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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Blog: Melodie Campbell: Like Screwball Romantic Comedy? - It's All About Conflict!

Is there anything more fun than screwball comedy? I’m thinking of the old days of Rock Hudson and Debbie Reynolds, Hepburn and Tracy. Boy meets girl. Boy is attracted to girl but something crazy happens that makes girl so mad at him, they spend the entire novel or movie getting revenge…until the last scene, when they get each other. A well-written romantic comedy is delightful and makes you feel good all over.

Behind all novels, there is conflict. In Romance, we are looking to get a man and a woman together. But there must be conflict, there must be a reason why they can’t get together or there is no story. Otherwise two people meet and their relationship grows smoothly. A nice happy life for them, but not much for a reader to get excited about.

So how does one sustain a romance plot that will last 60,000 words? Somehow, you have to come up with conflict. There has to be a reason why the man and woman can’t be together, or refuse to be together, even when everyone else knows they belong with each other.

When writing historical fiction, it’s easy to find sources of conflict. The man is the wrong religion, or the woman is not the same class…the father can refuse to allow it…lots of reasons. Shakespeare made an industry of it. But today, anything goes. It’s enough to make a grown writer cry. Drat that sexual revolution. Drat that our earlier taboos are now so much history.

How can a romance writer find enough plot to make the romance conflict fresh?

I use comedy. Here’s how I do it: I call it my law of the ‘worst thing’. Take a situation, and ask ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen now’? Or the most embarrassing thing? Example: A seventeen year old girl moves to a new town and is the new girl. First day of school, very nervous, she drives her mother’s car into the school parking lot. What’s the most embarrassing thing that could happen? She hits another car in the lot with everyone watching. And the worst thing? It’s the prize car of the most popular boy in school. Instant disaster. Later, she’s driving home on a country road, and her car breaks down. Who comes by in the next car, and stops to help? The same guy. He can’t believe it’s her. She wants to die of embarrassment. They never stand a chance as a couple, right?

Move it to an adult romance novel. The new girl at the advertising agency drives into the company parking lot on the very first day and hits the gorgeous eligible bachelor’s new car…you get the drift.

In Rowena Through the Wall, I followed the ‘worst thing’ rule to the maximum. What’s the worst thing that could happen to Rowena when she walks through that wall? Or the wackiest? Rowena goes through lots of ‘worst things’ until she finally gets the man she wants in the last chapter. But even then, I couldn’t resist a twist on the last page. After all, there is a sequel coming.

ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL (No. 2 on bestseller list, Aug 2011!)  (Romance fantasy, futuristic)

“Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?”

When Rowena falls through her classroom wall into a medieval world, she doesn’t count on being kidnapped – not once, but twice, dammit. Unwanted husbands keep piling up; not only that, she has eighteen-year-old Kendra to look out for, and a war to prevent. Good thing she can go back through the wall when she needs to…or can she?

“Hot and Hilarious!”-  Midwest Book Review
“Jack Sparrow meets Stephanie Plum.” - Former editor, Distant Suns Fantasy Magazine

Melodie Campbell’s comic novel Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) is available at and Smashwords.

Follow Melodie at

View trailer and read opening scene at

Follow Melodie’s comic blog at

Melodie Campbell got her start as a comedy writer, so it’s no surprise that editors have called her work ‘wacky’ and ‘laugh out loud funny’. She has over 200 publications, including 100 humour columns, 30 short stories and one novel (two more coming in 2012). She has received five awards for fiction, and is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada.


Molly Daniels said...

I love humor in books, and great idea for creating conflict!

Anonymous said...

very interesting article! I will follow your themes.
Can I subscribe to your posts on Twitter or on your Facebook profile?

Anonymous said...

fantastic post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. Im sure, youve a great readers base already!

Adele Dubois said...

Best of luck with your release!


Adele Dubois said...

Best of luck with your release!


Harlie Williams said...

I love comedy in a book. The possibilities are endless when trying to keep the h/h apart for some of the book.

Congratulations on the release, too.

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