The Hallmark of a Good Love Story

The Hallmark of a Good Love Story

Why is it that millions of people around the globe scoff at sweet, predictable romance novels and yet, the Hallmark Channel makes a mint off it’s “Countdown to Christmas” promotion where, for twenty-five days (or more), they inundate us with sweet, predictable romances? In the past couple of days, I’ve seen a temporary nanny fall in love with a Prince, an unemployed artist accidentally land a national ad campaign – thanks to the love of her life, an ad exec, and a personal assistant save a toy factory, a town, and her billionaire boss’s Christmas spirit.

The gals are all cute but not gorgeous, the guys are all handsome but not supermodels, there’s usually a precocious kid or kindly old gentleman helping the plot along, themes of family and simplicity abound, and in most cases, the hero and heroine don’t even share their first kiss until mere seconds before the final credits.

So, this has me wondering, are these movies popular because the hectic holidays create a need for uncomplicated tales of faith and family? Or are they popular because they often breathe new life into a former sitcom star’s career? Or are they popular because they feature people, events, places and story lines that resonate across generational lines? Or, is it possible the publishing industry is under-serving the heartwarming, family-centric romance customer?

Is there a writing lesson in the Hallmark Channel’s line up? (Keep in mind, they have recently expanded their successful Christmas formula and now offer “Countdown to Valentine’s Day.”) Am I overcomplicating my writing life with Alpha heroes, bad-ass heroines, life-and-death stakes, non-stop action and steamy sex scenes? Should I refocus my career and write the kind of books I could see eventually making their way into the Hallmark lineup?

Personally, if I were trolling around Amazon looking for my next new read and stumbled across the three above mention plot-lines, I might buy one of those stories, but in all honestly, I would not buy all three.

Why not? For one, as a reader, I love the escapism of a good book. I will never be a black-balled FBI agent on the run with a former Navy SEAL trying to stay alive long enough to prove my innocence, all the while exchanging well-worded sexually-charged banter with a hard-bodied, soft-centered military hero. However, the good girl with the mundane job striving to make smart choices isn’t that big of a stretch from my everyday life.

For another thing, when I read, I want to be surprised by a plot’s twists and turns. Not a lot of room for many twists and turns in the kind of straight-forward plots favored in Hallmark’s movies.

Let me clarify here: I am not implying that these types of stories are easier to write or take less time or talent to craft. In fact, these stories rely almost solely on emotional intimacy between the characters, and quite often, that is much harder to do well than an exciting chase scene.

What I am implying is that for writers still looking to find their niche, heartwarming, family-centric, sweet romances might be a market worth exploring.

So often, as writers, I think we get caught up in our “art” and our “craft” and forget that publishing is a business. If you want to succeed, if you want to make money, then there’s no shame in studying what’s already working in the market and targeting your efforts in a similar direction.

And, while weighing your options, you can binge on Christmas movies and tell the family that you’re doing “market research.” Talk about a win-win!

Merry Christmas, dear readers and writers.

May the season bring you much love, family, and happiness, with a splash of romance and a dash of excitement.

Dawn Temple

Back when her twin sons were young enough for daily naps, Dawn Temple took advantage of those quiet moments to pursue her dream of becoming a published romance writer. Sneaking in an hour here and there paid off in 2005 when she sold her first book, To Have And To Hold, to Silhouette Special Edition. She managed to secret away enough time to write and sell the second book in her Land’s Cross series, Moonlight And Mistletoe, but alas, her boys outgrew naps and Dawn let go of those stolen moments with her laptop to enjoy life with her two little guys and her big guy, hubby of 21 years.
But now, as an officially retired stay-at-home mom, Dawn has once again found the time and the creative drive to return to writing, and this time around, she’s set her sights on independent publishing. Her first self-published book, Peace of Heart, is scheduled for release in 2017.

5 thoughts on “The Hallmark of a Good Love Story

  1. Won’t lie. Cozy romances were never my thing, but after reading Sandra’s Promise House stories, I did rethink my choices. I have found that I can happily read most genres, if the story is well written.

    Just remember, dear heart, even a “cozy” need the big C – Conflict. Wink, wink.

  2. Yeah, but some stories can thrive on only one heavy emotional conflict rather than internal and external conflicts out the wazoo.

  3. For me, I guess the question of what to write really starts with, “What type of story speaks to me?”

    The vast majority of my teenage and young adult pleasure reading was fantasy and science fiction — but the stories that resonated with me most strongly were stories of sacrifice about protagonists who were forced to face something in themselves they loathed and must overcome. Little did I know that I was trying to find a way to work with the things in myself that I loathed and felt I must overcome.

    I can read almost anything — and do — but I’m drawn to stories that feature personal sacrifice and vulnerability. So no matter what the window dressing might be, give me a story that opens the heart and lays bare the soul.

    1. My favorite is anything that makes me laugh and cry at some point. I guess that means I want a story to engage my emotions, not just my mind. Throw in a well-developed character written in deep POV, and I’m all yours.

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