Great characters, great comic moments, great romance
By Elizabeth Aston
I treasure that quote from a review in the Chicago Sun Times, and it sums up for me what writing romantic comedy is all about.
I love reading and watching romantic comedies, from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to Legally Blonde and Meg Cabot. That’s an important factor for an author, especially, if like me, you find it impossible to write the kind of book you don’t want to read. Literary agents and publishers have from time to time urged me to turn my hand to whatever is the hot genre of the moment and I’ve always resisted, however tempting the offer. For instance, I don’t like reading about desperation and disease and depression and I certainly don’t want to write about it. Dostoyevskian darkness of the soul is one thing, the sentimental pornography of doom and despair quite another - as Jane Austen famously said, Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.
And writing romantic comedy is the exact opposite of dreary misery. It must sparkle and scintillate, it must end happily and it must be written with an underlying optimism - not a Panglossian ‘All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’ - but in a spirit of mirth and the belief that even in difficult times, the vital human gift of a merry heart will delight readers and audience.
I’ve written quite a few romantic comedies under the Elizabeth Aston name, both near contemporary (the Mountjoys series) and historical (the Mr Darcy’s Daughters series). I’ve also written several books under my other name, Elizabeth Edmondson, which are much darker and more serious.
How can I do both?
I can’t imagine not doing both.
Think of food: we like to balance a substantial and savoury main course with a deliciously wicked dessert. Think of wine: sometimes we enjoy a serious burgundy and at other times we fancy a glass of champagne. Think of clothes: today we want to dress in pink boots and have a dash of pink colour in our hair but tomorrow we feel like elegant tailoring and sleek high heels.
I alternate my books for the most part, a serious historical mystery or gothic such as The Frozen Lake or Devil’s Sonata by Elizabeth Edmondson, and then, in complete contrast, a light-hearted RomCom like Mr Darcy’s Daughters or Volcanic Airs under my Elizabeth Aston persona.
Mind you, the same writerly truths apply. You must have fascinating characters (and, in my novels, far from ordinary ones), and these are the nerves of the storyteller’s art. You need a strong plot, with twists and turns – these form the bones of a story. And drama, emotion and action are the fictional muscles essential for any good novel.
Then, for romantic comedy, you also need a worthy pair of opponents in your heroine and hero, and you have to write about them and their romance with wit and humour - and finish it all off with a flourish in the shape of an upbeat, amusing and completely satisfying ending.
Enjoyable? Yes, tremendously so. If we don’t enjoy what we write, then why do it? And, here’s the moral - if I don’t enjoy writing it, people won’t enjoy reading it.
Links for Elizabeth Aston:
Site and Blog: http://www.atticabooks.com/ea/?page_id=4
Please comment below about what you like about romantic comedy and enter to win a copy of Children of Chance, the prequel of the Mountjoy series. Elizabeth will pick a winner of this ebook next week! Available in all ebook formats.
Giveaway Grand Prize: Everyone who comments is eligible to win a lovely hematite bracelet and earrings seen here (http://www.charmsoflight.com/bracelets/Hematite_Hearts_Bracelet_Br-He-001.html; http://www.charmsoflight.com/earrings/Hematite_Heart_Earrings_E-He-001.html).
Elizabeth will pick a lucky winner for the Grand Prize in mid-October and can ship anywhere in the world. Good luck!