Writing the Romantic Comedy: The Art and Craft of Writing Screenplays That Sell

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9780060195687: Writing the Romantic Comedy: The Art and Craft of Writing Screenplays That Sell

From the slapstick shenanigans of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby to the sexy repartee of Shakespeare in Love, romantic comedies have delighted filmgoers-and challenged screenwriters- since the early days of Hollywood.

Writing the Romantic Comedy is the first screenwriting guide to focus exclusively on the mechanics of this ever-popular genre. Whether you're a firsttime screenwriter, an intermediate marooned in the rewriting process, or an armchair enthusiast looking for an insider's perspective on what makes the genre tick, this thoroughly charming and insightful guide teaches you everything you need to know in order to craft a winning script. All of the romantic comedy basics are covered-from setting up an interesting and inventive story concept to creating characters that set off sparks, laughs that go deep, and dialogue that gets right to the heart.

Written in a refreshingly accessible style, Writing the Romantic Comedy is a lively guide to the essentials of character, theme, and plot development. It features case studies drawn from classic and contemporary romantic comedies as well as field-tested writing exercises that will short-circuit potential mistakes and spark inspiration.

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Review:

According to Billy Mernit, all the Hollywood studios--and most major actors--"are actively seeking romantic comedies." But the same studios and actors reject hundreds of romantic comedies a month. Mernit should know. As a story analyst who has read nearly 4,000 screenplays in the last 10 years, Mernit has seen the good, yes, but also too much of the bad and the ugly. With Writing the Romantic Comedy, Mernit presents his UCLA Extension rom-com writing workshop in book form. Believe it or not, it's not enough to have Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks play the leads. You actually have to create characters for them--characters that an audience will believe "absolutely must end up together." Mernit manages to lay down ground rules without seeming rigid: "he can't be in it only for the sex"; "she can't be in it only for the money"; "at least one scene or sequence [should be] laugh-out-loud funny." Mernit offers five ways to bring your characters to life and seven basic romantic comedy "beats." He has chapters on chemistry, humor, dialogue, and sex ("in romantic comedy, there's nothing sexier than sublimated sex"), and he draws generously upon the surprisingly small canon of great romantic comedies to demonstrate his points. Finally, given that the conflicts in romantic comedies are internal, you needn't look far for inspiration when you feel stuck. "Think of one of the most painful, humiliating, embarrassing things that ever happened to you with someone of the opposite sex," he says, and go from there. --Jane Steinberg

About the Author:

Billy Mernit teaches "Writing the Romantic Comedy" and four other courses at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. During his many years in the entertainment industry, he has worked as a script consultant and served as a story analyst for Universal Studios, Sony, and Paramount; written for NBC's Santa Barbara; and composed songs recorded by Carly Simon and Judy Collins. With his wife, Claudia Nizza, he is the coauthor of That's How Much I Love You.

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