Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas in the story


With the holiday season in full swing, it's a good time for writers to think about whether they have a holiday novella or short story to tell-- or whether to include this time of year in a longer book. It might be too late for this Christmas, but inspiration often strikes when the right energies are in place. Besides, people read Christmas stories year round.

There are reasons (religious and emotional at the top of the list) to not use Christmas as well as reasons it will provide a dynamic to reveal more about the characters.

My first novella was A Montana Christmas. Although set in Montana, I actually wrote it when in Arizona. It was on the drive down two years ago that I decided a Christmas story would be fun for the Montana ranch. I knew the characters pretty well and never had written an epilogue to their story, From Here to There

The novella stands alone but probably is more fun for someone who read the earlier book-- just because it's nice to see how they are getting along.



A plus in writing a novella or short story is either can be slice of life which does not require the same form that a novel should have. A novella that follows a romance does not need the ups and downs of first love-- though it could have them. So the novella is plus plus in my mind-- faster write and it can be about an emotion or theme without the structure issues. The bad part would be if it was new characters, it isn't much time to thoroughly develop them.


I got sidetracked as this is really about Christmas in particular. And when it's about Christmas it carries with it a lot of weight emotionally. Most of at least the developed world has Christmas memories of some sort-- some positive and some negative. How it has been celebrated has varied quite a bit through the ages. So to write a Christmas story involves some research especially if it's historic, but either way, it takes some thinking as to what angle will be taken. Christmas is a two-edged sword with some having only wonderful memories and others finding it a time of loss and disappointment.

Actually I have included Christmas in several of my books. Sometimes as a kind of side note (as in what the characters experienced was off screen) and sometimes as a major element of the story. I incorporated it into Tucson Moon. Neither the hero, nor his estranged daughter, had experienced much in the way of a traditional Christmas. That story had the hero riding into the mountains above Tucson to cut down a tree. The characters experienced the traditional-- decorating it together with friends, but then a rather nontraditional experience (at least for those who don't live in Tucson) of attending a Yaqui Christmas where the Deer Dancer was part of the celebration of giving. Christmas in that book was a sweet interlude before life caught up with the characters and took them other directions. 

A Montana Christmas involves one of the deeper meanings of Christmas where it's a bringing together of families, sometimes even broken families and the spirit of giving offers an opportunity to heal old wounds. This story is more about the lead up to Christmas Day with a Winter Solstice celebration. It also is a chance to show some of what this season is like for ranchers. 


Currently I am writing another Christmas story but it probably won't make it out before Christmas. It is set in Arizona 1900. I also got the idea for it when in Arizona, which at least this time it is set in Arizona in the season I am currently enjoying here. I am not sure if it'll be a short story or novella but it's been a fun write.

I should add that Saturday I joined tsu (https://www.tsu.co/RainTrueax) which is another social media site that may replace Facebook for many of us who are both wanting to connect with others and show our work. If you are already there, I'd be happy if you friend me. If you join later, remember me :). There is some uncertainty as to how Facebook will be for writers after January 1. I know I can't pay a monthly fee anywhere and hope to sell enough books to cover it; so we'll see how this goes! I am never a fan of new techie things but sometimes ya just gotta do it!

2 comments:

Tabor said...

There are so many Christmas stories on TV these days, an author better have a pretty original idea to catch the attention of a reader.

Rain Trueax said...

I don't know about original but it has to have the feel of a real experience because so many do have theirs of Christmas to compare it to.