Although I’m Jewish, my family celebrated both holidays. and I wish you all Happy Hanukkah! It’s now time for me to have fun and play Jewish Santa. I hope you will accept the playful, happy holiday spirit intended. My gift to you is a free 15 minute consultation.
I will be taking a break until after the first, and urge you to make one resolution for 2018: to express yourself creatively and write a new story, or to complete the current project you’re engaged in.
Here’s a holiday Script Tip.
your main character feels about holidays can be a fast track to understanding
them on a deeper level. Scripts also need a deadline, a “ticking clock”, and
by placing your hero or heroine in a situation with the added pressure of a
holiday is a sure way to raise the stakes in your screenplay.
This is true for holidays in general, but I want to focus on Christmas Eve
since that seems to be an ultimate moment in time that can reveal character
and heighten the tension in a script, regardless of the genre you’re writing in.
Here are some examples of how setting a story on Christmas Eve can help:
In A Christmas Carol, which is based on a book by Charles Dickens and
seems to be remade once a year, Christmas Eve is used as a catalyst for
Scrooge to realize he’s capable of love. Scrooge hates the holiday. On the
eve, he is visited by ghosts and gains clarity about his life, and learns to love
Christmas. In It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey (James Stewart) is
dissatisfied by his life, and becomes suicidal on Christmas Eve. Being shown
what a difference he has made helps him both appreciate his life and help
save the town.
Love Actually has several plot lines that all reach a crisis on Christmas Eve. A
few of them are: The Prime Minister (High Grant) is moved to find Natalie
(Martine McCutcheon), the girl he’s scorned, because he receives a holiday
card from her explaining her suspicious behavior; a little boy (Thomas
Sangster) finds out his love is requited when he follows his girl to the airport,
and in another subplot, adultery is averted when the wife (Emma Thompson)
confronts her wayward husband (Alan Rickman) when she finds an expensive
Christmas gift not intended for her.
Try the following exercise for your current screenplay or the next one you are
planning to write:
The Christmas Eve Exercise
It’s Christmas Eve in the world of your story. Visualize your main character
doing what they might be doing on that evening. Is he or she celebrating?
Brooding? Committing a crime? This can be a current experience or a past
one where something traumatic occurred which affects the current events on
For example, if you were writing Casablanca, you would imagine that Ilsa
and Rick were planning to leave together on Christmas Eve, and she stood
him up. Using this example, Ilsa would now walk into Rick’s Bar on — you
guessed it, Christmas Eve. Imagine how that might have changed their first
reunion. If you were writing Die Hard, your hero would be visiting his wife
and get caught up in a current situation.
brief monologue for each character as if the experience has already
happened and see if you don’t get something helpful for your current script.
For example, if your main character were John McClane, you might write,
“Geez. If I’d known that I was going to have to save my wife from a bunch of
thieves pretending to be terrorists, I would’ve brought some extra weapons
and would never have taken my shoes off in a strange bathroom. I’m not
much on the holidays, but there was something about it being Christmas Eve
that really made me realize just how much I loved Holly, and nothing was
worth losing her over.”
Enjoy and Happy New Year!
Here’s to your successful writing!
Professor Marilyn Horowitz