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The MEET

Friday, July 14, 2006

In Writing the Romantic Comedy (HarperResource, 2000, excerpted from Chapter 2), Billy Mernit breaks down the basic romance plot into three acts:
1. The MEET: Girl and boy have significant encounters.
2. The LOSE: Girl and boy are separated.
3. The GET: Girl and boy reunite.

Let’s talk about the MEET.

Mernit writes:
The Cute Meet: Catalyst–the inciting incident that brings man and woman together and into conflict; an inventive but credible contrivance . . . which in some way sets the tone for the action to come. . . . It’s somehow charged with significance, which, if you think about it, makes perfect sense. When you meet a couple in real life who’ve obviously got something good going on, how they met is an inevitable question, and more often than not, there’s an interesting answer.

. . .Often, a future couple has met (meaning they know each other) before the [meet] occurs. So the significant encounter and catalyst for the plot is a meeting in the metaphorical sense; it’s when they “really meet” . . . it is special, and it has a memorable, distinctive quality.

What “memorable, distinctive quality” does the first meet of your hero and heroine have that will make it stand out from all of the other manuscripts sitting on your prospective editor’s desk?

In my contemporary romance, I have two “meets” for my hero/heroine. The first is their actual first encounter when they are introduced in a restaurant by her cousin. The second is a few days later when George comes to Anne’s office pretending to be a groom for whom she will be planning a wedding. The reader knows the truth, but poor Anne must suffer through falling ever more in love with a man she thinks is marrying someone else. George must suffer through not being able to tell her the truth–and admit his growing feelings for her–because of the confidentiality contract he’s signed.

In my historical romance, the hero and herone met as children. As adults, Captain William Ransome has sworn he will never let a woman aboard his ship (metaphor for his heart) and Julia has harbored resentment toward William since she was 15 years old, as she felt her father (the admiral) let William replace her brother in his heart after her brother was lost at sea. They are suddenly thrown into each other’s company with no forewarning–and will continue to be so, as everyone around them (except her mother) contrives to push them together.

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