Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ask O: A Season for Every Occasion

Happy Ask O Wednesday! This week’s question deals with those finishing touches that make a novel rich and layered: How do you pick which seasons to use for your story? Does it matter?

I don’t know about you, but I really get into symbolism. I think the four seasons provide us with great opportunities to set a mood, hint at plot, and even show characterization.

A Symbol for All Seasons

Nothing good happens in winter. Okay, in real life I can think of a few things. But in fiction, winter often brings to mind malevolence, cold-heartedness, the death of goodness, and so on.

In fact, each season has its own connotations. For instance,

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold:
Bare, ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73

Shakespeare compares growing older to the yellow leaves of fall. Fall lends itself to this. In contrast to these midlife blues, look at another quote from the bard, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” Brings a picture of a bright, young love, doesn’t it?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has a perfect example of this. When the White Witch controls Narnia, it’s “always winter and never Christmas.” Then when Aslan is “on the move,” not only does Father Christmas finally arrive, snow begins to melt. By the time the children make it to the stone table, bees are buzzing, flowers blooming. Lewis’s use of changing seasons—going from winter to spring in one afternoon—is a beautiful picture of how Christ transfers us from the winter of our sin to the spring of new life.

Cool, huh?

Try It, You’ll Like It
As you revise your story, try intentionally focusing on the season. Just a few simple references can transform a scene from lifeless to powerful.

Don’t forget to leave me a question about writing, either here or on my website

Happy writing!