WRITING AND THE SEASONS PART 1

Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about how the four seasons can set the stage and mood for a story. This post will cover winter and spring, and part two will continue with summer and fall.

It depends where you live in the world when you get your winter, but unless you live in the tropics, you get some cold. Even in Hawaii, they pull out their sweaters in the winter months. Not everyone gets snow, but at some point, we all get rain.

BOOKS SET IN WINTER

I like to have snow in my stories. It adds tension to the plot if you can’t get out of the house and are cut off from the world. I use my personal experience of having ridden out many snowstorms without power, road closures, a dead landline, or no cell signal.

Winter can signal hibernation for bears and humans. That makes it a perfect season setting for thrillers and horror set at home or inside. The backdrop is dark and dreary, with the threat of storms and conditions hard to survive outside.

It is also a time of celebration. When families come together, and beautiful lights warm our hearts. Trees are dressed in their finest decoration, and there is an abundance of food and gifts flowing to our loved ones. Here, giving and sharing love can be a theme for a story. Still, winter usually comes into play, trapping a couple together or stopping someone from getting to their holiday destination.

Traveling is different in storms, either snow or rain. There can be floods or personal survival in the elements. Roads may be impassable, or airlines may cancel flights.

The character may have to prepare for a house full of guests for the holidays or find themselves alone. In both situations, they can be trapped due to weather conditions, when the power goes out, or when a hospital is needed.

Celebrating a new year may be the perfect time to get engaged or arrested after a night of drinking and losing control on the frozen roads.

One thing is certain, the characters need more clothes and have to consider a coat or even gloves when going outside. The colors are darker and more muted.

While winter can be a time of depression, regrouping, reconnecting, and being alone, spring brings forth a time of renewal.

BOOKS SET IN SPRING

Spring is a time of year where stories can be attired in flowers, green hills, and chirping birds. It is a period where pastel colors and nature’s perfume can be a powerful part of the story.

It’s the most hopeful of the four seasons as life returns, especially if you live somewhere where winter created a barren landscape. Spring is an ideal setting for fantasy. A place where butterflies and fairies can roam amongst the flowers so freely. The air and gardens are full of magic.

Schools offer breaks for families to be together just like in winter, but now they can go outside without the heavy equipment needed for survival. Maybe the family gets lost in the wilderness and reconnects or helps a small, injured deer. They could also run into a bear who just woke up from hibernation doesn’t want humans in their territory.

These few months provide a setting with so many possibilities. Where roses and feelings bloom and the school year is ending—which means proms and graduations.

The stories can be set outdoors now without harming the character with winter’s icy hands. Most important, though, is nature is calling us to venture outside.

Inside, spring cleaning begins not only in the house but in the character’s mind. The personal journey makes for interesting reading.

Seasons can be another character in your story. Do you use winter or spring as a background in your writing? How does it affect your plot?

71 thoughts on “WRITING AND THE SEASONS PART 1

  1. Pingback: WRITING AND THE SEASONS PART 2 | Story Empire

    • I’m happy this post inspires you to try a season. I did a assigment once for a class where I took the same setting but changed it using different times of the year and day. It made the same place upbeat and cheerful or dark and moody. It a lot of fun to do 🙂

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  2. I never really thought of seasons, most likely because it’s always a shade of summer in South Florida. Sure, it can drop to the 50s (which is freezing for me), but the only clothing that changes is adding a jacket. Now that I think of it, my stories all take place in summer. It’s what I know best. Great post, Denise! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Yvette 🙂 It does make sense that you write about the season you know and love best! I got cold when it dipped into the low 70s in Hawaii since I’m used to being warm there 🙂 Adding that jacket brings a layer of detail to the story I think.

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  3. Great post, Denise! And you gave me an idea for the opening setting in my next book! I don’t often think about the changing seasons. You’ve pointed out how much the season can influence the mood and plot of a story, and your examples prove it. In fact, we escaped the sheer drama of winter to come to the mellow warmth of Florida’s two seasons: Tourist and Hurricane. Looking forward to part 2!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Patty 🙂 Yay! Glad this inspired and I can’t wait to read it. Winter does offer its drama, like it is right now for us…lol. i know a lot of people who have made the same choice. Your Florida seasons crack me up.

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  4. Great post and book examples. Misery by Stephen King immediately jumped to mind for winter. I’m re-reading The Book of Koli by MR Carey, where summer is the most dangerous time and the trees move and attack you. Seasons and storytelling have so much potential. Thanks for sharing, Denise. I look forward to part two! 💕🙂

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    • Thanks, Harmony. Misery is another good winter choice. I havent read The Book of Koli. You have me curious with attacking trees. Yes, definitely lots of potential in the seasons 🙂

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  5. Excellent post, Denise! I like stories with nature as the backdrops. They add great dimensions – sights, sounds, colors, temperature, pleasure, and tension. I have many winter catastrophic stories such as driving on black ice that made my car skid, road closed driving to Reno, started snowing as soon as arrived at Whistler without chains for the tires, and more. We have to travel to experience winter. Most of my immediate experience, as you imagine, is summer in So. CA. Look forward to your next post.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Miriam 🙂 The season do add those dimensions that otherwise wouldn’t be there. You do have some snow stories! Going over that summit can be a scary perspective! You do get a lot of summer in S. CA that is for sure and all that goes with that. Plus, you have the rainy visits to Portland.

