It’s the time of year when everyone starts thinking about Christmas. And if you’re a storyteller, you’ve probably had thoughts like these:
“Maybe I can take my existing characters and do a short Christmas story.”
“This year, I’m writing a Christmas screenplay.”
That’s great! Although there are plenty of Christmas stories out there, I think there’s always room for another good one. Let me encourage your Christmas writing endeavors with a quick pep talk.
I want you to consider something very special about this time of year. It’s a gift to all storytellers, especially for the holiday season. Here it is: Suspension of disbelief is less important at Christmas.
You’ve seen it all over the place. Something happens miraculously to make this Christmas the best one ever, or happy coincidences bring things together. From Scrooge’s reformation in A Christmas Carol, to Imogene Herdman’s unexpected understanding of Christmas in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, to the snowfall at the end of White Christmas, we love Christmas miracles. Something that feels contrived any other time of year gets extra leeway during the holiday season.
As writers, we sometimes get tired and frustrated by the constant expectation that our stories make logical sense, that there be a real reason for everything. Take a vacation! Christmas gives you room to include coincidences in your storytelling without losing your credibility. Things can “just happen” and your audience will take it in stride because, well, it’s Christmas.
Now, of course, this isn’t to be used as an excuse for poor storytelling. You still need good characters and a good story. Especially this time of year, you’ll need to dial your “heartwarming” meter to the maximum setting, and that’s work in and of itself. But there’s room to have some fun with the freedom that comes with the holiday cheer. Take advantage of the lower barrier to suspension of disbelief and give yourself that well-deserved break from the mundane.