Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remember to Include the Holidays

Originally posted by Morgan Mandel at The Blood-Red Pencil blog, but still applies.

Holidays are a great opportunity to enrich your manuscript. The trick is not to just mention a holiday in passing, but to add vivid descriptions of how one is celebrated in your character's life.

You can draw on this by your own experience. Think of a holiday, such as Thanksgiving. What's the weather like outside? That will depend on where you live and/or the climate vagaries of the fictional year you create.

Which people get invited? Who prepares the meal? The mother, the wife, the son, the daughter, one, some, or all? Who helps? How is the table set? That may depend on the station in life of your characters, whether they're well-off or perhaps just-married college students.

What's on the menu? Does it reflect the main character's ethnicity, or perhaps some quirk? Many people eat turkey for Thanksgiving, but maybe your character is alone and eating spam.

What about guilt? There are lots of possibilities for that, such as a dinner guest who forgot to bring a hostess gift. Then there's the working wife who feels bad because she uses canned gravy and ready-made dressing instead of making them from scratch.

Or, what about the eternal ying and yang of invitations to the husband's and wife's houses on the same day, at the same time? Where to go? Whom to please?

Can you think of any holiday descriptions from your own novel or someone else's that stand out in your mind? Please share.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Morgan Mandel
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Rebecca said...

great post Morgan. thanks for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I kept holidays out of my book. Only Easter happens during the time it takes place. I did mention Spring Training for baseball. Isn't Opening Day a major holiday?

Marian Allen said...

I've had a few stories in charity anthologies set during the winter holidays, so those stories were naturals for celebrations.

In "The Spirit of Spadena Street", the neighborhood association is planning a multi-denominationa/non-denominational party.

In "Team Player", a charitable woman's job is threatened right when she needs every penny to buy gifts for poor children.

In "Evergreen Gaze", three men are lost in the woods on Christmas Eve when they go out to cut fresh Christmas trees.

You're right--holidays are so rich with color, tradition -- and tension -- it's great to mine them, even if you write fantasy or science fiction and invent them!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

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Farrah said...

Excellent tips on how to incorporate the holidays. Tips I'm taking away to work with for my own manuscript in the works.

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V.R. Leavitt said...

I actually don't have any stories where holidays occur, but this post definitely gives me some ideas.

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