08 February 2011

Seasons In Writing

I'm not sure if seasons are something you think about when you write, but lately, I have been. In fact, at one point - probably in the car - I went through all my stories and, in my head, categorised them by season. Some of them I'm not sure of still - but for others, the season is an absolutely integral part of the story.

Magician's Thunder, for example, is a story I 'started' about four years ago during one particular summer where it thunderstormed every single evening for two weeks straight. It was amazing. I love storms, especially storms with beautiful electrical shows, and those two weeks were pure magic. There's this one scene where the elder of the two MCs is lying in the bath with her feet propped up at one end, steam misting on the windows, the only light a flickering candle and the flashes of lightning outside that light the bathroom in stark charcoal and white - that scene is straight out of real life, one of those perfect moments where everything is just Right.

I love that scene, and part of me desperately wants to whip that story into shape just so I can write the scene, even though the book is nowhere NEAR the top of my to-write pile at the moment. But the point is, the story couldn't happen any time other than in summer. The season is an integral part of the story.

Jesscapades is a little different. The season doesn't influence the story directly the way it does in Magician's Thunder, but it's still there. Jesscapades is an autumn (fall :P) story, with the sharp chill of winter hanging in the night air but the lazy heat of summer still present in the afternoon. It's a season of slowing down, of heading to rest, of tying up loose ends before the hibernation of winter; winding down, wrapping up, and some things falling apart in decay, like the leaves. And, coincedentally enough, that reflects the themes and ideas and plot of the story. The story closes with ends that have been loose for hundreds of years tied off, with grand structures falling once more into ruin and decay, and with a sense of laying things to rest.

Now that I've thought about this so overtly, I can actually see a lot of places where I can play this association up, letting the story revel in things winding down, gathering in, preparing to hibernate - which is pretty cool. And why not? Settings, done well, can be so much more than just a backdrop for things to happen on. Done right, the setting of the story is alive. It interacts with the characters and plot, changes the way things happen, melds with the life of the story so that the two become one and the story couldn't happen anywhere else. Good stories are like that; their setting is like another indispensible character.

My random thoughts for the day. Have you ever consciously selected a season for your story to take place in, for symbolic or practical or any other reasons? Do you have a setting that you're particularly proud of, that really does function almost like a character to set the mood and tone?

As I'm preparing for teaching creative writing this semester, ideas like this are on my mind, and I'm bouncing on my toes at the thought of participating in all the activities I"ll get the class to do. And somewhere in there will, I suspect, be an activity revolving around seasons :o)


Merc said...

When it's cold (which it is a lot), Winter shows up. A lot.

"Coincidence? I think NOT!" ;)

Amy Laurens said...

Oh yeah. The extremes of weather always have a way of sneaking in. o.0 I think it's torture mentality: I'm suffering, so my characters should too, bwa ha. >:) :D

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