Friday, April 13, 2012

The Modern Romance: The Key to Writing One

Love and Other Drugs is, IMHO, one of the best romantic movies I've seen in the past decade. There are others, but this movie...as soon as the ending credits came on the screen I wanted to re-watch the movie. It was that good to me. I think to a certain extent Hollywood has taken romantic comedy and stabbed it repeatedly in the heart with shitty movies. But I think the bigger issue is that once you slap a label on something people believe the story must fit a formula. They must cram all those key and identifiable elements into that formula so people aren't sitting there confused about what they are reading or watching. They (whether it's movie moguls, editors, agents, writers, etc.) forget that good story trumps all. Easily identifiable elements of genre do not make story. And worse, I often see those elements used to SELL a story is used to TELL a story.

That last is key. You can say I have an Alpha male and spunky heroine. This is why you should buy this book/movie. There's a huge difference when you tell a story of a Alpha male and spunky heroine. Why are they who they are? How do they fall in love? Why do they fall in love? If you stripped them of Alpha and Spunky, what stands in the way of the HEA? That's the story.

Which, is why I'm going to say Love and Other Drugs is a modern romance. The marketable element that is familiar within romance is I don't want to love YOU, in the form of Friends with Benefits. The writer is smart and he puts it in a fresh and none too familiar backdrop of Pharmaceutics. The heroine has Parkinsons. It creates the meet cute. Because of her disease she really doesn't want to settle down. She doesn't want to have THAT type of conversation, much less relationship. He's so not ready to settle down. Apparently one has to have charm to sell drugs. 0_o There is tons of sex. But when you have sex like they have sex you get to know someone. Your life gets entangled. So does your emotions. The movie is marketable. But the story is about what happens when you fall in love when you sure as shit don't want to fall in love. It takes that selling point and shows character, tells a story.

So, why am I calling it the Modern Romance? Much less, one of the best I've seen this decade? Because I think this movie best encapsulates what it means for people to fall in love. When Harry Met Sally was made in the late 80s. Pieces of that movie definitely has a time stamp on it. Yet, I still consider this a modern romance. The selling point is Friends to Lovers. If you've sat down and watched this movie you know it's about Harry, a man who has preconceived ideas about women and love, falling for a women, Sally, who has completely different ideas about men and love. For me, that will always be modern--people. Not gimmicks or concepts or marketable elements. People. Write a story about two people falling in love and you can't go wrong. You'll end up with a Modern Romance.

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