follow the same themes.

References:

Kenworthy, D., et al. (1999). Notting Hill. Universal City, Calif, Universal Studios.

Steelberg, E., et al. (2009). 500 Days of Summer. Beverly Hills, Calif, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Mernit, B. (2002). Writing the romantic comedy (1st ed.) New York: HarperCollins World.

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One thought on “Romantic Comedy Structure

  1. As someone who loves a solid rom-com every now and then this was very interesting. I’ve never given it much though really, the formula used to create a good rom-com, but it makes sense that there is one seeing as there are often many similarities. Learn something new every day, no? Great post, very interesting.

    Would you be interested in sharing your thoughts and opinions on Movie Pilot? I’d like to invite you to join the platform, and I’d love to hear from you so I can to expand on that. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail, my contact details are on my “About” page. Hopefully talk soon!

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