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      • How wonderful if we could incorporate all the dimensions in our stories, Denise. The two grandkids’ birthdays are in spring and autumn, and my daughter and her husband’s birthdays are in summer and winter. If I could go to all of them, I get to see the four seasons in Portland! 🙂

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      • How nice you get to see all four seasons there. Such a pretty place! It would be fun to incorporate all of that.

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  6. A wonderful post, Denise. Spring and summer are my seasons. Being in Michigan, for me, spring marks a new beginning. Naked trees cover themselves in the lush green attire of a pending summer. Flowers color the formerly gray landscape with the hope of warmth and sunshine. Your post has me eager for spring! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Beem 🙂 It is a new beginning not only in the landscape but I feel inside of us too. It is a time when I write a lot of poetry and maybe a children’s story. Spring and Fall are my favorite times of the year, but winter has the peace and quiet I seek too.

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  7. An excellent post, Denise. Seasons are great plot enhancers for sure. I tend to pretty season neutral but I’m th8inking that I really should build in some seasonal variation. I remember how well those snow scenes worked in your book This Last Chance.

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  8. This is a great post with lots of ideas! Thanks so much for sharing, Denise! I love the mention of specific books and then the story ideas for each season. It’s so true, though. The season plays a huge role in the story from beginning to end.

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    • Thank you, Mar 🙂 There are so many ideas and it definitely depends where the writer lives too and how they see the season. The holiday storms are different compared to other times of the snow season. I love playing with that but find I enjoy nothing better than a nice snow storm in a story.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Funny you write about seasons today, Denise. Almost all the novels in my Grafton County Series are set in fall and winter. I didn’t plan it that way. This is a new revelation. Facebook sent me a memory I shared for book 2, and it was then I realized I write this series during the holidays every year. Strange, right? Guess the holidays wouldn’t be the same without torturing Sage (protagonist). shrugs

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    • It’s funny what comes out in our stories depending on the time of year we write them too. I have your series on my reading list and will be thinking about when you wrote it. I don’t do much write in December but if I did I wonder what I would come up with. Thanks, Sue 🙂

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  10. Thanks, Diana 🙂 I love the tension and obstacles that winter creates! You are so right that in some books winter becomes the antagonist and makes a story a page turner for me. Spring is more hopeful and when I write a lot of poetry or children’s stories, but like you said winter adds the excitement!

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  11. This all makes lots of sense, Denise. Most of my current WIP takes place in the winter, and the season offers lots of opportunities to ramp up the tension and create obstacles. There are lots of books where winter is the antagonist. 🙂 Spring is less interesting to me, but it certainly does set a more hopeful mood. Fun post!

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    • Thank you, Jacqui 🙂 I love the same thing. When I’m rooting for the character to find shelter or warmth, the author has provided the magic in the story that I always appreciate. I agree it is beautiful artistry on their part!

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  12. I’m very conscious of the season in which I set my books and stories. Seasons contribute so much to the setting. For the most part, my books are set in summer or fall (my two favorite seasons), but I’ve done a few in spring and one in winter. Although I rarely use winter as a setting myself, I LOVE reading books set during the years coldest season. Snow is a wonderful element that can contribute to a beautiful nighttime setting with it’s lovely hush, or (in the reverse) be horribly claustrophobic and ratchet up the danger.
    Cool post, Denise!

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    • Seasons do offer so much to the story can become the driving force in many situations. It makes sense we tend to write about the seasons we love, and I always notice that love shine through the characters in the settings. Like you I love reading stories set in the snow. There is that unique quiet that can offer contemplation or a danger that is hard to escape. Nature is so important to me and the seasons each have their a special twist. Thank you, Mae 🙂

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  13. What an interesting topic, Denise. It’s true, the different seasons can provide the perfect backdrop for a story. I love the examples you shared and the different scenarios for winter and spring. When I read a well-written book that is set in winter, I often find myself reaching for a warm blanket while I read. I like reading stories set in spring outdoors. Thank you for sharing and welcome back from vacation!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Jan 🙂 They sure can provide that backdrop and offer so many options and obstacles for the characters. Isn’t it great when reading about winter makes you actually feel the chill of it? And not being outside in the spring enjoying the beauty seems impossible to me.
      I’m happy to be back! It was an experince seeing Christmas from a tropical point of view and then coming back to an impending snow storm. Opposite weather and settings, yet same holiday. So many what-ifs in there!

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  14. This is so helpful, Denise, and well-written and explained. You’re so right – such a difference in scene if the setting is winter or spring. And ah yes, snow brings on quite a lot of drama! Thanks so much for this great post.

