How to Write a Hallmark Christmas Movie

My family adores Hallmark Christmas movies. My wife and step-daughter start watching as soon as they start hitting the airwaves, which I believe is sometime in October. They have a grand time commenting on the plot and the characters. They were doing this way before the drinking game became popular.

The general joke about these movies is they are all essentially the same movie ― woman comes home for the holidays has a meet-cute with a local man who they initially dislike, but end up falling in love by the time the snow falls on Christmas. Sprinkle in a big tree, ice skating, gingerbread making, cookies, and a non-threatening ex and you have a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Ruth Kinane, writing for Entertainment Weekly, interviewed two scriptwriters who have had movies made and they explain the ins and outs of Hallmark Christmas movie-making. I had no idea how many rules there are.

Right, there cannot be a single scene that does not acknowledge the theme. Well, maybe a scene, but you can’t have a single act that doesn’t acknowledge it and there are nine of them, so there’s lots of opportunities for Christmas. They have a really rigid nine-act structure that makes writing them a lot of fun because it’s almost like an exercise. You know where you have to get to: People have to be kissing for the first time, probably in some sort of a Christmas setting, probably with snow falling from the sky, probably with a small crowd watching. You have to start with two people who, for whatever reason, don’t like each other and you’re just maneuvering through those nine acts to get them to that kiss in the snow.

It almost makes me want to give it a try.

December 25, 2018


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