Since actual Japanese sources on writing light novels aren’t easy to find in English, I am sharing translations of some of the more interesting articles I have found during my current research here on my blog. Since my Japanese is poor, these are largely machine translations done using DeepL Translation software and then revised and edited for clarity. If the translation is off, please feel free to comment and I will correct it.
This particular article is from 2018, and I think it’s age shows. The focus here is on stories like the runaway success My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected and that’s the type of story the writers are suggesting the reader mimic. However, there are a lot of good points here and ideas that are worth thinking about if you want to write a Japanese light novel style romcom, so it’s worth reading.
There are no names on the original article, so unfortunately I don’t have author credits. However, the “writer’s comments” in the original have two different cute cartoon girl pictures next to each comment, and I think this is the writer and editor of the article. Also, I have edited out a few parts which didn’t translate or weren’t relevant, such as a section about using Chinese kanji characters when writing.
The following is an unofficial English translation of a Japanese article about writing romantic comedy light novels. It is presented here for educational and research purposes only. The original Japanese text can be found here.
How to Write Love Comedy Light Novels
Romantic comedies are one of the major genres of light novels, but there are many things to keep in mind when writing them.
When writing romantic comedies, it is important to think about many factors, such as the charm of the characters, the dialogue, the process leading up to the romance, and the complicated human relationships.
In this article, I’d like to delve into how to write a romantic comedy.
Table of Contents
- How to write a romantic comedy in a light novel
- In a romantic comedy, you need a protagonist who is a little off.
- Create an attractive heroine who has more than a few quirks.
- What are the attributes of the heroine?
- How much should you describe the heroine’s appearance?
- The Main Character Rises from a Sorry State
- Make sure the romantic relationship progresses nicely
- School is the royal road for romantic comedy in light novels.
- If it’s not a school story, it’s a fantasy romantic comedy.
- Tips for making a story is not only in the light novel romantic comedy
- In Conclusion
1. How to write a romantic comedy in a light novel
Writing romantic comedies in general novels and light novels is similar but different.
- Emphasize interaction with multiple heroines rather than pure love.
- Create characters that are somewhat disappointing.
- The way of writing the story can vary a lot, as long as it’s easy to understand and fun.
In general novels, there are many pure love stories where the heroine overcomes some obstacle, but in light novels, there is a strong tendency to enjoy the interaction between multiple heroines.
It’s better to have a character with one or two quirks.
The point is not just to make a perfect angel, but also to give her some flaws.
The writing style should be based on general fiction writing techniques, with an emphasis on making it light and fun to read, which is unique to light novels.
- Momentum is the key to a romantic comedy in a light novel. It’s more of a comedy, and before you know it, it’s a romance.
- Overcoming disappointment is the royal road. Most of the best-selling romantic comedies have quirky settings.
2. In a romantic comedy, you need a protagonist who is a little off.
One of the characteristics of romantic comedy protagonists in light novels is that they are a little off.
Characteristics of romantic comedy protagonists:
- Almost always a middle or high school student
- Somewhat twisted
- Usually not popular
Most of them are middle or high-school students who are close to the readers in terms of age. They are not full of life, but rather lonely people with few friends, and their hobbies are anime and video games, which are easy to relate to.
In many cases, the hero starts out in a negative social position and gradually gets to know the people around him through interactions with the heroine.
On the other hand, there are probably very few settings where the hero is good at sports and is a popular, perfect superhero.
And the tendency of hit works is that the heroine, who has more quirks than the protagonist, plays the role of a comedian.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Toradora!, My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected, and almost all of the best-selling romantic comedies fit this pattern.
The hero, who is a little off, but has common sense, is pushed around by the heroine, who has her own quirks, and the story moves at full speed.
In the case of shonen manga, the main character is supposed to work hard and win, but in the case of light novels, it’s probably just as well to skip the hard work and make the hero’s disappointment, meanness and cowardice the main point.
- There are a lot of heroes who are a little twisted in novels.
