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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Writing the Seasons

This is probably going to sound mundane and stupid, but I put a lot of thought into the seasons of my novels. What time of year is it in the novel at its beginning? Its end? You're thinking: why does it matter? And I guess in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't. But the seasons have a pull over us; they stir emotions and mark the time and play recklessly with our memories. They're a part of the setting, same as a house, a precinct...a garage.

I break it down like this:

Summer and winter, those are the solid months. The stable ones. Summers are hazy and green and draped with finicky clouds. Summers taste like watermelon and strawberries; they smell like cut grass and ozone, like sweat and hot pavement; summers are laughter and late nights and endless, sun-stained evenings, tiny sounds of margaritas melting in fancy glasses. There's a certain sluggishness about summer, one that's acceptable and even fostered. For teens in school, summers are ripe with possibilities, bursting at the seams with opportunities and glimmering at the edges with the hope of first, real love.

Winter is sluggish in its own way; we long to be indoors, to be wrapped around books, to be stacked with sweaters and burrowing under blankets, swapping our gazes between roaring fires and beloved movies that toss blue shadows across our faces. Winters taste like coffee, marshmallows; winters smell like a whole family cooking, and snow; winter always smells of snow. There's an austere beauty to the screaming wind and scraping branches, the vivid bite of the cold against our bare faces and the slivers of skin where gloves meet sleeves. Winter is the world sleeping, and as we wait for its return, we are consumed with ourselves, with our person-to-person problems.

But spring and fall - those are the times of change. That's one season crawling toward another. That's when the light doesn't last long enough, and with the sunset comes that little shiver, the sense that the melted sunshine of the day will give way to something sinister; it sends us inside, sends us to our people. Everything is new and wondrous in the spring and the fall. A little smoky, a little fresh, a little wicked.

For me, the seasons of change are a helping hand when writing a novel. Every novel marks the beginning of a change for a character. Something new is happening, something life-altering. I love to use fall - with the exception of Keep You, all my books begin in the fall, or at the threshold of it. I use it; I let it help me.

I love the way the weather brings people in close, gives them excuses to get wrapped up and touching.

Boys look better in fall and winter clothes; they just do. I have this thing for men's jackets. Especially for men's leather jackets. Men don't wear leather jackets anymore, and that's a crying shame. And denim and flannel - necessary.


(It doesn't hurt if the men in question are Tom and Daniel and Steve. Just saying)

Fall marks the beginning of fire season. That smell. I need it.

Fall is busier; it lends a certain urgency to any story. Just as each season paints faded strokes over the action, flavors the air.

Just something to think about.

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