Rival in a rom com

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  • Rival in a rom com

    How do you decide if the protaganist needs a rival for the love interst's affection? I'm assuming it's mainly a plot device cuz so many of these rivals ( or "Bellamies" as Mernit calls them ) - when they're used- are so perfunctory ( no real character development or substantial subplot).
    " Life is high school with money. " Frank Zappa

  • #2
    Re: Rival in a rom com

    Rivals/characters are perfunctory if they're written that way. There is usually a threat/obstacle to the happiness of the main characters because a story with conflict is usually more interesting than one without.

    In It Happened One Night King Westley and Ellie's father, Andrews, are in the story very little but without them there is no obstacle to the happiness of Ellie and Peter.

    The Julia Roberts character in My Best Friend's Wedding is a very different kind of romantic obstacle and her character is fully explored.

    It just depends on how you want to tell the story. The characters just have to be believable.
    Last edited by ComicBent; 10-06-2005, 06:04 AM. Reason: To remove HTML code, which is turned off on this board.
    Craft maximises talent

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    • #3
      Re: Rival in a rom com

      This from Billy Mernit's Writing The Romantic Comedy:

      "The Bellamy [ aka the Other Man or Woman , the Wrong Guy or Girl ] has a dual function: while presenting a conceivable altrnative to the romantic antagonist ( and thus becoming an obstacle to the central romance), this supporting character helps define who the protaganist is and isn't. "

      There are rom com's where this character is dispensed with, e.g., How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, or Hitch. But in Bridget Jones' Diary the Hugh Grant character is central to the whole escapade.

      I guess what I'm asking is how do you determine whether you need a Wrong Guy or Girl. I suppose there's no clear-cut answer- it all depends on the story you want to tell?
      " Life is high school with money. " Frank Zappa

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      • #4
        Re: Rival in a rom com

        In My Best Friend's Wedding, Julia Roberts is the protagonist and that's why her character is fully explored. I'm fairly certain that it's not a good idea to have a two-dimensional protagonist.

        The key to the story is to fully flesh out the antagonist, Cameron Diaz, the romantic rival. Many lesser romcoms fail in this department. This is when the romantic rival ends up as just a plot device.

        If you decide to use a romantic rival, it should be organic to the story; otherwise, it will just feel tacked on, thus seeming perfunctory.

        "We're all immigrants now, man."
        - Zia (Patrick Fugit), "Wristcutters: A Love Story"

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        • #5
          Re: Rival in a rom com

          I think you have answered your own question - it does depend on what kind of story you're telling.

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