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For December we'll once again post our annual Christmas stories! This year's first line to start each story: She'd never seen a Santa suit used in quite that way.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Romantic Comedy vs. Drama...Finding the Balance by Jannine Gallant

It occurred to me our two movies this month represent these categories. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is drama. Crazy people in an insane asylum. Screams drama, right? He's Just Not That Into You is billed as romantic comedy--a group of young adults filled with angst over their romantic problems. Their situations are silly and over the top and funny. But there's a darker side to their problems, as you'll find in most romantic comedies. The balance is necessary, or the film turns into an...um...Jim Carrey movie. LOL As for our Cuckoo's Nest, well, have you ever seen Jack Nicholson not be funny? He lightens a serious situation with some really comic lines.

So, basically we need to mix our drama and our comedy in the right proportions to come up with a winning combination. Whether it's in a movie...or a book. I never really thought about it before, but subconsciously I've been doing this all along in my writing.

Asking For Trouble is romantic comedy. I've mixed an inept uncle (the hero) with his precocious baby nephew, and thrown in a heroine who saves his butt on more than one occasion. The resulting situations are funny. (At least I hope they are.) But underneath runs a thread of heartache for both characters because they feel their life goals are simply too different to find common ground, despite the love they share. A little tragedy mixed with the babysitting mishaps. Without the drama, my book would have turned into a Three Stooges episode.

I also write romantic suspense. Some of it can be pretty dark. In A Deadly Love, a serial killer is cutting the hearts out of women--literally. But there's a giant dog who constantly digs holes in the neighbor's yard and a grandmother who wears tie-dye and has some great one-liners. They make the reader smile. (I hope.) Again, a little balance to keep the reader entertained while they bite their knuckles, wondering who the killer will strike down next.

So, do you like your romantic comedy with an underside of drama...and vice versa? Or is mixing genres not your thing?

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20 comments:

J.C. McKenzie said...

I'm definitely a "e your romantic comedy with an underside of drama" kind of gal. Great post. :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks, JC. Romantic comedy is a great way to relax, but having drama present keeps you from falling asleep!

kaydenclaremont said...

I can't colour in the lines of one genre either. Thanks for posting, great read.

Jannine Gallant said...

We were all probably challenged with crayons! LOL

Susan Coryell said...

I, too, mix genres--cozy mystery w/Southern Gothic--taking what I believe are the best characteristics of each. Gothics always have such dreary endings, for example, but a cozy can be--well--cozy at the denouement. And, let's remember: All romance involves conflict. So...have it both ways! Thanks for the thoughtful post.

Alicia Dean said...

Excellent point, Jannine. I definitely enjoy a little balance, too. But, I'm much more about the dark drama stuff, with a bit of humor mixed in. Sometimes, the humor can be a little twisted. :) Both of these books are excellent examples of how to do it both ways, and they are both fantastic books!

Jannine Gallant said...

Susan, Wow, that's quite a combo--cozy and Gothic. I like it! You're right about the conflict. We have to have it, even in the lighter stuff.

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks for the high praise! I was going to use my new historical, An Uncertain Destiny, as a drama example. But I couldn't come up with any humor in it. (My bad--surely there must be some twisted humor!) Definitely my darkest work to date. I know historicals aren't usually your thing, Ally, but this one might appeal to your love of dark drama!

Barbara Edwards said...

I do tend to like the darker stories, but a touch of humor is always necessary to keep it from becoming dreary.

Jannine Gallant said...

I agree, Barb!

Diane Burton said...

I love romantic comedy and enjoy serious drama IF there's light-hearted moments for relief. I think the reason I'm having trouble with my WIP is because the subject (human trafficking) is so serious that I can't find any humor for relief.

Donna Michaels said...

Great post, Jannine. I love writing and reading mixed genre's, and especially love when humor is sprinkled throughout. Keep it up!

Jannine Gallant said...

Hi Diane, that is a tough subject to joke about. What about giving one of the bad guys a pet to lighten things up a tad. For some reason I'm thinking a parrot. He could say things that make the characters (and reader) smile now and then.

Jannine Gallant said...

Donna, yep, gotta keep it light when you can. I'm finding the new suspense series I'm working on has a lot of humor in it.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Shakespeare, in his plays, taught me the value of humor in dark moments. He would have a tense scene with theatre goers on the edge of their sears and suddenly have two goofballs give a couple one-liners that had everyone laughing. Too much of one thing...terror, emotional angst and even comedy...can be tiring to the reader or the observer. That's why the mix you speak of is so important.

Jannine Gallant said...

You're right, Vonnie. Shakespeare does have some real nuts in his tragedies. The graveyard scene in Hamlet springs to mind. We learned from the best in all those literature classes in college!

Leah St. James said...

I'm with you, Jannine. The most engaging plots (whether in book, TV or film) blend multiple emotions.

Jannine Gallant said...

Yep. Leah. The best TV dramas have a funny character to lighten things up around all the dead bodies!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Mixing it up is what keeps the readers reading. IMO. Your thinking makes sense to me! AD is right. Both are fabulous books!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks, Margo. Appreciate the vote of confidence!