- I think that’s also a result of considering the readership. In general novels and manga, there are a lot of dull, nice guys as protagonists, but the wide range of characters in novels is one of their charms.
3. Create an attractive heroine who has more than a few quirks.
It is not limited to light novels or romantic comedies, but what is especially important is the characterization of the heroine. The heroine is what makes a romantic comedy.
A comedy without a heroine can be interesting, but only if there is a fruitful romantic element.
It’s better to have a heroine who has a few quirks and can stir up the people around her than a perfect pretty girl.
It’s okay to have a meek heroine. Although if the heroine is just that, the characterization is weak, to be honest. (In that case, the hero should do his best, so the chemistry between the hero and heroine is also important.)
If the heroine is a sensitive type, I recommend using a sub character (or another heroine) to drive the story.
4. What are the attributes of the heroine?
In a light novel romantic comedy, it is also important to have a range of heroine attributes.
It is not necessary for readers to like all of them. If they like any one of the characters, they will read on, and if you can even come up with a term for the group, you’ve won.
In addition to being innocent, quiet, aggressive, cool, tsundere, sickly, and so on, add another distinguishing sub-attribute to add depth to the character.
Long hair, short cut, black hair, blond hair, big breasts, small breasts, tall, short, two socks, jersey, anime lover, sports lover, ditzy, firm, etc. There are many attributes to choose from.
You may want to include a lot of your own preferences in there. (In fact, it will make your writing more fun.)
Create cause-and-effect relationships between characters, and deepen the dialogue between them.
There is always a certain amount of demand for coup d’élé (heroines who understand everything at a glance) and tsundere, because it’s fun to see how a heroine who is tough at first comes to love the hero.
A heroine who doesn’t fall for the hero may also be good, but most readers want to see her fall for the hero at some point by the end of the story, so make a point to give her a sense of accomplishment.
- After all, romantic comedies are all about the heroine, aren’t they? Not just romantic comedies, though.
- That’s right. How the heroine changes is a big part of the story, isn’t it?
5. How much should the heroine’s appearance be described?
In novels, only the text is used to describe the appearance of the characters, but in light novels, the illustrations are a strong point. (That’s also a big reason why people buy them.)
The details of the appearance depend on your taste and preferences, but it is best to describe the length and color of the hair first.
Heroines are almost always assumed to be beautiful girls, and facial modeling can be done only for the most distinctive parts. For example, the eyes to show the harshness of the character’s personality, or the raised corners of the mouth to show the sociability of the character.
Just be sure to describe the most important features of the character. One of the ways to make a character stand out is to add charm to it.
In addition to directly describing the appearance of the character, it is also recommended for the writer to describe the character through gestures and movements.
For example, “She may have as much darkness as her beautiful, lustrous black hair,” or “Her stupid hair is shaking as cutely as her gestures.”
The rest of the story is supplemented by the illustrations, so there is no problem even if the description is minimal. (Although, in terms of emotional involvement, it is recommended to describe the story in writing to the extent that it doesn’t overwhelm the reader.)
- In terms of emotional involvement, it is better to describe the story through the text. If they’re cute, I’ll buy the book.
- That’s the point, isn’t it? But that’s only after the book is published, so let’s start by describing it in writing. It’s okay to just give the minimum features, but that depends on what you’re looking for.
6. The Main Character Rises from a Sorry State
Also, in the case of romantic comedies in light novels, there are few characters who like the main character from the beginning.
With romantic comedies in shonen manga, there are girls who like the main character without really knowing it.
In the case of a romance, it’s better to push the catharsis of bringing the characters up from a disappointing state to a romantic relationship to the forefront.
If this is also going to be a “battle main,” I think it’s also possible to have the heroine and hero get together from the beginning (from the beginning).
This is also called “choroine,” (superheroine?) but there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you can portray the charm of the heroine. Sword Art Online is a perfect example of this.
7. Make sure the romantic relationship progresses nicely
A romantic comedy is a comedy that focuses on romance, but the reasoning behind the romantic relationship should be well developed.
