Online | Fiction | Seminar

6-Week Rom-Com Screenwriting Seminar: Nancy & Nora & Me & You

Love is a backbone of the human experience. Laughter is a necessary force for life. It makes sense, then, that romantic comedy is one of the best-selling, most-viewed, most beloved genres—and yet baffles that it is not often given the public reverence of craft that it deserves. Love stories run through everything. Once you’ve learned how to craft a compelling rom-com you will have the toolbox to do anything—to create the tension and cathartic fulfillment that lies across all kinds of love stories, whether platonic, familial, or romantic.

This six-week seminar will use the work of romantic comedy masters Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron as a jumping off point for study. We’ll look at the screenplays (provided for the class) for When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, and more, mining them for lessons on structure, humor, and id to inspire students in crafting their own rom-com.

You do not need to know how to write a screenplay to participate in this class; we will excavate the basics of crafting compelling relationships and character arcs for the screen. Like the iconic women we’ll be studying, we’ll also learn how to insert our own flair and signature voice into our work. Nancy and Nora are only a starting point. From learning from the greats of the past—by analyzing their strengths and their hang-ups—we can better learn ourselves, our own tastes, and how to push the genre forward to include a wider variety of voices, perspectives, and fascinations. This class is meant to be a supportive environment to give you the groundwork to craft your own great rom-com.

Writers will leave this seminar with a deeper understanding of how to craft a rom-com screenplay, including outlining, scene structure, character arcs, banter, and more. You'll walk away ready to write your own satisfying rom-com for the ages.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- How do we craft tension in key relationships in a story? How do we do this for the screen specifically, showing instead of telling?

- What makes a compelling romance, and what pays it off?

- How can we infuse humor into our work, and how do we make that humor fit the characters and story we are telling?

- What are the elements of a successful rom-com?

- How do we move the genre of the rom-com forward? How do we blast the genre open to include the voices that have historically been shut out?

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

Students will read three total screenplays outside of class time to discuss in class. During class time we will discuss these screenplays and others (which we will read and display together) and dissect their elements. There will also be the occasional, minimal writing assignment: Loglines we can workshop as a class on a volunteer basis, and short scene writing practice outside of class that can also be workshopped on a volunteer basis.

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1: An intro: Nancy, Nora, and the basics of the rom-com for the screen

Week 2: Character and motion: Analyzing When Harry Met Sally

Week 3: Structure, tension, and the antihero

Week 4: The crucial catharsis

Week 5: Crafting humor and voice

Week 6: Making it sing and moving it forward

Alanna Bennett

Alanna Bennett is a screenwriter and culture writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be seen online with BuzzFeed, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Teen Vogue, Eater, and more. She has written feature films for major studios and has written for television in the writers rooms of XO, KITTY (ensemble YA dramedy), ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO (sci-fi drama), and THE HOSPITAL (animated comedy), as well as on her own development. She is currently working on her debut novel and her first comic book. Through it all, rom-coms are her hometown. 

Testimonials

“Alanna Bennett is a masterful writer for the screen. As an artist, her skill and imagination come from a deep commitment to telling stories that feel both radical in their vision, and like a cozy blanket in their style and tone. As a creative partner, Alanna is able to hear a collaborator’s narrative goals and to offer varied solutions, directions, and tweaks that lead to a stronger product. To simply have a conversation with her about art always is to gain a new insight about how we use narratives to make sense of our world, regardless of form. So, to be in a class led by Alanna? Imagine the possibilities.”

Matt Ortile CATAPULT editor

“Alanna is the rare combination of expert practitioner and generous, curious mentor. She is a natural teacher with a genuine warmth towards and interest in her students, and brings a wealth and breadth of writing experience to her classes.”

Hope Rehak former co-teacher

"Alanna is a brilliant screenwriter and pop culture scholar. When I was an undergrad taking her class, she broke down academic texts with enthusiasm and whip-smart analysis, making them easy—and even fun—to digest. And more recently, she’s become my go-to person to ask for script feedback. She gives the best screenwriting notes I’ve ever received. No one will give your script a careful, respectful read like Alanna does. She has a knack for cutting through the noise, seeing exactly what your script needs, and suggesting a simple-yet-genius solution. She tells you what you need to hear and bolsters your confidence while doing it. More than that, she’s a genuinely funny, kind-hearted person. That’s how I know she’ll be a great teacher. I’m already jealous of anyone who gets to take this class!"

Anna Menta former student