With the promise of roses, chocolate, and frustrated singletons, Valentine
Romance needs Obstacles
This is the number one thing biggest thing that bugs audiences (and me!) about romance, particularly in romantic comedies. There has to be real issues keeping the couple apart that they must overcome throughout the movie. If there isn’t, the movie feels slight, because real-life couples go through issues all the time. Not to hate on Serendipity (it has some sweet moments) but the couple COULD have gotten together at the beginning. They created their own issues by refusing to exchange contact information! Aside from being nonsensical, they then spend the whole movie apart and trying to find each other, when the joy of a romance is supposed to be seeing the leads interact.
Beware of Melodrama
While you want to have obstacles in your script, you don’t want to veer into something so over-the-top that you veer into melodrama. Though melodrama is enjoyable in moderation (and sometimes it might be what you want in your script), in an otherwise realistic and grounded film, it’s going to come off as silly or frustrate the audience.
Consider the Male Audience
If you want to write The Notebook, that’s fine. But for those who want to play with the genre a bit, consider incorporating elements that guys would like too. Wedding Crashers is a great example – on the surface it plays like a crude, nudity-filled guy movie, but at its heart it’s a rather tender story of two men looking for love, even if they don’t know it. Another great example is Jerry Maguire, a romance mixed with a coming-of-age sports story. Audiences of both genders have a better chance of relating to your film with the addition of male-friendly elements.
Leave the Audience Satisfied
When it comes to romance, this is the bottom line: Most romantic comedies should end with the couple together. Dramas have more leeway to do something different because the expectation of a happy ending isn’t there, but comedies HAVE to end happily to satisfy the audience. There are some comedies that satisfy without the lead couple getting together, like 500 Days of Summer and The Break-Up. Interestingly, these movies are satisfying for the same reasons: one, they set up at the premise that the couple has broken up, which changes our expectations, and two, each character learned something from the other, which makes the theme of the film coming-of-age rather than romance. For the most part though, audiences want to see the main characters get together, and if they don’t, there’ll be hell to pay. And no one wants that on Valentine’s Day.