Monday, December 21, 2009

Holidays in Writing

The post title might be misleading. I don't mean how the holidays affect your writing or about taking a break from writing, but how holidays appear in your writing. Every culture has special days and different ways to celebrate those days. From a fantasy standpoint these days could be very different in underlying premise, but all cultures gather with those they love for their holidays. There are rituals involving food that we eat and drinks that we drink and games that we play. These days are something that every human has participated in throughout his or her life. These days are soaked in memories both good and bad. Some people lost a loved one around the holidays and forever after a bittersweet flavor penetrates. Often holidays bring back memories and can be a good way to naturally bring up little snippits of background. Often holidays are filled with tension between family members. Also, seeing our friends interact with their families gives us another dimension and understanding to them, in the same way this is true about seeing our characters interact with their families. How are they similar to those who raised them? How are they different?

If you are a fantasy writer like I am then you have the chore of developing something new and distinct to the world that you have created. The reward is a deeper feeling of reality that your readers will have. If you are not writing fantasy then in some ways you have a more difficult job. You have to be true to the cultural identity of your character and the holidays because someone, somewhere will read your inaccuracies and will get ticked off.

Are there any books that you have read that incorporate holidays to some extent (without being all about the holidays)? What difference do you feel this made to the story?

12 tidbits:

Spy Scribbler said...

I read this one fantasy book, with Godstones and scorpion pits... was it Karen Miller?

I thought the development of the religion was fascinating. So many cultures center around our religion. Even the politics. Just look at the US, where there's supposedly separation.

Charles Gramlich said...

I always liked in the Dray Prescot series how the holidays were celebrated regularly. It gave it a very rich and realistic feel.

Bernita said...

Eddings "Belgariad" Charmingly and series makes several references to Erestide.Charmingly and naturally done.

stu said...

I'm quite fond of the holidays Pratchett goes with for the Discworld, which manage to be both unique holidays and parodies of ours at the same time. A perfect moment to wish everyone a happy Hogswatch, too.

Lauren said...

@natasha- I'm going to have to look into Karen Miller. I've heard good things, but haven't ever read any of her books. I agree that cultures center around religion and I think that developing a proper religion in a fantasy book is important.

@charles- Exactly! I think that many novels could benefit from the incorporation of holidays.

@bernita- Ah! Now that was a good series. Erestide definitely gave a different dimension on the culture.

@stu- Pratchett is another author that I've not read. Sounds interesting though! Hogswatch is a funny holiday name :) I like it! :)

Lauren said...

@Potikat- Merry Christmas to you and yours as well :)

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Ooh, now I'm thinking - holidays in books? I don't know if you are familiar with the old Rupert the Bear annuals - I love to read about Rupert's holidays by the seaside!

We love our holidays here in Giraffe World - it would be such fun if my bloggy friends were able to join us!

All the best for a wonderful Christmas, and may your writing be inspired throughout 2101, Lauren!

Anonymous said...
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Lauren said...

@Raph- OH! Rupert the Bear! Memories :) Now I have an idea for my nephew for his "stocking" although it wont fit...I will just put it on the mantle next to his stocking :)

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas as well! :)

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Thanks for visiting, glad to see you back. I am racking my brain to think of a book featuring but not seeped in the holidays, and I'm coming up short. Sorry. Happy New Years, by the way!

Andrea Coulter said...

Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart comes to mind, with the Longest Night the major winter holiday; it plays a role in the novel but doesn't take it over. And Maria Snyder's Poison Study has an annual Fire Festival.

Love the site redesign, by the way. That is new, right? Or am I just oblivious? ;)

Lauren said...

@Elizabeth- It's nice to finally be back :) Happy New Years to you as well! I hope it brings you and your family much joy and happiness!

@Lynn- I think that Carey is my favorite author of the moment. She does a beautiful job of incorporating holidays. It makes her whole world feel more cohesive, I think.

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