I hope the season finds you healthy and happy. It's a weird one for sure--but taking time to watch what some would say is a silly movie might be just the thing to lift your spirits. Especially if you can "spirit" you cocoa with a little something extra. :)
Many romance readers and writers have a love of the made for TV holiday romance--you know the ones I'm talking about. Hallmark, Lifetime, Netflix, and Amazon are the top purveyors of the beloved, usually cheesy, flicks that just make you feel good with all their tropetastic goodness. Even if they are not top of your to be watched list, I'd suggest watching a few this season to flex your Romancing the Beat muscles.
If you mainline, I mean watch, these holiday offerings over a short period of time, you will find that some make you giddy and some leave you flat. I've noticed that the ones that don't work for me are often the ones that don't hit all the beats for romance novels. For instance--if the adhesion beat in unbelievable, the last three quarters of the movie are hard to watch because--why are they bothering? If the character is flawed, but we don't know their wound--we just think they are a witch to the hero for no reason and it's hard to root for their success.
But if the beats are there--I get warm and fuzzy and all my feels are complete.
So, I encourage you to take some time to watch a few and see if you can pick out the beats. How do they set up the character so we know what their external goal is? What are the No Ways for each protagonist. Does the grand gesture show they have overcome their fear by putting it all out there? If you don't like the movie, what is it missing? What tropes did they use and how did they execute them?
If you don't have cable, there are other ways to watch the holiday movies legally. Netflix and Amazon make their own and have several others you can rent or buy or stream. Hallmark Now is a sort of Netflix for their previous years. You can't see this year's offerings--but I like it not having commercials. I watch it on Roku, but it's also available on Smart TVs, your computer and phone...all the usual things.
And you can take another lesson from movies to take to your writing--the importance of setting. What did the set designers do to enhance the tone of each scene? What colors and textures and lighting and weather are incorporated for overall effect? It's no longer "the thing" to start each scene with a laundry list of description like authors used to . In deep POV, and setting details on page should come from the observation of what your character would notice and how they feel about it. Your war hero might first notice the exits of the room and then be hit with the charming scent of gingerbread--something he hasn't smelled in years. If you mention the Queen Anne armchair--your hero needs to have a reason for why he knows the style of an antique.
Do you have a favorite holiday romance? What was your favorite beat from it?
P.S. I have a few spots left in December for a beat critique. If you haven't heard about it, it's a new service I offer in place of a full length manuscript edit.