How watching Hallmark movies has made me a better writer – Meredith Schorr

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By Meredith Schorr

I am unashamedly addicted to the original romantic comedy movies on The Hallmark Channel. I’m even engaged in an ongoing message with three friends on Facebook, exclusively devoted to dishing on the upcoming movies, ogling the hot male romantic leads, and sharing our reviews of the films. Even though these movies are like the macaroni and cheese of entertainment — pure comfort — I also consider them “research” for my job as an author of romantic comedy novels.

Setting
Hallmark movies are famous for culture shock—relocating the big-city leading lady to a small town where everyone knows each other’s business. There’s usually one hotel, one doctor, and one eligible bachelor. In another movie last year, the heroine was plucked from her small town into the cut-throat, high-fashioned world of New York City. How a character reacts to her setting in a Hallmark Movie illustrates how a person’s personality is often a product of their environment.

Character development
My favorite Hallmark movies are often the ones where the main character not only finds love, but also discovers something about herself in the process. When I’m writing, I don’t just let the girl get the guy in the end because of external circumstances, like he stopped seeing her as “one of the dudes.” I make her dig deep and unearth an internal flaw that had been preventing her happiness.

Supporting characters
In every Hallmark movie, the main character has a support system consisting of friends, co-workers, family members who might serve the following purposes: keep her grounded, provide comfort, challenge her, make her want to be a better person, or push her buttons. Whether it’s a beloved grandparent, a child, a pet, an assistant at work, a sibling, a rival for work/love, these characters add another dimension to the story that can serve as comic relief or depth, and allows the viewer to see the main character from a different perspective. Secondary characters are so important in novels as well, and often fight for center stage. My favorite secondary characters to write have been best friends, mothers, siblings, and the antagonists readers love to hate.

Conflict
In Hallmark movies, the viewer usually knows the outcome pretty much immediately, but the girl doesn’t get the guy until the very last scene. Even though I try to keep my readers guessing more than the small-screen counterparts, Hallmark movies remind me to pile on the conflict. I want my characters (and readers) to earn their happily ever after. I make it happen by sending choppy waters their way.

Chemistry
My favorite Hallmark movies to see are the ones when I forget I’m watching a movie and get lost in the romance. Not all couples are created equally. If the spark is weak, the movie will flop because you can’t create a love story about two random people and expect viewers to pull for them. Whether I’m drawn to a couple in a Hallmark movie or underwhelmed, it’s a reminder to work hard to ensure my couple comes alive on the page.

In closing, not only do Hallmark movies provide entertainment and a much-needed escape, they also help me flesh out my writing and develop my stories into authentic, enjoyable, relatable books that I hope appeal to a wide audience.


A born-and-bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing romantic comedy and humorous women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hardworking trademark paralegal and her still-single (but looking) status. Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan, an avid runner, and an unashamed television addict.

meredithschorr.com

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