Cue a jingly Christmas tune. Close-up shots of Christmas ornaments. Fade in and out actors credits followed by a Christmas-y, possibly clever, potentially cheesy title. Now enter the main players, they aren’t in love, then they are, then they aren’t, and then they are again. Yet more often than not we’ll tune in to watch them or record them on our DVR and walk away with satisfaction. So, the question is…why? And what can we, as writers, learn from them?
The movies are relevant to their viewers. They take advantage of the current/upcoming season and capitalize on the event. It works in much the same way that Wal-Mart replaces their candy and Jack-o-lanterns with Christmas trees and singing Santa’s. Consumers/viewers/readers are interested in things that are relevant to them and the current season in their lives. We can use this to our advantage. We can pay attention to current market trends and write projects to fit them or even market current or previous projects to fit. We can choose release dates to match plot lines or we can do something so simple as employing trending hashtags on social media.
The characters are usually relatable. They make mistakes, they struggle, they get their hearts broken, and viewers like that. They like characters who are imperfect, underdogs who they can relate to and root for. Characters should never be perfect, they should have flaws, make mistakes, and get beaten down into the dust.
Then after having encountered any manner of difficulties, the characters rise up out of the ashes and succeed. People want to feel with your characters. They want to want what they want. Root for them. They want them to keep the lodge, get the job, sell the book, take the trip, or, most importantly, end up with their true love. That’s the main theme most of the movies seem to go with and, you know why?
Because most people love…love. They just can’t get enough of good love stories. Love is a timeless, universal theme that has inspired hearts for thousands of years. I’m not saying it’s the only one you can use, but, you’ve got to admit, a good love story can go a long way. However, it’s important to be careful of the cheese factor. Sweet is good, cheese is bad. Remember to keep it real.
In the end, viewers, and readers, want to enjoy themselves. They want to enjoy what they’re watching, or reading. You need to pull them into the story. Make them cry, laugh, frown, smile. Make them feel something. Then, when all is said and done, leave them with answered questions, resolved problems, and a happy ending for your poor beleaguered characters. A satisfying ending is what your readers want. Of course, if it’s a series, you’ll still want to leave them wanting more and, for that, nothing works quite so well as a cliffhanger.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree/disagree with any of these? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section below.