Thursday, March 30, 2006

Need Rom Com Recs

A pathetic truth washed over me just now like bad hair color. My rewrite sucks. The fault is not in the structure, dear Brutus, but in the ambiance, mood, atmosphere, or whatever you want to call it. Although the story is not a romantic comedy, the relationships in my drama are too flat and boring.

I have two options here -- (1) watch a bunch and learn from a few rom coms and (2) spend a few hours a day taking notes on male/female interaction at bars, malls, restaurants and a transatlantic cruise to Rome. Okay, the cruise isn't necessary but the relationship part is. Why? Because I do not have a girlish romantic notion lingering in my over 40 head and I write clinical, predictable, and organized love. What the? I'm out of touch! What is up with that? Am I really that dull, flat, and impersonal? (that is rhetorical)

Checked my video closet just now and guess what? I have over a hundred movies but apparently, I don't watch Rom Coms! Gee, could that be the problem? I have three -- While You Were Sleeping, When Harry Met Sally, and You've Got Mail. Most everything else will either make you want to cry or thrust you into some kind of no guts/no glory campaign with lines like "for England and for the prize!" or "Freeeeeeeeedommmmmmm!"

So, dear readers (yes, all five of you), I need viewing assignments (no porn). Give me some Rom Coms that will jar my romantic memory and transport me back to that time when I cared if my dress made me look fat, changed my clothes a dozen times before a date and wondered whether or not my meal would give me onion breath.


mernitman said...

In addition to When Harry..., for modern era rom-coms that work, I'd suggest this baker's dozen to start with:

Annie Hall
4 Weddings & a Funeral
Jerry Maguire
Groundhog Day
Say Anything
Working Girl
Broadcast News
Bull Durham
High Fidelity
About a Boy

For older pics and tons of cross-genre stuff, try the "100" list in my book (pp.255-264, 19-28).

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I knew it. You're gonna make me buy your book. Very well.

Hey, I have Working Girl, forgot about that. Love Tootsie and Groundhog Day. Seen some, but not all, of the others.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Okie doke. Went to Amazon thinking there was only ONE book which I would eventually get you to write something very personal and embarrassing in -- but there are three books. Must I look on page 255 and 19 of each of them? And, while I was at it, thought I'd go ahead and get your CD (singular) but there are two. You're just too damned good for me.

derek said...

I don't know if you need all that. Try simply getting to the roots of your characters. Pulling them apart, putting them back together is a standard circle. Is that in your script?

If so, the problem might be more fundamental. As far as interactions go, the thing that seems to work is how one character changes the way another acts. The impact one character has on another. Could be big, could be small. If you can replace one character with another and there's no change, then they don't have a strong enough impact.

That's why their absence (pulling them apart) works so well most of the time. Because being together changes each of them in a way only they can do. This will build up when they're together, and make the reader want back when they're apart (or at least feel sympathy for them).

Just a thought.

Alicia said...

Ran and checked the video shelf and Billy's list is missing two of my faves: (1)Love Actually -- but ANY Richard Curtis will do and (2)The American President (sadly Aaron Sorkin's only feature). Then there are always the John Hughes rom-coms (16 Candles, Pretty In Pink, Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful...).

Hope that jogs and memory or two for ya! :)

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I think American President is tbe only one on your list I've seen, Alicia. Sheesh.. check that out "only, one, on".. who starts three words in a row with "o" and "n"? It's not alliteration, but it still looks weird. I will not rewrite it, I will not rewrite it, I will not rewrite it --

Robert Hogan said...

Go see Failure to Launch, just forget all about Sarah Jessica Barfer, and focus on Zooey Deschanel and Kathy Bates's characters.


Grubber said...

Okay, going out on a limb here.

Can one of your characters be a little flat and an interesting way, sort of Monkish way...not romantic....and a romantic type person fall for them. One is all gooey eyed, one is all rigid and non-romantic....can you get friction out of that?

Scott the Reader, Billy have all said that people seem to be following this formula....maybe you have something to work with there that may be different. Not sure. Just a different take.

