What is a "meet cute?"

| Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Today's Tune: Doctor Jones

Yes, I'm playing cheesy 90's Danish pop today. DEAL WITH IT.

Anyway, today I thought I'd talk about the Meet Cute, which is a term you may or may not have heard before. If you write romance or are writing a heavily romantic subplot (or even a mildly romantic subplot depending on your style), you may be incorporating the Meet Cute without realizing it.

Here's what a Meet Cute is.

In romantic comedies (or just romances in general), the two predestined lovers cross paths. When they do so, the result is usually some sort of embarrassing, awkward, or humorously mild catastrophe. It's a way of smashing the two characters together in a way that will somehow entangle them later. The idea behind it comes mainly from film, where writers/directors have only about two hours to build audience investment in a romantic relationship. They need to bring the characters together and lay groundwork immediately.

A Meet Cute comes in many forms. Some of the more popular Meet Cutes involve two people who insult each other (intentionally or not) and hate each others' guts at first, two people who bump into each other and learn something about the other because they drop something they were holding, or two people who are interested in other people in the beginning and somehow end up scheming to get the objects of their affection. Cue ending up together instead.

These and similar situations are very common in the world of romance. They serve a purpose. However, many are cliched, overdone, and rush things too quickly in the direction of insta-love. The nice thing about the literary medium is that we can stretch things out and let a relationship build slowly and organically without rushing to slam the couple together in ninety minutes.

If you're writing a romance or romantic subplot, how does your couple meet? Is it a Meet Cute, or is it natural? Have you seen any Meet Cutes that you really enjoyed?


{ Old Kitty } at: February 1, 2012 at 5:49 AM said...

May I be really old and say the bestest "meet cute" (thank you for introducing me to this term!)for me is in Brief Encounter? The bit when Celia Imrie gets a bit of grit in her eye and is helped by dashing doctor Trevor Howard... so meet cute with classical strings attached and then some for old people! LOL!

Take care

{ Amanda Olivieri } at: February 1, 2012 at 6:42 AM said...

Whenever I hear the term "Meet cute" I think of the movie The Holiday, when the old guy is describing it to Kate Winslet. Anyway, I do worry about the "encounter" being cliche, but like you said, with writing it can be built up naturally and not depend all one that one moment. I love reading stories where the romance unfolds organically and subtly, and when they are finally in love it just makes sense.

{ vic caswell (aspiring-x) } at: February 1, 2012 at 7:13 AM said...

ooh! i love how you're always TEACHING us stuff!
have you seen 50/50? amazing movie! i thought that meet cute was super cute!

{ Emy Shin } at: February 1, 2012 at 7:50 AM said...

Ooh, I didn't know before that there is a term for this. Looking at my own WiP, the first meeting between the two MCs can certainly be described at a "Meet Cute" scene. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

{ Matthew MacNish } at: February 1, 2012 at 8:06 AM said...

Never heard the term, but it makes sense.

{ Shelley Sly } at: February 1, 2012 at 8:19 AM said...

I like the "meet cute". (Side note: I spend too much time on TV Tropes, so that's where I first heard this term.) I think my favorite is "When Harry Met Sally", because there are multiple meet cutes for when they run into each other again later on in life. Well, maybe only the first one really counts, but still.

{ We Heart YA } at: February 3, 2012 at 6:23 AM said...

Lol and ditto at vic's comment about how you're always teaching us. Now we want to watch 50/50, though.

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