Experts say…

It’s always a joy to discover after I’ve done something that people who know what they’re talking about say it’s exactly what I should do.

And so it was with much delight that, while researching a presentation for my screenwriting group, I came upon writing guru Michael Hauge’s “Essential Elements of Romantic Comedy.”

They are:

•The heroine must be involved in some sexual or romantic pursuit, trying desperately try to win (or win back) the love of another character.

• The heroine must pursue an additional desire. Pursuing two goals adds originality and accelerates the pace, and when the desires come into opposition, the conflict increases.

• The characters never think their situation is humorous. Motivations grow out of pain and loss; humor arises from the heroine’s overreaction to her situation—including devising fantastic plots, telling enormous lies and adopting false identities.

• Romantic comedies are sexy.

• Romantic comedies have happy endings.

• Romantic comedies usually involve deception, which increases conflict and humor while forcing the heroine to confront her inner conflicts.

All of these are present in Fast Lane. (Remember, I have thumbs-up proof from actual females attesting to that bullet point about Fast Lane being sexy.)

Hauge devised his list for screenwriters, but the screenplay and novel paradigms are rapidly merging. Novelist Lani Diane Rich even teaches an online course that essentially applies screenwriting principles to novels—and uses movies as examples to augment her lessons.

I consider Hauge’s list an imprimatur for Fast Lane from an impressive source. Feels good to me…and I hope, ManWARriors, it’ll help you in your writing pursuits as well.

2 thoughts on “Experts say…”

  1. Dave –

    Thanks for your very kind words. It’s gratifying that what I said way back then has been of value for so long.

    The principles you mention are for mainstream, Hollywood romantic comedies. British comedies rarely involve deception in the same way, and draw conflict from class differences. There are also exceptions for certain well-established filmmakers: Woody Allen looks at romance as temporal, and his romantic comedies often end with the couple split apart. Judd Apatow builds his romantic comedies around immature men who must become adults to be at the level of the women they love.

    I do lots of lectures and workshops for the Romance Writers of America, and while you’re right, my principles apply to fiction as well as film, there are additional principles for that medium that differ from those for Hollywood romantic comedies.

    At my new website,, your readers will find more articles, in particular “The Six Categories of Romantic Comedy”, which covers what I said above in a lot more detail.

    Hope that’s all helpful. And congratulations on the success you’ve achieved, and for keeping your commitment to writing.


  2. Thanks for helpful hints! Michael's newsletter and lecture schedule and the 20th Anniversary Edition of "Writing Screenplays That Sell" are also available at


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