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Change of location

One thing I love about romantic comedies (one of the many things) is how creatively they use locations. Because rom-coms are so dialogue-heavy, they would get very boring if they stayed in the same place. Instead, you get scenes where characters are talking, but they’re also taking a dance/exercise class (they often did this in Sex and the City), or browsing in a bookshop or (a bit over-used this one) strolling in Central Park.  One great example is in When Harry Met Sally, when Harry is telling his best friend about how his wife Helen has left him. They’re at a ball game and poor Harry’s story – with its punch-line, ‘She said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever loved you”,’ is constantly interrupted by him standing up to join in the Mexican wave. If they’d been sitting in a bar, it would still be a great scene, but the location makes it unforgettable.

 

After I wrote the first draft of If I Could Turn Back Time, I realised too much of the action was taking place in pubs, or inside the heroine’s flat– and it didn’t help that one of her love interests was her flatmate. So I got her off the sofa and sent her out to play tennis in Maida Vale, rowing on the lake in Hyde Park, dancing in a Spanish club in Hanway Street, and even surfing. Often, the key conversation didn’t change, but just changing the location added so much more variety and atmosphere.

The location can also help give a scene added significance. In Girls on Tour, Lily takes stock of her visa situation in America while standing inside the statue of Liberty and looking down over Manhattan. It sounds really obvious but this gave the scene more impact than in the previous draft, where she and Maggie were just discussing it over lattes. Not that every key scene has to take place with your characters on a lake or up a ladder or something, but you get the point.

So in summary, I suggest using locations as much as you can. You get all the fun and variety without having to worry about sets, parking, or getting permission for filming!

 

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