Tuesday, 31 March 2015

REVIEW: Writing and Selling Romantic Comedy by Helen Jacey and Craig Batty

Darling ones,

this just in: cynical reviewer likes excellent book about writing romantic comedies. I know! Le shock, right? Please observe that I said 'like' not 'lurve'. I have a platonic friendship with it, we're not engaged or anything. I was familiar with Helen Jacey's writing, having devoured her book on female heroes and taken part in a workshop of hers at LSWF.

In keeping with Kamera Books' other titles, this tome does not disappoint. I particularly liked its no-nonsense approach to the vexed subject of romcoms. I've always felt that it was slightly sneered at as a genre, yet, when well-written, it's so marketable. The book is informed by the authors' love of their subject (pun intended) and their keenness for the aspiring romcom writer to identify with the emotions that their characters experience. Where else would you find an exercise that requires you to go on an 'conventionally romantic experience on your own'? The idea being to record all your sensations and examine how being with another person would improve it. What struck me about the exercises was how therapeutic they might be to the writer who has experienced heartache (which is just about everybody).

Loads of films are referenced. I watched 'Her' as a result of reading the book. I liked the sci-fi angle but wasn't convinced about the emotional story. That probably says more about me than it does the film, mind. I think anyone trying to write a romcom as a purely technical exercise wouldn't succeed; you do really have to love it as a genre. There are lots of insider insights, top tips and every sub-genre is discussed, exhaustively. I was delighted to see the reference 'sorocom' as opposed to the derogatory 'chick-flick'. In terms of female representation, romcom has the power to be subversive, using the genre to depict the complexities of female friendship. The book cites 'The Heat' as an example of this, and has an extensive list of films for the writer to check out in the index. There's a useful section on finding funding (which seems to change every day), with the advent of Kickstarter et al.

So, a happy ending for this reviewer! Awww. Cue music as reviewer and book drift off into the sunset...

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