One of our favorite activities on a cool weekend evening is watching television. By week’s end, the husband and I like nothing better than to amuse ourselves with something mindless. The Hallmark Channel is glad to oblige us with their many, many “original” holiday movies. I love a good story, and a story with a happy ending is the best way to end a week. However, last fall I began to see that those “original” movies weren’t so original after all. They use only a few basic plot lines, reset in different places and performed by different actors. I only have to watch every so often to catch right back up; paying close attention is not required, so I’m free to work on a craft project or catch up with my many friends on Facebook. Within a couple of minutes of watching, I know exactly what has happened during the time I let my attention stray.
Some literary theorists say that there are really only a couple of plots: a stranger comes to town; or the hero takes a journey. Sometimes these plots can be combined, but most stories fall primarily into those categories. Christmas movies are no exception. Either one person stays home, only to greet his/her new love who just happens to stop in for a week (or a lifetime), or the soon-to-be-lovebird finds that he/she just must travel right before Christmas.
After last year’s marathon holiday movie-watching binge, I have acquired some expertise in analyzing the basic parts of the movies. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve managed to distill the basic elements into a handy one-page guide. If you check off several elements to use in your story, you too can become a writer for Hallmark, Lifetime, or Netflix.