Yoyo, what’s going on? It’s Flobo here with another post where we gab about the joys of creative writing.
You ever wonder about “romantic subplots” in films, television shows or books? You know, it could be the biggest blockbuster of the summer—complete with robots, aliens and their ilk—but somehow thirty minutes of the run time is devoted to the main character trying to court the other main character (usually of the opposite gender)? It’s funny that no one really finds this weird, even though if there were a true disaster going on there would be no time for a dinner date.
Well, the reason for this is two fold:
1) Demographics. You may or may not know this, but when it comes to movies most studios track audience responses across something what’s known as the “Four Quadrants”; older and younger males, and older and younger females to be exact. While there’s no problem in assuming that guys (with waaaay too much time on their hands) will show up for a three hour movie about giant robots that pose as automobiles, studios get a little skittish about fearing that ONLY guys will buy tickets. Even though we watch movies with our own eyes, movie going is really a social activity and so it would behoove a flick to appeal to both women and men. Modern trends nowadays say otherwise, but classically it was believed that a love subplot would make the bitter pill easier to swallow for ladies .
Because men don’t want love in their explosions, apparently.
2) Likeability. Romantic subplots are a (depending on how you look at it) clever or cliched way to make your main character likeable. A hardened tough guy mowing down a bunch of people with a machine gun? Disturbing. A hardened tough guy mowing down a bunch of people with a machine gun because they kidnapped his wife? Completely understandable.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any kind of film, or novel, or television show without SOME love story. We are our most vulnerable when we open up and “fall in love” with somebody. Pretty much your brain throws logic out and throws the rest of your feelings in a blender. You are perpetually out of your comfort zone, and your actions reflect that. When a a fictional character goes through same ordeal, we can instantly relate. We all have that memory of wanting to stop that person we have a crush on and tell them how we feel (while they are boarding a flight to somewhere exotic, most likely) or trying to understand and appreciate our beloved’s culture so we can understand their customs…
Now with the exception of “Love, Actually”, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”, “Hitch”, and to a lesser extent “Slumdog Millionaire”, romantic movies just don’t do it for me. My heart is too cold to appreciate romantic movies because I usually have outright issues with plausibility. Confessing my love in the pouring rain would probably get me nothing more than a restraining order, not an epilogue scene containing my wedding.
Not that I WANT a wedding or anything.
Now with that said, usually my long form writing has some sort of romantic sub plot going on. It’s just the rules of the road. The challenge (and the fun part) is finding ways to keep this “necessary evil” fresh. What do I mean? Well check out the normal Romantic Comedy Formula:
Meet Boy. Meet Girl. Boy bumps into Girl. Boy and Girl pine for each other. Boy goes out on date with girl. They fall in love. Some complication tears Boy and Girl apart. Boy and Girl are miserable. Boy chases down Girl, confesses love. Girl accepts. Fade to black.
And if it’s a Tyler Perry film, add a cross dressing grandma and a song number!
There’s plenty of ways to mix that up, so try to experiment. Now back to blockbuster movies adding romantic subplots. A lot of times I feel they don’t make the story stronger at all.
As always, keep writing