When my husband bought Direct TV for the first time a few months ago, he asked what top 3 channels I wanted to pick for me.
When I watch a Hallmark movie, it's like reading the BEST LoveInspired novels out there. A Happily-Ever-After every time. And right now, with the Christmas season in full swing, it's Hallmark romances around the clock :-)
But what is it that makes Hallmark movies so popular, notable...and if you look at the fact that they have their own station and well over 100 movies...successful?
A good formula.
I know some people might think Hallmarks are sappy, overly emotional, and maybe pretty simplistic.
Sometimes, maybe they are.
But at the heart of Hallmark movies, is the EMOTIONAL drive and connection to the characters - which (as authors) is what we should be striving to create in our novels.
I don't watch Hallmarks to have my heart twisted until tears spring from my eyes, but I watch them for the simple pleasure of smiling at the end - of going on a journey. You know, like the Christmas commercials that are all sentimental, but you love watching them every year any way?
Hallmark movies are in many ways predictable, but that can also be one of the draws for them. We go in to 'feel good'. We're usually rewarded :-)
So let's get to the formula:
Hallmarks (especially the romantic ones) almost always provide 3 things:
1. A happily-ever-after
2. Character growth
And like every story worth it's tale, hallmark movies provide moving conflict and resolution. The conflict sometimes spans deep issues, and sometimes it's simplistic misunderstandings.
But all of those aspects (except maybe the HEA) are what make a story work.
A solid character arc, conflict that moves the story along, and deepset emotions that help us identify with the characters are the perfect trio to storymaking.
Hallmark movies also follow the 3-act story structure really well :-)
1. City girl gets off the train and goes directly to marry quiet farmer and then moves out to his farm (which is MILES away from any town). Conflict? You betcha
2. City girl keeps writing the father of the child she's carrying, in the hopes he will come and sweep her off her feet again, while she tries to sort out life on the farm (she can't cook). Longing and emotional connection? While the farmer's tenderness and his desire to show her what love is, begins to widdle away at her doubts, conflict continues.
The back and forth of every story begins...should I keep writing my former lover? Shouldn't I? Should I trust my growing feelings for the farmer? Shouldn't I? Should I run away from this horrible mistake of a marriage? Shouldn't I?
3. The opportunity to leave and return to her former life presents itself. She is also given the opportunity to keep her newfound friend from making the same mistake with a rake as the city-girl had done.
Ending? She realizes how much the farmer really loves her just as they welcome their new baby into the world. :-) She's discovered what true love is and it's changed her into the person she's become.
Beautiful 3 act structure.
I just finished watching a Hallmark Christmas movie called A Princess for Christmas. Is it a little cheesy? Yep, sure is. Is it cute? Yep, sure is.
Does it follow the formula? Definitely.
1. A young woman, Jules, with guardianship of her neice and nephew loses her job. Already strapped for money, an opportunity arrives to spend Christmas with her wealthy brother-in-law's estranged father, the Duke of Castleberry Hall.
2. She is forced to 'walk through this first door' into Castleberry Hall because the grandfather was 'supposedly' ill and the Jules had no money to spend on her neice and nephew for Christmas anyway. The threesome arrive in Castleberry, only to find the grumpy grandfather doesn't want to celebrate Christmas and is even rude to his only surviving son. The son, Ashton, begins to take an interest in Jules and the kids, and the Duke's view of Christmas and life begins to soften. But....conflict comes in the form of Ashton's girlfriend and Jules' own low self-perception. The back and forth of the Act 2 goes into full swing...feelings evolving, doubts rising and falling...
3. Instead of running away from the Christmas Ball and her feelings for Ashton, a Christmas miracle brings her to the ball and into the arms of a waiting 'prince'.
Just curious - what are some of your favorite 'seasonal' Hallmark movies? I've listed a few below, not necessarily my favorites, but a few to get you started :-) What are some of the reasons you like (or dislike) Hallmark movies?
I just finished watching On the Second Day of Christmas (with Mark Ruffalo) and it's CUTE!
The Courageous Heart of Irene Sandler (tough one to watch...whew), A Dog Named Christmas, The most Wonderful Time of the Year, The Note, Holiday Engagement, A Christmas Kiss, The Christmas Card
Blue Ridge Mountain Romance peppered with grace and humor.