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View Full Version : Do the holidays make their way into your writing?



gettingby
12-19-2014, 02:18 AM
This happens to me, and I was wondering if it happens to any of you. I'll be writing a story that I don't think has anything to do with the holidays. Then it is Christmas in my story or a character starts making New Year's plans or writing resolutions.

I am the one who started the thread about writing to Christmas music at Starbucks so that might be a contributing factor. However, around my birthday I tend to write a short story about someone's birthday. Do any of you do this? How do the holidays affect your writing?

I write short stories. While it may seem like fun to write holiday stories, I am guessing they are a hard sell because I can't remember reading any recent (in the past few years) short stories involving the holidays. I don't want to waste my time so I am wondering if I should fight the urge to make the season a backdrop to any of my stories. I really like the story I am writing now and don't want to ruin it by sticking a Christmas tree in the living room. But I am tempted.

Jamesaritchie
12-19-2014, 04:29 AM
It depends on the story. Somet9imes yes, sometimes no. Using holidays in soem stories works well, and it's a distraction, wasted words, in another story, or against mood and tone in another.

Besides, most magazines I write for have a six month lead time. This means I'm used to writing holiday stories six months in advance so they can can be published without waiting a year. Another month or so, and I'll be trying to come up with an idea or three for the fourth of July.

Becky Black
12-19-2014, 07:57 PM
God, no. I'm not even especially keen on reading Christmas stories, never mind writing them. I only wrote a couple of very short Christmas themed stories when I was writing fanfic, and they're kind of an easy go to for fanfic writers - if all else fails, write a Christmas story! :D

I think they can get a bit too sappy for me. Or at least the wrong type of sappy. ;)

Shadow_Ferret
12-19-2014, 08:17 PM
The closest I get is mentioning what season it is.

Jamesaritchie
12-19-2014, 10:30 PM
I think they can get a bit too sappy for me. Or at least the wrong type of sappy. ;)

It can't get too sappy for me. Apparently the same holds true for an awful lot of readers out there because sappy Christmas stories sell like crazy.

Of course, the holiday doesn't have to be Christmas. Who doesn't try to write a good Halloween story every now and then?

Marian Perera
12-19-2014, 11:10 PM
I just finished revisions on a Christmas romance due to be released next year. One of the characters in the relationship is the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come... so hopefully it's not too sappy. :)

Gringa
12-19-2014, 11:27 PM
Yes. Especially last year's nano when I had no idea what I was going to write. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas slipped in, hung out, and an entire storyline developed.

gettingby
12-20-2014, 12:53 AM
I just finished revisions on a Christmas romance due to be released next year. One of the characters in the relationship is the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come... so hopefully it's not too sappy. :)

I think your story sounds interesting. Congratulations on landing a publisher.

gettingby
12-20-2014, 01:02 AM
If I add in that it is Christmas time, does that add another layer to the story and make it more complex? I love short stories with layers of complexity. This story already has a lot going on, but if I also make it Christmas, it will make a dire situation more dire. But I'm not sure it needs that. I don't want to limit myself with publishing options because of the holidays. How do you know if it is a good idea to add in a holiday?

I write literary fiction and read a lot of journals, but I can't recall a good holiday story or any holiday story from the ones I have been reading for years. I'm wondering if that tells me something.

Jamesaritchie
12-20-2014, 02:22 AM
If I add in that it is Christmas time, does that add another layer to the story and make it more complex? I love short stories with layers of complexity. This story already has a lot going on, but if I also make it Christmas, it will make a dire situation more dire. But I'm not sure it needs that. I don't want to limit myself with publishing options because of the holidays. How do you know if it is a good idea to add in a holiday?

I write literary fiction and read a lot of journals, but I can't recall a good holiday story or any holiday story from the ones I have been reading for years. I'm wondering if that tells me something.

I wouldn't worry about it. Used as background, Christmas makes any setting more realistic, and can add all sorts of elements you won't get with a non-holiday time of year.

If an editor thinks the Christmas background really stands out, he may wait for a December publishing date, but that's a good thing.

I think one serious problem with too much fiction I see is that it doesn't come across as real because it portrays a generic world without holidays, and without fast food joints, for that matter.

Background and setting can be overdone, but the usual problem is the opposite. Too many manuscripts I see have a story that may as well be set Nowhereville, and teh only way the real world is shown at all is by how hot or how cold it is.

Mr Flibble
12-20-2014, 03:14 AM
Holidays (and their meanings) leak in. Not Christmas as such -- we don't celebrate it really, though we take advantage of the whole "everywhere is not working for a couple of days or more"

But the holidays that are important to you are bound to make a difference to your writing, even if subliminally. Then again, I write second world fantasy so I get to make my own :D Holidays are important everywhere. Even on other worlds.

jaksen
12-20-2014, 05:37 AM
I wrote a mystery story centered around a murder in a 'Christmas store,' set at Christmas time.

