I attended a fabulous writing seminar on Saturday given by Michael Hague who is a Hollywood script doctor. One of the things I learned in the class was the majority of successful Hollywood romantic comedies contain some sort of deception or big bad secret in the plot. I never really thought about it before. So I began flipping through my memory to analyze the plots of all of the romantic comedies I love and watch over and over, and was shocked to discover Mr. Hague wasn’t yanking my chain. Here are a few examples of my favorites:
Sabrina—Harrison Ford begins dating Julia Ormond to keep his brother’s engagement from breaking up.
You’ve Got Mail—Tom Hanks is secretly corresponding with the woman whose business he’s destroyed.
While You Were Sleeping—Sandra Bullock masquerades as a comatose man’s fiancée.
The American President—Michael Douglas makes a deal with Annette Benning and then goes behind her back to advance his own political agenda.
Never Been Kissed—Drew Barrymore poses as a high school student to write an article for the newspaper she works for.
Sweet Home Alabama—Reese Witherspoon hides her lower class background and parents from her wealthy fiancé.
Failure to Launch—Sara Jessica Parker pretends to date Matthew McConaughey to get him to move out of his parents home.
Now I can probably come up with a list just as long of titles that don’t use deception as a plot device. But for some reason, the majority of the ones I repeatedly watch have deception as an integral part of the story. This made me realize that the most of the books I’ve written contain deception or a secret and that must be what I found appealing in the story. Does that mean I’m a liar at heart or that I value honesty? It’s probably why I laughed so hard when I received a 1-star review on The Memory of You because the hero was deceitful. DUH…It’s a secret identity romance. Big surprise—someone’s keeping a secret!
My next release, Hypnotic Seduction, was a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist, and is due to release the middle of May under my L.L. Kellogg persona. It’s a red-hot romantic comedy with a deceptive heroine this time.
She has a problem relaxing with men
Frumpy wallflower Hannah Oliver is nearly thirty and has a serious self-image problem. Growing up in her centerfold mother’s shadow and being raised by her pious grandparents has left her so self-conscious about her matronly, D-cup figure she gets tongue-tied around good-looking guys. So when Hannah discovers her fiancé/employer boinking her roommate, she’s not only devastated—she’s unemployed.
He’s got a problem fending off women
Pharmaceutical CEO Jordan Calder has a huge image problem too—his professional image. Most guys would kill to be publicly proclaimed a world-class lover, but other men don’t share his dark, shameful past. The only thing women have ever wanted Jordan for is what he can give them in and out of bed. So when his grandfather drags dowdy Hannah into his office as an executive assistant candidate, Jordan hires the mousey woman on the spot.
Could hypnosis be a solution?
After miraculously landing her plum new position, sexually frustrated Hannah resorts to hypnosis to boost her self-confidence with men, hoping to attract another mate. Unfortunately, a post-hypnotic suggestion compels her to kiss her sexy playboy boss, who she then stupidly falls for in and out of bed. Despair induces her to use similar hypnotic principles on him—in the form of subliminal messages—to convince the man she loves that he wants a happy-ever-after with her. But as everyone knows, desperate measures and deception usually spell disaster.
How about you? What plot element are you especially drawn to, and what other romances can you think of that are based on deception or ones that aren’t?