Light novels are no exception to this rule.
It is a reality that we somehow fall in love with the opposite sex, but since it is a novel, the more convincing the description of the process, the more it can create a sense of excitement and accomplishment.
It’s not enough to fall in love with someone because they are cool or cute. The characters should overcome pinch points, obstacles, and episodes to connect with them.
Whether it’s the resolution of trauma, overcoming obstacles, building up mutual understanding, or other developments, there should be many mountains for them to overcome among the small things.
In order to create problems and solutions, characterization is important, and make sure your characters have a well-developed background. It is also a good idea to have a trauma or family situation in there, and then the main character resolves it.
Even if a certain amount of opportunism in the setting is unavoidable, if the psychological movements are done in a haphazard manner and there is no reason for them, the reader will be left behind.
- It’s different from reality in that you don’t just fall in love with someone for some reason, right?
- Yes. Persuasiveness is important. I think it’s a good idea to have the heroine have a problem and then the hero solves it.
8. School is the royal road for romantic comedies in light novels.
In addition to the characters, you also have to decide on the setting, but the royal road for a light novel is through school.
The main character’s age makes it natural, and since everyone has experienced it, it’s easy to write about, and easy for people to get emotionally involved.
It is also easy to create an environment where a sense of solidarity through club activities can be easily shared.
The aforementioned The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has the SOS group, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai has the Neighborhood Club, and in My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected, the hero is pushed into joining a club founded by the heroine, which is a common point.
- Club activities novels have become very popular, haven’t they?
- When a big hit comes out, people tend to follow suit. I think club activities are the easiest genre to write for school stories.
9. If it’s not a school story, then make it a fantasy romantic comedy.
In terms of the readership of light novels, it is difficult for readers to get emotionally involved in an environment where the main character is a working adult. Recently, the age of the readers has been increasing, and there has been a trend toward stories about older men, but if you want to target middle and high school students, fantasy is the way to go, except for school stories.
Fantasy + battle + romantic comedy.
Fantasy tends to be a harem type of story that is difficult to portray in the real world, but it is one of the settings that I recommend because you can draw romantic comedies from various angles that are not bound by modern society.
If the entire class goes to another world through a group transfer, it is possible to incorporate fantasy and battle elements while maintaining modern sensibilities, and it will also be a good match for romantic comedies.
10. The trick to creating an interesting story isn’t just for light novel romantic comedies.
As a writer, you may sometimes have trouble or get stuck in creating characters or developing a story.
One of the best tips for creating stories in such situations is to get inspiration from other works. (It’s not a cliché, it’s just a reference and inspiration.)
And it’s not limited to light novel romantic comedies.
Rather, to broaden the scope of your work, you need stimulation from sources other than light novels.
It can be manga or anime, and if it’s romance, dramas and movies are also great.
Please try to incorporate stimuli from other genres as well.
These days, there’s more videos out there than you can possibly watch thanks to streaming services, and by watching different kinds of programs you can find plenty of hints for character and story development lying around.
- In the case of romantic comedies, there is a wealth of reference material in dramas and movies, isn’t there?
- Yes. Let’s add originality to our works by taking in stimuli from sources other than light novels.
11. In Conclusion
This was how to write a light novel romantic comedy.
The story is important, but the most important thing is engaging characters.
Create an emotionally charged environment, a protagonist, and a unique and appealing heroine to move the story along strongly.
However, even if on the surface the story is moving strongly, behind the scenes make the process of leading up to the romance more convincing by creating a delicate setting and making things add up.
There are many different patterns that can be created in light novel romantic comedies, but I hope that you will try your hand at creating a masterpiece by infusing it with royalty and originality.
- Let’s sum it up.
- The romantic comedy in light novels should be strong and quirky.
- Attractive hero and heroine.
- The catharsis of overcoming disappointment.
- There is a trend for romantic comedies that are unique to the romance genre, so try to create a work that is a little more quirky than pure love.