This go-to romantic comedy cliche can relay a tremendous amount of story quickly when done properly and with a unique perspective.
When you think of a “meet-cute,” what usually comes to mind? A clumsy girl and an affable guy meeting over some adorable, zany coincidence? Or perhaps two people who immediately, wholeheartedly despise the other for their opposing outlooks on life?
As one of the most prevalent tropes in popular culture, the meet-cute has been parodied endlessly by sketches, films, and talk shows. Teasing the instant connection, the swelling music, the banter, and the other memorable signifiers of this narrative technique is not a hard task.
For every When Harry Met Sally or Singin’ in the Rain, there are dozens of horribly executed meet-cutes. Whether they are too self-aware, seem overly manufactured, or are lacking the chemistry needed to make the moment work, a gratifying meet-cute is incredibly challenging to create.
Luckily, Daniel Whidden of Think Story is here to help you pull off this tricky task! He outlines how the trope is an efficient storytelling technique, lists the different kinds of meet-cutes, and explains how to make your version rise above the rest.
A well-crafted meet-cute can set up who the characters are in relation to each other and lay the groundwork for the changes they are about to undergo in a short amount of time. For instance, the lead characters of La La Land pass by each other multiple times, culminating in their official meeting at a party where they are intrigued yet ultimately indifferent towards each other.
Meet-cutes aren’t just a staple of the rom-com either! When romance is mixed with another genre or a central platonic relationship needs introducing, the meet-cute is a quick and effective solution. Almost every buddy cop movie has a diluted version of the opposites-attract meet cute in the narrative, skillfully used to set up the ongoing conflict their partnership will produce.
Imagine Star Wars without Leia and Han’s relationship, expertly established from their first meeting full of name-calling and arguing. And Whidden cites another Harrison Ford movie for an action/adventure meet cute: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a stellar example of two characters’ hatred for each other later turning to love.
Watch Whidden’s video below to learn how to sidestep the cliched, overdone aspects of the trope and write a refreshing meet-cute!