Are you wondering how to combine romance and comedy in your story? This post is for you! In it, we’ll show you how to write a romantic comedy novel. Read on!
1. Make it light and comfortable
Romantic comedy novels are read primarily by readers who wish to escape the daily struggles of life and enter a world that is light, full of humor, and mostly free of struggles. For that reason, a romantic comedy novel (unlike a romantic drama, for example) is a novel where the themes that are being tackled might be serious, but the manner in which they are handled is light and easy.
For example, perhaps the main theme of your novel is a person accepting who they are before they are able to have a good romantic relationship with another person. In your novel, the protagonist does not need to wallow in self-pity or be in a dark place mentally speaking in order to let the readers know that this person does not accept themselves.
Instead, they can do that by being self-deprecating, a bit cynical, and unable to believe that another person would want to fall in love with them.
2. Create compelling protagonists
Both romantic leads of your novel need to be compelling. They should be fully formed people, with good attributes (not just physically, but in terms of their personalities as well), and they should also have flaws, mostly the type of flaws that ensure they hurt themselves instead of other people.
For example, while it is compelling to write about a protagonist who doesn’t like people and is rude to them all the time, this rudeness should never dwell into cruelty towards other people (or animals). Quite the opposite, actually. There is something compelling about a hero who is rude to most people due to personal psychological reasons, but is kind to children and animals.
Additionally, it might be compelling to write about a heroine who is picking up the pieces after having something traumatic happen to her. However, the type of trauma that she has endured should fall within some limits imposed by lightness. Perhaps she just lost her elderly parents, or lost her dream job. If what she endured came out straight out of a horror movie, then perhaps her story belongs in the romantic drama genre.
3. Use dual point of view
Most romantic comedy novels are written by the heroine’s point of view, and the readers mostly get to see how the hero affects the heroine and what makes him special for her.
Using dual points of view in a romance enables the readers to spend time in both the hero and the heroine’s heads, and be “in-the-know” about what kind of an effect they have on one another. You can use both of their narratives to deliver the story and also create suspense, by having the readers know something about the hero or the heroine that they do not know about one another, and vice versa.
More importantly, it allows you to ensure that the readers understand why these people like each other, where their chemistry comes from, and what makes the heroine special for the hero.
4. Choose the romantic plot
Romantic comedies have the romance as the main plot – wherein the two protagonists meet each other, fall in love, try to date or have a relationship, come across a certain, relationship-ending conflict, and then they realize they cannot live without one another, talk things out, and get back together.
However, the type of romantic plots and how they get to the final point can vary. You have different type of romance plots: enemies-to-lovers, friends-to-lovers, the protagonists can be roommates, neighbors, they could have known each other their whole lives, or they could have just met.
Maybe they had a relationship as teenagers that failed, and now they have found themselves again after many years, which is second chance romance. They might be coworkers, in which case you have the workplace romance, and so forth.
5. Create a proximity subplot
Alongside the main plot revolving around the romance, you need at least one major subplot that will ensure the hero and the heroine spend time together because they have to. For example, if it is a workplace romance, place the hero and the heroine in a situation where they have to work together on a major project with both their jobs being on the line if it fails.
In another example, the hero and the heroine might have to work together to renovate a house – maybe the heroine is an interior designer and the hero wants the house renovated because he just got divorced and everything in the house is as his previous wife left it.
No matter which path you choose to take, ensure that the hero and the heroine need to spend time together and most importantly, work together to achieve a common goal that it outside of their romance. In fact, not only is it outside of their romance, but their romance can directly affect the outcome of this project/subplot.
6. Have interesting secondary characters
The secondary characters in your novel, the friends and family members of the protagonists, can be the life and joy of the story. These secondary characters need to be interesting and well developed as well as have character arcs by the end of the story.
For example, perhaps you have a friend of the heroine who is pressuring her to reject the hero’s advances because they do not believe in love. By the end of the novel, this character should show a change in attitude and accept that the hero has been honest all along, and realize that they allowed their personal beliefs to cloud their judgment.
Additionally, since this is a comedy, you can also have children as characters, especially precocious wordy children, as well as pets who are quirky. Both could become the source of a lot of the humor and lightness in the novel we mentioned above.
7. Create romantic scenes
Within the events of the plot and the proximity subplot, ensure to create both accidental and intentional romantic scenes. In the beginning of the novel, as the protagonists are just starting to like each other, you can have accidental romantic scenes.
For example, perhaps the hero and heroine need to go up to the mountains to get something, but get stuck there due to a snowdrift and now they need to rent a cabin for the night. The setting of a cabin in the mountains is romantic, and this moment can be the first time they acknowledge that they like each other and perhaps share a kiss or have a moment of emotional connection.
In the latter half of the novel, once they start dating, the romantic scenes should be on purpose. This means getting to go on interesting dates (that are beyond just a dinner and a movie), dates like doing something fun together that the hero or the heroine has not done before but has always wanted – or have been scared to do.
For example, perhaps the hero never rode on a rollercoaster because he was afraid after a bad experience as a child. One of the dates later on in the novel could be the heroine taking him to a theme park and encouraging him to go on a ride with her.
8. Add a lot of humor
Considering that the genre is romantic comedy, it automatically follows that you need to add a lot of humor in the novel. You can add this humor in the narration – if the protagonists are a bit snarky and sarcastic, this would show in how they describe the world and the people around them. Please be aware that you should not overdo it, lest you create protagonists who are ultimately unlikable.
You can also add humor in the situations the protagonists are in, using the previously mentioned children and animals, as well as in the side characters and what they do or how they speak. Creating banter between the characters can also be a source and an opportinuty to add humor as well.
9. Create inner conflict in the protagonists
Previously, we mentioned that at some point in the romantic plot, the hero and the heroine are facing an issue that could break their relationship. This moment is a climax point in their relationship. This issue needs to stem from the inner conflict that the relationship is causing the protagonists.
Ideally, both the hero and the heroine should have an inner conflict that prevents them from fully giving in to a relationship. Perhaps the hero did not realize until this climax point that he was ultimately not ready to be vulnerable and fall in love, while the heroine had understood the same from the start and was taking a risk by agreeing to date him.
In the abovementioned example, the heroine would start to notice the hero push her away, which leads to the conflict between them and a moment where it seems that they are going to break up and not get back together.
10. Ensure a happy ending
There are two types of happy endings in a romance novel. The first type is the happily ever after (commonly referred to as HEA for short). This type of ending is where the protagonists either get fully committed for life by the end of the novel, or get engaged or married. It is clear by the end that like in happy fairytales, they will get to live out the rest of their lives together,
The second type is the happily for now (HFN). In this type of ending, the hero and the heroine get back together after the conflict, and they will continue to date in the near future, but it is left a bit open-ended as to whether they will spend the rest of their lives together or not.
This type of ending is suitable for romantic comedies of the YA genre, for example, but it can also work in adult romantic comedies if that is the happy ending that the characters need. As such, the type of ending you’re going to use would depend on the protagonists and what kind of a happy ending they envision for each other.