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    • Thank you, Pam 🙂 There is such a huge difference in the setting and the mood of the story. Snow is very dramatic to both the landscape and the lives of the characters in a different way than the blooming flowers of spring. Such possibilities! Xo

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  15. Great blog, Denise, and some lovely suggestions. The Shining’s an excellent example of how the winter can add to the drama and I also love the more gentle backdrop to Anne of Green Gables. Many thanks. xx

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    • Thank you, Alex 🙂 Winter definitely added a drama and dilemma to The Shining. Spring though offers the complete opposite with with Anne of Green Gable, which is why I think the seasons can be used almost as their own character.

      xo

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  16. I try to stay aware of the seasons to show the passage of time. I have set quite a few tales in October, and finally wrote one in winter. It’s also helpful in science fiction to switch seasons when you switch locations. A different planet for example might be in the throes of winter after coming from a dusty desert.

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    • There is so much survival to focus on in winter, which is fun to explore. October is a great setting for mant types of stories too. Good point, Craig, about science fiction and different seasons on neighboring planets. That not only shows where the character is but different elements they need to survive in.

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  17. Wonderful post, Denise. Writing through the seasons adds depth and brings the story to life. Imagining the cold of a snowy afternoon sets the tone and brings in mystery. I love this post! 💗

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    • Thank you, Gwen 🙂 It does add that extra depth and makes it so much easier to imagine for me. That tone of a snowy afternoon, or night, does bring to mind a mystery to explore. I love the possibilities offered.

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  18. Terrific post, Denise, and timely for me. I’m currently writing a short story that has lots of elements of nature and goes through all four seasons. Being a nature lover, I don’t think I do enough with the seasonal elements, but I’m striving to do so in the WIP.

    The examples you gave were great. Hard to believe that Murder on The Orient Express would have had as much tension had it been set during another season.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Joan 🙂 You have me curious about a short story going through all four seasons. I’m that nature lover too that wants the characters out there exploring that love in some way, although its not always possible in all story lines, I do try.

      I don’t think Murder on the Orient Express would be the same story without winter mixed in 🙂

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  19. Great post, Denise! Most of my writing is set during spring and fall…probably because I don’t like the cold. Also, my publisher requires submission of outdoor scenes from our stories when designing the cover. I enjoy writing outdoor scenes when the weather is beautiful and warm verses my character’s teeth chattering. I would like to write a Christmas story, but I might have to set it in Florida. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Jill 🙂 Perfect seasons to have the characters outside enjoying the milder weather and the beauty of spring and fall. It would be fun and different to set a Christmas story in Florida or any tropical setting, Jill. I’d read it and I’m always looking for Christmas stories with a twist.

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  20. I love it when settings come to life. I consider it one of my weaknesses and always strive to do more with it. My latest release used snow (it’s set around Christmas in Pennsylvania). Actually, I have quite a few stories set around Christmas. You’d think I love snow. I don’t. I don’t mind the cold, but I don’t trust other drivers around me. And I hate to shovel.

    I wrote an experimental series of vignettes once, covering one month at a time for twelve months. (It was years ago.) I’d intended to use the seasons strongly, but I ended up very character-focused. (I usually do.) I think I’d like to try that experiment again, and this time REALLY focus on setting. Hopefully I’ve learned a few things since then. In any event, loved this post and looking forward to your next one.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You used snow and Christmas so well in your latest, Staci. I don’t know if we have to like the season to make it work in a story, but it must feel real and it did to me. I’m with you about driving in it, so I won’t anymore. My back won’t allow shoveling at the moment which is completely okay with me;) I’m more of a watcher of snowing and the cozy feeling I get with it. It can be isolating too, which my introvert loves and the writer finds inspiration.

      I love your idea of writing a story for each month of the year and focusing on the season. That would be a great challenge and each month has something new to offer. Thank you, Staci 🙂

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      • My back isn’t up to shoveling, either. But I don’t have anyone to do it for me anymore, so I don’t have a choice.

        Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad the setting came through.

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  21. Brilliant post. I loved it and the books that you suggested are simply awesome! Wow. I am going to make sure that I read at least one or more in each category. Winter makes a wonderful background and adds thrill to the story. Thank you so much.

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  22. Thank you, Robbie 🙂 The Shining is one of his better books. I didn’t get to experience snow until we moved to it 30 years ago. I never tire of watching it snow. It offers so much potential in a story. Anne of Green Gables is definitely unforgetable.

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  23. Hi Denise, a splendid article. Winter certainly plays a big role in The Shining [the best of Mr King’s books in my opinion]. I have only experienced snow in South Africa once in my lifetime. I have experienced snowy winters in South Korea in 1995 and in the UK in 2009. I don’t have much snow experience and my character in my new novel is in snow up to his ears. I’m having to read up a lot on snowy conditions. Anne of Green Gables is another favourite book of mine. Who could forget the ‘white way of delight’.

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