Writer Wednesday: The Holiday Romance Formula
Happy Wednesday my fellow writers and welcome to the middle of the week! Next week will be Christmas eve and like every year, this whole month feels like a blink. Last Friday, we did a fun tribute to unconventional Christmas stories, in deference to what we affectionately call 'The Holiday Romance Formula' or 'The Hallmark Formula'. Every holiday season we see the tide bring in a slew of films and books, of couples in comfy sweaters, familiar surroundings, the tear jerk moment, and an ending that leaves you ooey gooey inside. While some scoff at the formula, it is a formula that works, and despite the sometimes cookie cutter feel of the plug in plot, Hallmark has established these stories as a modern pseudo tradition for the holiday season.
What is the Holiday Fiction Formula?
Your basic formula runs along the lines of 'Single successful woman who is a *plug in your go getting profession* who lives and works in *insert major metropolitan city* just before the holiday season experiences *insert tumultuous event* and through series of events and or mishaps ends up in *insert small town America* where she meets and spends the holiday with *insert winsome male hero* who is a *insert masculine profession* who turns out to be *insert male hero being the fix to the tumultuous event* and they live happily ever after.
Why does it work?
There are numerous iterations of this formula but the song remains the same, and that is not always a bad thing. Formula it may be, but this formula draws an audience hungry for the escapism and sweetness offered by a guaranteed happy ending. And who can begrudge that sentiment when our reality leaves us with so little space for escape. There are no guaranteed happy endings in our day to day grind. There is an undefinable value to finding happiness, and it is vital to our mental health and well being to give ourselves a serotonin boost where we can find it. There is absolutely no shame in delving into the Hallmark pile for some soul feeding fun.
The Writing Market
And as a writer, you are secure in the knowledge there is a ready made market for Holiday Romance fiction. The downsides to creating these pieces of fiction is there is a set shelf life where the market will be viable, from around mid November to roughly early February if you can catch the Valentine vibe, though more realistically your market will run to early January. The hot sell dates are usually Black Friday and Cyber Monday, boosted by early December sales to catch holiday romance readers. For the rest of the year, these stories likely won't see too much in sales, though you will be able to reap a couple years worth of sales from a holiday title. And there is always the Christmas in July market to tap.