It's all about the 'meet cute.'
The term “meet cute” is used to describe when two people, destined to fall in love with one another, meet in a cute or interesting manner. And while hearing about your friend’s meet cute in normal life can be a nauseating experience, the trope proves to be an essential ingredient to any film flirting with romance.
Why? Well, it’s essentially the catalyst to the entire plot, providing conflict for the foundation of the movie.
Much like in real life, how well a meet-cute is written could spell either doom or beauty for the final product. The trope has been recycled through so many iterations that a writer has to make sure they provide the audience with a twist that makes it even gooier.
If you're writing a romance (or even a story that happens to feature an intimate relationship) then you should definitely take some time to check out Think Story’s analysis of the trope. He breaks down multiple types of encounters your lovesick protagonists could find themselves blessed by, and the video provides some leaping off points for your own story.
1. One Character Likes the Other but the Feelings Aren’t Mutual
“This particular meet cute is common, because it sets up a road map for the film. One character wants the other but is blocked by the other character’s inability or denial to reciprocate that love. This meet-cute establishes a clear goal and obstacle for the majority of the film,” Think Story explains. Of course, I’ve never dealt with unrequited love but this seems to be a fairly common experience for most people. I imagine it would be very frustrating.
2. Both Characters Hate Each Other
But of course, this only happens before “they’ve realized that they are truly meant for one another.” Of course, the conflict here comes from both of the characters fighting against their own anxieties and insecurities about love. Think Story also notes that the characters in this scenario don’t necessarily have to hate each other; they can remain indifferent. It seems that the resistance comes from their own incapacity to be vulnerable. Things will hopefully turn around by the end of the film, just like in real life, right?
3. Both Parties Like Each Other but an External Force Keeps Them Apart
The classic example here is Romeo and Juliet, written by Shakespeare, made popular by Baz Luhrman. These external forces can form social, economic, and other factors.
4. Your Characters Come from Completely Different Backgrounds
If your characters come from completely different backgrounds then the conflict comes from their willingness to compromise or adapt to the other’s way of life. As Think Story puts it, “The more divergent they are, the more possibilities of them not getting together.”
The main thing to ask yourself is, “What is getting in the way of your characters falling madly in love with each other?”