“Before launching into your next romantic screenwriting project, learn a few tips from the masters of the genre…”
Through his book The Story Solution and his online screenwriting blogs, Eric Edson recommends studying the scripts and professional growth of screenwriters who have already achieved box office success. By learning about the career journeys of those who have already sold screenplays, today’s up-and-coming authors can better prepare themselves to earn tomorrow’s screen credits.
To help writers gain an understanding of screenwriting development in the romance and romantic comedy movie genres, Eric Edson has reviewed here the experiences of several romantic movie screenwriters. The selections were based on movie box office success, novelty of approach, and how each script was turned into a winner. Studying the journeys of these romantic movie screenwriters can serve as a foundation of knowledge for what to expect when developing other movie genres as well.
After much consideration, Eric Edson recommends the following romantic movie screenwriters as exemplars of effective screenwriting techniques: Mark Andrus & James L. Brooks, Nancy Meyers, Kevin Wade, Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford & Caryn Lucas and Pete Chiarelli. If you are seeking knowledge that will help you sell a screenplay, consider studying these romantic movie screenwriters and their work.
Mark Andrus & James L. Brooks – “As Good As It Gets” – Romantic Movie Screenwriters
Take Jack Nicholson as an obsessive-compulsive novelist, Helen Hunt as the waitress mother of an asthmatic son, and Greg Kinnear as a gay-bashed artist, add superb screenwriting sensitivity, and you’ve got the recipe for box office and Academy Award success in 1997’s “As Good As It Gets.” Mark Andrus had his MBA when he took a creative writing class while waiting to hear from law schools. His then enrolled in a Master of Professional Writing Program. Early in his career, Andrus wrote “Old Friends,” a screenplay about the vilest man in New York City and his gay neighbor. After a lot of meetings the project fell into limbo until James L. Brooks became involved and the two collaborated on a rewrite that turned into box office gold. LESSON: The one personal quality that all successful screenwriters share is relentlessness. Never stop. And never stop rewriting.
Nancy Meyers – “It’s Complicated” – Romantic Movie Screenwriter
What could be more complicated than a divorced Meryl Streep and a since-remarried Alec Baldwin reigniting the spark at their son’s graduation? How about adding Steve Martin as the dependable but non earth-shaker as her new love interest? Screenwriter Nancy Meyers makes it all seem quite easy to understand in “It’s Complicated.” After an early interest in acting, Meyers decided to pursue screenwriting after she saw “The Graduate.” She graduated from American University in Washington, D.C. with a degree in journalism and spent a year working in public television. After moving to Hollywood, she took film-making classes where she connected with directors such as Martin Scorsese. Elements of her own life crept into this film such as a brief stint as the owner of a small cheesecake business and components of her own divorce story. LESSON: Mine your own life experiences for story elements, yes, but don’t write an autobiography. Our real lives are mostly boring. Write the unusual in terms of what you know.
Kevin Wade – “Working Girl” – Romantic Movie Screenwriter
Remember Harrison Ford before Indiana Jones? He was almost outshone by Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Kevin Wade’s 1988 debut as a screenwriter with “Working Girl.” The film features a notable opening sequence following Manhattan-bound commuters on the Staten Island Ferry accompanied by Carly Simon’s song “Let the River Run.” Wade says the idea for the script came to him in Manhattan’s Battery Park one morning in 1984 as he wondered about today’s immigrant story. He decided to represent his heroine as “an immigrant every day.” To make sure his script sounded realistic, Wade spent months interviewing Wall Street workers. LESSON: Keep your story accessible to the widest possible audience, and keep it feeling real through careful research.
Marc Lawrence, Katie Ford & Caryn Lucas – “Miss Congeniality” – Romantic Movie Screenwriters
To help Sandra Bullock combine her onscreen charm and lovable physicality, this trio of writers penned 2000’s “Miss Congeniality.” Lawrence graduated from Binghamton University with a degree in English and later worked on NBC’s Family Ties. Ford had started as a stand-up comedian before she went on to write and produce some television series and films. Lucas gained writing credits working on “The Nanny” before combining her skills with Lawrence and Ford for the perfect movie script. LESSON: Be open to working closely with other writers. Don’t let any over-sized ego or defensiveness about working with others stop your pursuit of the best possible script.
Pete Chiarelli – “The Proposal” – Romantic Movie Screenwriters
Peter Chiarelli came out of the University of Washington with a BA in Communications and Economics. 2009’s “The Proposal” was only the second screenplay he’d ever written, but he wanted it judged on its own merits. He originally put the name “Jennifer Kirby” on the front page. Eventually the truth came out, and the picture has grossed more than $314 million worldwide since then. LESSON: Sometimes a selling ploy, like the use of a pseudonym, can keep buyer focus where you want it most – on the work itself.
Eric Edson’s commitment to excellence includes providing aspiring screenwriters with a professional’s knowledge of the screenwriting industry. We hope this information helps you learn about the screenwriting process.
About The Story Solution Book: The Story Solution was written by accomplished screenwriter Eric Edson. It reveals the 23 actions used in all successful movies to create dynamic, three dimensional heroes and link all parts of a captivating screenplay. Eric also offers screenwriting tips, screenwriting resources, and screenplay reading recommendations. Visit the website and Facebook page or call 818-677-3192 for more information. Eric Edson’s book, The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take, is an insider’s guide to scriptwriting success and TV writing tips. Aspiring movie writers who are searching for screenwriting books will learn the 23 actions used to create dynamic characters and link all parts of a screenplay from first page to last.