Anyone who has seen even one of the Hallmark Christmas movies knows the formula. A busy businesswoman in her thirties is going home for Christmas for the first time in a while. She’s dreading the visit because she’s so busy and can’t be bothered to take any time off to relax, even if it is to enjoy the holidays with her family. She bids goodbye to either her fiance or boyfriend who is also a busy businessman and heads home to visit her family.
When she gets home at first she hates it and faces some clumsy but cute setbacks like missing her bus or falling into the snow. Then she runs into her old high school boyfriend and/or high school crush who now runs a bakery or small coffee shop. They have some sarcastic banter because she only respects business and he’s a humble small-town baker so he doesn’t respect business, of course.
She starts to warm up to the town, and in turn baker boy, and starts to feel the magic of Christmas. Sometimes real magic is involved, but not always. Then, surprise, business boyfriend shows up and she’s forced to then choose between the two sides of herself. Spoiler alert: she 100% of the time stays in the small town and becomes the accountant slash helper at the baker boy’s shop.
Needless to say, Hallmark movies can be cliche and predictable. But for those who love them, they are also addictive. There’s a sort of comfort to the predictability as well as the colorful, bright, and cheery overall tone. They’re full of happy accidents, totally unrealistic turns of fate, and lots of bed and breakfast inns, local bakeries, and gazebos.
Now, picture putting your protagonist in the midst of this cliche and cheery town that we see in Hallmark movies, where there is an almost magical level of holiday spirit. Would they blend right into the plot, seamlessly fitting the role of the lead? Would they be confused, thinking they’ve stumbled into another dimension? Or would they just be downright angry and annoyed when a local inn owner told them they were the only one who could save their business (even though they’ve never met before)?
Writing Prompt: Put your protagonist or one of your characters in the midst of your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie. Because you won’t really have to think about the plot structure, focus on how your character would react differently to circumstances than a typical Hallmark movie protagonist. Don’t be afraid to have some fun with the juxtaposition and add some humor or even darker undertones, let your protagonist take the reigns!