Also, if don't normally watch Romcoms, again for a different take, can I suggest Grosse Point Blank, I see that as a dark romcom at its heart.

Konrad West said...


Well, I'm a sucker for romcoms, but despite learning heaps from Billy, I still don't understand why The Wedding Planner didn't make $500 million at the box office.

Anyway, you have to watch Something's Gotta Give, As Good As It Gets and There's Something About Mary. All offbeat, all witty, all beautiful.


Why isn't your book on Google Book Search? You should be jumping up and down to get your publisher to put it up.

Uberpossum said...

I'm not sure that a viewing assignment is the ticket. You'll see how other people approach romance but it may not jar your romantic memory. I'd start with music. That crappy stuff that you can't stand now but seemed so right when you first met that special someone who made every glance special and your palms sweat. Then I'd go for scents. Dig in that bottom drawer and find that fragrence that you should have thrown out years ago. Finally, sit somewhere different, not in front of your computer and flirt with half of your fictional couple. Don't worry, no feelings will be hurt. Write down the conversation. Throw out most of it but keep the romantic parts. Might be worth a shot.

shecanfilmit said...

I was going to suggest Billy's book. I have recently bought it and am about to crack on the advice of a good friend. He read it and said it contained topnotch advice about rom com writing.

chris soth said...

Also good and modern era:

Serendipity, IMO

Surprised Billy left out some classics...but I guess we're all modern up in this piece.

His Girl Friday -- and if you want to focus on relationships/banter --

you gotta go to Hepburn and Tracy...

Pat and Mike
Adam's Rib

Whatever else they got...

And Philadelphia Story...

And for modern AND I the only one who loves The Hudsucker Proxy?


PS. Just got thru two weeks of computer hell...missed all my fellow bloggers!!!!

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Chris, I have His Girl Friday. Forgot that one. Good call.

Uber, okay, I'll give it a try but I don't really think the Carpenters will do it for me anymore.

Konrad, haven't seen Something's Gotta Give or Wedding Planner. Will rent those along with some of Billy's suggestions.

Dave, that's exactly what I'm going for, but unfortunately, it comes off as forced. I need to freshen it up.

Derek, this is actually a drama but the relationship between my characters just feels so, hmmmm..need a word here, need a word here,..SANITARY!

Robert, still haven't seen that but my 22 yr old son said Terry Bradshaw was good with the exception of his bare butt which held no interest for the boy. Go figure.

Douglas Cootey said...

I write clinical, predictable, and organized love

I thought of "Just Like Heaven" when I read that. But I still liked it.

"You've Got Mail" was an anti-romance. It felt like an arranged marriage. I hope you won't pull inspiration from that. ;)

I've looked over my collection and I see "Bell, Book and Candle", "Sabrina", "Better Off Dead", and "Notting Hill".

But I believe uberpossum is on target. You'll be better off pulling from your own experiences and memories than finding inspiration in somebody else's Rom Com. Dialog is what makes a convincing Rom Com more than setting anyway.

The Splintered Mind - Overcoming Neurological Disabilities With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I had forgotten about Sabrina! I have the original Bogie version AND the remake. How could I forget that? Alas, I'm hopeless!

Anonymous said...

go for the Hugh Grant triumvirate: Four Weddings, Notting Hill and About A Boy.. I did

Douglas Cootey said...

Both versions have their appeal. I thought both of them were too old for the girl. LOL

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Well, yeah, Douglas but Harrison Ford is too old for me, too, and that wouldn't stop me from dating him. Of course, he wouldn't ask. I'm not the size of a pea.

mernitman said...

Ditto to Konrad's picks and of course Notting Hill (for that matter, anything Curtis, including the overlooked Girl in the Cafe) because whether you love him or hate him his stuff WORKS...

And yes, of course dig into your own romantic history because NOTHING is more golden than the real humiliations, passions and combustions of your past, but the most important thing?

Your new profile photo is nice and sexy...

MaryAn Batchellor said...

I'm searching for my mysterious and romantic side. I'll update my failure in a post.