How To Write A Meet Cute
Several films need a scene where the love interest meet in rom-coms and dramas. They’ll fall in love with each other even if they don’t realize it yet. This is what is known as a meet cute. You’ll need to know how to write a meet cute if you’re writing a romantic plot in a screenplay. It’s widely seen as derivative in romantic genres, but if used right, it can be more than what it is. Let’s take a look at some examples from films that take these scenes beyond the cliche. Then I’ll explain to you four different types of scenes that you can use in your next screenplay that will show your skills on how to write a meet cute.
Understanding The Meet Cute
What is meant by meet cute? It should be two characters in more than a chance encounter. It’s setting the stage for the two characters to fall in love and that you should root for them to be a couple.
There’s a plethora of ways to do your meet cute and before you start writing, you need to interpret the four types of meet cutes that exist.
You need to think about your characters and how they would respond to meeting a romantic love interest to find out which is best for your screenplay. Let’s take a look at four movies that do each of these meet cutes well and what you can take away from them.
When the two characters meet and the chemistry is abundant, that’s when the pull/pull meet cute occurs. It’s one of the more unorthodox meet cute examples, but let’s take a look at the couple of Theodore and Samantha in the 2013 movie Her.
“In every moment I’m evolving. Just like you.”
During the first encounter, they laugh at each other’s jokes. Theodore comes off as anti-social from the first question, but it appears he’s at ease with Samantha. He’s blown away by the artificial intelligence and he shows a different side of himself.
One thing screenwriters have to deal with using this type of meet cute is that it usually lacks underlying tension. Both people are into each other, so what progresses the plot?
In this example, it’s because Samantha is an AI program. Theodore doesn’t want to have a romantic relationship with his software. It presents challenges when he does. I put the scene into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software to analyze the scene as it was originally written.
This scene keeps the audience in suspense as to what will happen next even though it’s a sweet scene. Is Siri going to be what he gets in a relationship with? That’s what gets the viewer engaged and the plot interesting.
When you use the push/push meet cute, conflict is of no worry. In this scenario, the two characters don’t automatically fall in love. At first, they’re not interested or they outright detest each other. Let’s take a look at one of the most well known push/push scenes in When Harry Met Sally…
“I have just as much of a dark side as the next person.”
Harry and Sally share a cab to New York City in this scene. They are acquaintances because Harry’s dating one of Sally’s friends. Harry dismisses Sally’s career aspirations along with the concept of death. It’s clear they have completely different views on life, which adds tension and makes the audience wonder if they could ever end up together.
As the movie progresses, Harry and Sally meet at numerous points in their lives. Their friendship grows and they both grow and mature despite them not being able to be together for various circumstances. Their romantic relationship blossoms after a gradual friendship.
They develop and actual relationship as they grow from being depicted as immature college students to functional adults. As you create your own meet cute ideas think about how your characters would coexist. What would make them fall in love if they have different views on life?
So far, we’ve taken a look at how you can write a meet cute when the two characters have feelings for each other. However, when one character is head over heels for the other character while that other character is repulsed, it provides engaging conflict. Just check out what several people think is the greatest romantic scene in film history from The Notebook.
“Get down, Noah! You’re gonna kill yourself!”
If you ignore the problematic nature of threatening to injure yourself if a girl doesn’t want to go out with you, the scene is a perfect example of push/pull. Noah immediately falls for Allie. However, she’s at the fair with another guy on a date.
Noah threatens to hang from one of the bars and let go if she declines his proposal in a creative attempt to get her to go out with him. Allie shows her sense of humor by pulling his pants down.
This scene demonstrates how you can orchestrate a push/pull to work in your favor. There’s an obstacle for Noah to overcome. It’ll turn out to be the first of many for poor lumber mill working Noah attempting to date Allie who comes from money. This meet cute displays to the audience the lengths Noah will go to in order to be Allie’s boyfriend.
There’s also the neutral/nervous meet cute for highly creative screenwriters. This is one where the protagonist is nervous around the love interest while the other person is hard to read. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a great example of this.
“Sorry… my brain… stopped.”
This has the makings of the epitome of neutral/nervous meet cute. The encounter starts with Toula awkwardly staring at Ian. When she tries to talk to him, she fumbles her words and she can’t even make eye contact.
Ian humored by her awkwardness and while he’s flattered by her obvious interest in him, it’s clear the feelings are not reciprocated. The romance really begins when Toula has a makeover. However, the awkward meeting is what started it all, which mimics the way things go for real life couples.
You need to keep in mind what works best for your characters when choosing the right kind of meet cute for your script. The neutral/nervous meet cute would work best if your protagonist is an introvert. These meet cute examples can act as a guide for your writing. This list shows you how to write meet cute scenes so that yours will stand out and hopefully make the audience dream of meeting their one true love just like in your movie.
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