How to write a rom-com


22 March 2022
Ten top tips on writing romantic comedies by leading rom-com author Della Galton

Romcoms (romantic comedies) have become increasingly popular over the last few years. They are escapist and fun and a brilliant antidote to a pandemic or any of the other trials and tribulations of life. But how do you go about writing one? Here are my top ten tips.

1. Balance the rom with the com

As the name suggests they should include both romance and comedy but don’t forget to balance the rom with the com. Ideally there should be some of each. How much of each will very much depend on an individual author’s style. Too much comedy can send your novel heading into slapstick territory and too much romance might make the reader feel short changed.

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2. Your heroine

Make sure your heroine fits the role you are giving her. Today’s leading ladies are feisty and independent and probably won’t be waiting for a knight in a white charger to ride by. She doesn’t need rescuing. She needs a hero who will add to her life and her to his.

3. Your hero

Likewise, your hero should be strong. No one’s going to fall in love with a wimp – I’m talking emotionally here – he doesn’t have to be a muscle-bound Adonis.  But he should also be flawed, not a cardboard cut out stereotype. Both of your lead characters should have enough flaws to be real and believable.

4. Your setting

Create a fabulous setting.  You don’t have to whisk your readers off to a Greek Island (although you certainly can if you like). But do choose a place your readers will want to keep coming back to. Islands are always romantic. So are cities. But maybe your characters live in a tiny coastal village, or a thriving market town. Choose somewhere you love. You are going to spend a lot of time there, especially if your novel turns into a series, so make it somewhere you’ll want to keep coming back to as well.

5. Should places be real or invented?

I do a mixture of both. I use real counties, cities and towns and I make up streets and venues within them. So I might invent a pub on the Dorset coastline or a coffee shop in Shaftesbury. This gives readers some context and identification but makes it easier to avoid offending any actual people living there.

6. Conflicts – internal and external

What’s keeping them apart? Make this a believable part of the story line. Give them strong and valid reasons for not getting together on page one. Or if they do get together on page one, reasons to split up again.

7. Subplots

There should be enough going on so that we’re not entirely focused on the romance. Both hero and heroine should have their own lives, jobs, families, problems, hopes and dreams. All of these things provide opportunities for comedic moments.

8. Supporting characters

You’ll need a full supporting cast. Parents, best friends, siblings, children, exes. All of these will need to be developed in some form.

9. Sex: Beyond the bedroom door? Or not?

Sex is probably going to figure – this is after all a romance. Your characters are going to end up falling into each other’s arms. Whether or not you take your readers beyond the bedroom door will very much depend on what kind of readers you have.

10. Happy ever after

A romcom by its nature is likely to have a Happy Ever After. Although of course if you are writing a series of romcoms with the same characters this might not be in book one. However, book one will still need an upbeat ending or your reader may feel cheated.

• Bonus tip

Above all, have fun writing your romcom and the chances are your readers will have fun reading it too.