I hate romantic comedies. Other than a select few most of them are predictable.
The couple meets in some cute way, most times with the desperate and single woman doing something to look like a complete idiot. Maybe she knocks over an entire table of food at a restaurant and he helps her clean up the mess. Or she gets her dress caught in the door of a cab and has to run along the side of it until the hero swoops in and saves the day.
After the cute meet the couple starts to date and all the woman’s flaws and insecurities come to the surface while most times the hero remains as clever and attractive as ever. Everything is fine until some conflict either internal or external threatens to break them up for good. One of the two has an epiphany and realizes they can’t live without their soul mate and by the end of the story everything is neatly tied in a pretty little pink bow and the happy couple lives happily ever after.
No wonder audiences have been staying away from romantic comedies in droves. Who wants to watch a story that’s that predictable? As a reader, it’s a tired formula I’ve seen repeated over and over again in a number of romance novels and it’s the reason I don’t read those types of books anymore.
As a writer, especially with a series, making things unpredictable is something you have to consider, especially when your story has romantic elements. Though the reader may say they want the heroine and her love interest to be happily married with kids, don’t believe them.
I can testify that I’ve thought the same thing with the TV series Castle. As soon as Detective Beckett and Richard Castle got together I was done. That was last season and I haven’t watched it since. After watching two characters who have been pining for each other for years finally get together, it’s boring now that we have what we wanted.
What keeps your reader interested is the tension between the couple. Move their relationship forward slowly. If you put them together as a couple, tear them apart soon after and have them find their way back to each other all over again. Introduce that best friend who’s been yearning after the hero since they were kids. Maybe one of them has an unforgivable secret? What if her jealous best friend is a liar and spreads a nasty lie that breaks them apart. Unbeknownst to the hero, maybe his lady love has been replaced with her crazed, long thought dead twin sister. The longer you can keep your couple from that happily ever after the more the reader is pulled in. Make them wait!
Just because you’re following the romance formula doesn’t mean you have to play it by the book.