Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Romance, Act I

Romance is one of the hardest things to write. Just look at how few popular movies have more it as more than an obligatory sub-plot, and few comics have anything more than a few panels that revolve around a decent romance. There are few romances in the comics, and even fewer when it comes to webcomics. Sure, you have a few out there, but they usually follow the Reed/Sue formula, and you rarely see the romance develop. Writers really need to have fun with romance. I really hate to say writers need to watch more romcoms, but it would help.

The classic path to romance is the same as any decent three-act play. The first act is the meeting and establishing of limits. The two potential partners meet somehow; they are introduced, they trip into each other, they meet at work, whatever. They just need to meet and realize that somehow the other person is someone special. Even if they hate each other, that is at least a beginning. It needs to be established that they are equals on some level in order for the romance to work; they need to have something that connects them, and they need to be equal in that. They can have different strengths and weakness relative to that commonality, but overall they need to be equal in that.

They also need to have equal wills. Screw feminism; they need to be able to say 'NO!" to each other in order for the romance to work. If one person walks all over the other, you have a great set-up for an abusive relationship, but not an actual romance. If they can't refuse the other, you will either end up with an office boy relationship, where one party gets the other to do anything she wants, or a physically abusive relationship, and we're not discussing those here. Without the ability to say refuse service, the relationship will eventually turn cancerous, and that's not what you want. At the same time, an inability to refuse the other does make for a great way to develop the romance, as that will develops over time. So there's something for you to debate there.

So, if you want to start a romance, you need two characters with something in common, equality in that something, and the ability to refuse the other. Once you have established that you have your first act.