I know that writing "funny" is anything but easy. I've done it at times, but being a full-time comedic writer? That's a grind and a half for many reasons. So I "get" that people may not know how to write comedy that's truly laugh-out-loud funny.
But when you're writing rom-com, there's still a romance to consider, too. And the writers I've encountered over the past several days--with a few notable exceptions that can be counted on the fingers of one hand--can't do that, either.
What is it about romance now that eludes so many writers?
Don't get me wrong: it's not like I'm encountering sex scene after sex scene masquerading as "romance." (You only get that nonsense in places like RWA. And, yes, you can quote me on that.) I'm talking about a romantic deficit that seems to think that one kiss is a relationship...or one flirtation...or one bickering "conflict."
In other words, yeah, I'm seeing a lot of beginner mistakes in these stories.
But it's kind of sad that they're not the same kind of beginner mistakes that I, and so many of my now-published colleagues, made in our early attempts to write love stories, either.
We tended to err on the side of "they're getting along way too famously way too fast."
Now, I'm seeing "romances" that deal with relationships that are toxic...
...that are decaying right there on the page...
...or that don't have a spark of excitement ANYWHERE. Not even erotic excitement. Which also isn't "romance," but at least is something a writer can work with as a jumping-off point.
In other words, if the state of romantic fiction is reflected by the entries I've been reading over the past few days...we need help.
I got to the point where I started muttering, "People, people, people. For heaven's sake. Turn on the Hallmark Channel once in a awhile, will you?"
Hey, it may not be highbrow...but at least it's got the emotion in the right places.
It's a start.
In the meantime, there are contest entrants out there who are gonna get their hearts broken by this particular judge--but that, unfortunately, can't be helped.
If you don't WRITE what the category is about, I'm not going to pretend you DID.
I did give extensive feedback on most of these stories. Which'll probably put them at least a leg ahead in the game when they go onto paper the next time.
In the meantime, I can only prescribe rom-com movies. Enough of those, and you'll internalize the genre, and maybe next time...you'll actually write it.