Monday, March 28, 2016

Writing About Holidays

With Easter this past weekend I began thinking about what holidays I’ve included in my stories. It made me wonder, how do you write about holidays in you books? Do you include them or ignore them?

Obviously there are books written for specific holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day (especially for Romance books). And in my current work in progress I mention, or actually include scenes with several holidays:
Halloween (in passing), Thanksgiving (in more detail) and Christmas (before, during, and after). Of all my stories, this one has the most holidays to write about. And each gives me new ways to show more about my characters—including a few things they’d rather not share!

Do you write about traditional holidays, using your own experiences, or do you explore different ways of celebrating based on your character’s personality and circumstances? Does you tough Navy Seal have a soft spot for Christmas because it brings back happy memories? Or maybe he goes all out because his childhood lacked that kind of happiness? Or maybe he ignores it because it doesn’t match his macho image?

Does your heroine hope for a special Valentine’s gift or a romantic night on the town? Holidays can provide a wealth of emotional baggage to explore, not only with what you include, but what you ignore or leave out.


Do you avoid religious aspect of some holidays or include them? What kind of comments do you receive from your readers? Does that influence what and how you write about certain holidays and their traditions?

For me, I look for any opportunity that lets me explore my characters’ childhood experiences, good or bad, and what impact it has on their adult lives. Holidays can be a great way to show some hidden emotions they may not want to talk about—and exactly what I want to expose to and for my heroine or hero.



So whether it’s an Easter egg hunt, a special gift under a Christmas tree, or a New Year’s toast, I’m going to search for those emotions and rescue a few hearts along the way!

8 comments:

Helena said...

Holidays can be a useful device to bring together families (one reason they're popular in detective fiction) or strangers travelling towards meetings or reunions.

jean harrington said...

Though I haven't emphasized holidays very much in my mysteries, I do have a detailed Christmas dinner scene in The Monet Murders. It was a wonderful opportunity for my heroine, Deva, to remember the husband she lost and show her moving on to create a brand new life. In my current WIP, the time of year is January. Hmm, maybe I should utilize Valentine's Day as a chance for my heroine to sort through her love life and try--or not!--to make a decision.

Rita said...

My plan—ha, we all know what happens to those—is to write and publish 3 short holiday stories. Holidays that aren’t normally written about. 3 synopsis are written. Sigh. We shall see.

Anne Marie Becker said...

My first story happened around the Fourth of July, so the literal fireworks echoed what was going on in the suspense and romance. *grin* Otherwise, I haven't centered stories around holidays (yet) -- I'm hoping to do an anthology of three novellas set around different holidays later this year. But you're so right when you mention considering how holidays impacted our characters (growing up and now). I do like to use that as character development, or, as Helena mentioned, as a reason to gather characters together.

Marcelle Dubé said...

I think the only holiday I've used in my fiction is Christmas, and that's in short stories. Come Christmas time, I seem to have a hankering for sweet romances set in snowy wonderlands--or rainy ones. So far, I have three and even gathered them in a mini-collection, Christmas Magic. They kinda warm my unromantic heart... Interesting post, Sharon!

Sharon Calvin said...

Since my current work in progress makes real use of Thanksgiving and Christmas this will be my first opportunity to delve into my character's childhoods so I'm really looking forward to writing those scenes. I've blocked out some of them but left a lot of room for "discovery" when I get down to the actual writing. I'm really surprised that I haven't taken advantage if this in the past, but I think I'll try to work it more often going forward!

Cathy Perkins said...

Wonderful ideas in the post and comments :)
In my WIP, the hero is using inviting the heroine (and her recently dumped mother) to Thanksgiving dinner with his extended family. All kinds of ways to plan with emotions and expectations there. Of course, that means I have to write the actual dinner in the next book...

Sandy Parks said...

A great topic to set a writer thinking about how they handle real life in their books. I rarely consider the holidays that are happening, just the time of year/seasons when my stories occur. Guess I need to be more proactive accounting for real life. Could add some depth to my characters. Thanks. Great blog.