by Brooke Williams
One of the questions I hear a lot as a romantic comedy author is, “where do you get your ideas?” It’s a good question, really, but it’s not something I can answer in just a few words. And, as an author, it’s much easier for me to write about the answer than to try and explain it. So now, I present to you, some of the places I grab ideas for romantic comedy writing.
#1 My Life
Do I feel like I met my husband in the midst of a romantic comedy? Not particularly. He’s a quiet sort of fellow and we met online back before online dating was a popular thing to do. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t go on dates in the past that I can now twist into something that fits a romantic comedy. Or, I just use pieces of my life and give them to a character. In “The Dating Itinerary,” for example, the characters, who are a little loopy after a long night of work, start playing the game Girl Talk. If you grew up in the 80s, you’ll know the game I mean. It’s something I used to play with friends myself. I use past experiences, funny things that happened to me, funny things that happened to others that I witnessed, fictionalize them, and place them into the books I write.
#2 My Imagination
Some of what comes out when I write is simply made up. Plain and simple. In “The Dating Itinerary,” my latest romantic comedy, my main character, Penny Coyne, is tasked with writing a weekly column on different dating avenues. She tries things like matchmakers, tinder, speed dating, and so on. One of the things she has to try is called Dark Dating—a completely made up (as far as I know!) form of dating that I came up with. Dark Dating takes men, puts them in chairs in a completely dark room. The women move through the room, guided by the employees, and feel the men’s faces. Based on feel alone, they choose a man to visit with and get to know in another room. I don’t really know where the idea even came from. It just popped in one day and then made it into the book the next day.
Lots of funny things happen on TV and in the movies. While I don’t take scenes from those places, they can definitely spark ideas. I might grab a name from a TV character to use as a first name. I may like the look of someone’s hair and then try describing it for a character. There might even be a setting that brings something to mind and can become a great place for something to happen in a book.
#4: From Lack Of Sleep
This is strange, but it is more true for me than anything else. I only began writing romantic comedy when my daughters were born and I had less sleep than I ever had in my life. I’d written before that, but apparently I wasn’t funny. Now, though, not sleeping works to my benefit. I see the world in a different way and get joy from making things happen to characters (the poor characters) that allow other people to smile and maybe even giggle at their expense. When I wrote my first romantic comedy, I had a baby who didn’t appreciate sleep. Ever. I didn’t know it was a romantic comedy, but when my editor told me as much, I recognized it for what it was. Now, I see the scenes forming in a way that brings a smile to the face. On the days when I’m the most tired, I’m also the most silly and really, a better writer. Much to my chagrin because I really do adore sleep.
#5: My Daughters
There are appearances from children in some of the books I have written and at times, they say things that have been said to me by two little girls who happen to live in my house. In “The Dating Itinerary,” the main character, George, had a nephew. Some of the cute things he says and does are fictionalized things we’ve seen or hear around here.
In the end, it’s fun to hear where things come from and how ideas grow. But as long as the book makes you smile and gives you even a slightly better day than you were having, then I’ve done my job.
One person who comments will win a $5 Amazon gift card!