This time of year is filled to the brim with celebration and ritual. There are holiday parties, special foods, and time spent with family. The holidays evoke feelsings of nostalgia, joy, and (for many, a huge amount of) anxiety.
True. But how does that help with writing? The holidays provide rich sensory experiences and extreme emotions that are just ripe to be
stolen borrowed for inclusion in your narratives.
The richness of a scene set in the midst of a celebration will add more depth to the world you are creating. Hidden in all the sights smells and sounds are clues about culture, character and society. And as I was reminded on the Mom Writes Podcast: All stories need world building.
And we haven’t even cracked the bottle on the heightened emotions of holidays. Celebrations often occur annually which causes wistful thoughts of years gone by. And ceremonies that mark special life benchmarks (weddings, graduations, funerals) foster feelings of resentement or superiority as comparisons are made. Essentially celebrations are time of self reflection and self assessment which can rear its ugly head in all kinds of ways, which is great for adding drama.
Below I have written a few writing prompts that I hope might trigger something useful for your project.
“Why cant I just have a normal Christmas?” He said… Describe what his concept of a normal Christmas is and how his reality is different. Who (or what) are obstacles to his version of normal?
“Happy Effing New Year,” she muttered as people jumped and cheered around her… How does the culture you are writing about celebrate new year? When does this celebration occur? (During the planting of crops? The orbit of New Venus around an alien star? Or on December 31st?) What goals do your characters hope to achieve in the new year? Are they haunted by disappoints from the last year?
“I have been waiting for this birthday my whole life!” …How were birthdays celebrated in the childhood of your characters? Have they held on to these traditions or run from them? How does the culture feel about aging in general? How do your characters feel about getting older?
Merry Christmas and happy writing to you all!