So yeah, the holidays can figure in my stories, sometimes. It all depends.

DancingMaenid
12-20-2014, 06:24 AM
No, probably because I don't really celebrate any holidays. But I do tend to set stories in the same season as it currently is, probably because the weather and temperature are fresh in my mind. When it's December and it's cold, it's easy for me to imagine my characters being cold in December.

Marian Perera
12-20-2014, 06:35 AM
I think your story sounds interesting. Congratulations on landing a publisher.

Thank you! I never thought I'd come up with a Christmas story, but some ideas just demand to be written.

Filigree
12-20-2014, 07:36 PM
Seconding what Flibble said. I write secondary-world stories that have little connection to present-day culture. The people in those settings have their own holidays.

JustSarah
12-20-2014, 10:30 PM
Simply put: They do and they don't.

I tend to create my own, that are loosely based on things like combining Thanksgiving with Christmas.

Mostly cause I wanted Pilgrims by a Christmas Tree, or some other loosely defined reason.

Snowstorm
12-20-2014, 10:41 PM
Nope. I hate the Christmas season with a passion hotter than the sun. Even when I'm murdering someone (on paper), it's a happier time than thinking of Christmas.

JustSarah
12-20-2014, 11:00 PM
I'm glad someone hate it to.

strawberryblondie
12-21-2014, 12:03 AM
I once wrote a horror story set during Christmas, because I'd always wanted to do that. And I wrote it for NaNo, so I was in the right mood for it. But I don't usually mention holidays unless it adds to the plot.

Sunflowerrei
12-22-2014, 09:55 AM
I once wrote a horror story set during Christmas, because I'd always wanted to do that.

That's awesome! I feel like I should do that; I work in retail, so for me, Christmas season IS kind of a horror story at work.

unionrdr
12-23-2014, 01:11 AM
Holidays figure into my stories only insomuch as showing the passing of the seasons, things that happen to the characters, things like that. Book one of my Time Lords 2034 series is a good example. One of the characters is too young to know or remember Christmas, for example, before everything changed.

Jamesaritchie
12-23-2014, 01:38 AM
I notice it when characters in a novel never celebrate Christmas or Hanakuh, and, of course, never receive Christmas presents. I notice when no one even travels to see family on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and doesn't even notice the rush, the packed roads and airports when others travel. I notice when there are no Halloween or Christmas decorations anywhere, on and on.

It does not make for a believable world.

unionrdr
12-23-2014, 01:40 AM
Good. I thought maybe it was just me. :D I think it's important to show the change of seasons, the moods that go with it, what they see & hear, etc. It's part of the real world & makes the story a bit more believable.

gothicangel
12-23-2014, 01:52 AM
No, it might look a bit out of place in 132 CE Rome. :D Although I wouldn't rule out a future book taking place during Saturnalia.

I work in a museum, so I'm working Christmas Eve, off Christmas Day and back in on Boxing Day. I'll be working on the 25th on my Greek and Latin Essay that due in on the 7th January (writing about the Res Gestae), if I finish early I will do some writing.

ULTRAGOTHA
12-23-2014, 02:05 AM
My WIP takes place from December 31, through at least Mothering Sunday (half way through Lent). They talk about some of their Christmas presents. There’s a 12th night party with a fancy dress ball and a Bean King, and I’ll probably deal with Fat Tuesday.

The whole last part of the story is fashioned around when Lent and Easter are that year. My MCs can’t get married during Lent unless it’s on Mothering Sunday, so my entire plot has to be wrapped up in time to prepare a quick wedding on that day. Fortunately, Easter was on April 22 that year so I have plenty of time.

My MMC and his family will be observing a particularly mournful Lent as a close family friend dies at the end of February so I’ll be dealing with things like fasting and mourning clothes.

endearing
12-23-2014, 02:19 AM
I love the holidays, and it doesn't always happen, but it definitely tends to creep into my writing. Especially during NaNoWriMo. ;)

Flicka
12-23-2014, 02:45 AM
Nope. My current WIP is set in June so it would seem a bit strange.

Funny enough, I write summer better in the winter and winter better inte the summer. I think it's because I have to actively imagine it and that makes it easier to capture in writing. Or I'm just weird. :D

L M Ashton
12-23-2014, 07:07 AM
I'm a Christian Canadian married to a Muslim Sri Lankan, and I've lived in five countries, four with the husband. For those stories that involve humans, yes, sometimes I do. But not necessarily Christian/Canadian holidays - it depends on the characters and where the story takes place. So Chinese New Year might have a mention, or maybe holi or deepavali or maybe Sinhalese & Tamil New Year or maybe poya days or Christmas or Easter or...