John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Hijinks Ensue [writing]

It has been said of my writing, and I tend to agree, that it needs "more action."

I recently read Billy Mernit's book Writing the Romantic Comedy, and one of the things he mentioned as a pitfall of romantic comedy writers is they tend to fall into the trap of having people sitting around chatting cleverly to each other, while nothing happens. Well, nolo contendere, I gotta say.

To combat this, Mernit recommends that the would-be romantic comedy writer make a point of including a "set piece" in their work -- i.e., an action sequence, or a location rife with comedic possibilities (a posh restaurant, a costume party, the Groundhog Day celebrations of Punxatawnie), wherein hijinks can logically ensue. The characters can still chat cleverly all they want -- but they'll be in action, rather than in repose.

I was thinking on this topic (among others) when I was watching Wallace & Gromit yesterday. W&G have a terrific knack for having lots of things happen, even amongst their light, tongue-and-cheek country cottage comedy. I mentioned the car chase yesterday as a particularly notable example, but really the movie is full of them. Heck, the whole climactic sequence at the Harvest Festival is pretty much one long set piece.

My problem is that I'm a word-oriented sort of guy; when I can pull off a bit of slapstick and actually have it be funny, I savor it -- but it isn't something that comes naturally to me. I need to start working on cultivating my Funny Situation Generator ... and I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any.

-The Gneech
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