All Because of Chickens

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saturday Morning Musings: Writing holiday stories

Happy Valentine's weekend and here in Ontario it's our Family Day long weekend, hope everyone has the best time possible. Be safe and be happy.

Ever curious how all those Valentine movies, TV shows, or books are set up just in time for the holiday/celebration? It's takes planning to have everything done in time. Right now in town a TV show is filming a Christmas episode. We've had winter movies filming in summer and summer movies filming in winter.

Have I given enough clues to this week's Saturday Morning Musings?   :)

Let's see how some of our authors feel about holiday writing/planning.

KURT DYSAN, Muse author

This one is easy for me, because I'd never do it. My intent is to write meaningful stories, and writing a story to match a specific occasion strikes me as artificial and inorganic. I don't see how anything truly good can come of the practice. Trying to come up with a story about a holiday just because the date is approaching strikes me as no different than trying to write an uplifting story about some political agenda because it's election time. The holiday, or the political cause, becomes more important than the story. That's not fiction, but propaganda.

That doesn't mean holidays aren't useful or important in fiction. If I am writing a story that takes place when a family comes together, then Christmas or Thanksgiving provides a perfect conceit. And some stories do revolve around holidays—the holiday, the celebration is integral to the story, just as some people make those days a big part of their life. My issue is simply with writing a story because the writer thinks there is a window of opportunity for selling it. If I thought that was an important factor, I'd write the story when it is there, in my head and heart, and not publish it until the holiday.

Plan a year in advance if you have some sort of target—immediately following a season or holiday. A publisher should put a call out no sooner than that anyway. If I’m pitching an article, I’ll collect ideas and make contacts as soon as possible and write for that market. If it’s a short story, I’ll work at it around the edges. Pretending to be on opposite sides of the world seasonally can help. Close the shades and put up pictures of the holiday or season I’m writing for can help with the mood. Or write during the holiday, knowing the work won’t be published until the next one comes around.

I don’t usually write holidays into my work, but if I were to do that I would make sure that the activities of the holidays season coincided with something in my characters’ lives. For instance, if I were to write about a holiday involving one of my characters, maybe it would be a turning point in their lives. I always liked the love stories where the man who the main character had been falling in love with suddenly shows how much he loves her. Occasionally the man will propose and give the character a ring. I’m a sap for this kind of stuff. On the opposite side of this, maybe you might want to show how a family can’t get along and you put them into a big holiday dinner. Perhaps it is Thanksgiving or Christmas and they have to deal with each other. In that case, I might introduce each character separately and then bring them together for the big holiday dinner. Then let the sparks fly. Or maybe one family member has a terrible secret and it is revealed accidentally at a big dinner. What is the reaction of the other family members? What if an undiscovered biological child suddenly appears at a holiday dinner? Who invited them? All of this might be interesting to examine.

The writing prompts which are given out at my writers' group are often seasonal and are themed according to the various holidays. I always try to write a story  in response to each prompt because they stretch me as a writer and encourage me to go in directions I wouldn't normally go. So, if I produce a story with a holiday theme, it's probably not because I decided to write about the holiday, but more likely because I've been trying to meet the challenges set by a writing prompt. And interestingly, some of the pieces I've most enjoyed writing have resulted from writing prompts which at first glance didn't suggest any ideas for a story at all.

My annual holiday, which I usually enjoy with my daughter and her three children, is planned well in advance. We go during the summer holidays when the children are on vacation. For the last three years we have stayed in a luxurious self-catering house at Golden Sands, a holiday centre, in Woolacombe Bay in Devonshire. We book our a fortnight there because it has easy access to blue flag beaches, several swimming pools and much more which the children enjoy.

While there, I don't write fiction, but I do check my e-mails and make entries in my notebook. This is one from last year:-

"Sunny Day. Green sea frothing with foam. Golden sand strewn with shells and pieces of slate worn smooth by the sea.

Caves and rocks at the base of towering cliffs in front of which are rock pools teaming with starfish, anemones, crabs, prawns and small fish."

Keep reading and dreaming. If there’s anything you’re curious about just drop me a note:

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