Writing by the Seasons #MondayBlogs

How difficult do you find it to write about spring when there is snow on the ground? Or the festive hustle-bustle of the Christmas holiday when you’re planning a beach party? As a writer, it’s easy to dip into our imagination and resurrect a setting on which to draw, no matter the time of year. I don’t need to sit poolside with the sun on my face and the scent of chlorine in the air to write about a summer swim. Most of the time it isn’t plausible to have our fictional seasons coincide with reality. If you’re like me, you probably start writing during one season and wrap your book in another.

Creative concept of beautiful simple image of sunset through tress reflected in lake in foreground coming out of magical book laid open

Case in point—I remember writing Eclipse Lake, a book set at a summer resort, to the symphony of a winter wind howling outside. Daytime temperatures didn’t climb above the low 30s and the sky was a bleak gray canvas.  It would have been nice to actually hear the crickets and tree frogs I mentioned in my story. To smell the unique mixture of lake water and boat fuel permeating the novel’s marina, or even feel the brush of wind as it races across the meadow where my hero and heroine meet. Instead, I was  inundated with snow. And sleet. And freezing rain. And more freezing rain.

Writing isn’t seasonal, but it does make me realize how often I choose a particular time of year in which to frame my stories. All writers have a cache of stored work.  In looking back over mine, I favor using late spring/early summer as the preferred cornerstone for my novels. Autumn is another favorite, particularly the month of October. I’m getting ready to start book 2 of my Hode’s Hill Mystery Series, and plan on setting it in the fall. Book 1, by no surprise, was set in early June.

I’ve only used winter as a time frame once and that was for a Christmas novella, Food for Poe.

As a season, winter gets a bad rap. Sure, there are strange—kidding!—people who love it, and it does have some intrinsic appeal. Some. Like cuddling in front of a fireplace, the glimmer of starlight on freshly fallen snow, or bundling beneath warm blankets with someone you love. Overall, though I’d just as soon skip it or limit it to the month of December.

Creative concept idea of Winter landscape coming out of pages in magical book

But here’s a shocker—as much as I don’t like to write stories set during winter, I love reading books that use it as a setting. Anyone ever read Northern Lights by Nora Roberts? I was enthralled by how vividly she brought the Alaskan setting to life. And I will gladly read and reread The Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett simply to wrap myself in the author’s phenomenal descriptions of bitterly cold Czarist Russia. A feast for the senses! In the hands of a skilled writer, winter sparkles and bewitches.

What is your take on seasonal writing and settings? Do you find yourself using the same season in most of your books? Is it hard to write about summer while experiencing winter and vice versa? Do you enjoy reading books set during a particular time of year, or are you a gal/guy for all seasons? Let’s get some discussion going in the comments!

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42 thoughts on “Writing by the Seasons #MondayBlogs

  1. Pingback: Guest blogger Julie Holmes: Writing by the Seasons | From the Pen of Mae Clair

  2. I live in South Florida, so every season is summer for me. lol! For the most part, that is the season in which my stories take place because it is the season that I know best. Still, I enjoy reading other books that bring in the other seasons. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Natalie!

      I do some of my best writing (and reading) during autumn and winter, and I do love setting books during the fall. I’ve used the season a number of times, and am planning to do it again in my next books. Even though everything is fading, there is such a vibrant burst of life and color before succumbing to winter.

      Your poetry is always serene and tranquil, one of the reasons it resonates so strongly with me.
      Happy Tuesday 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think most writers do the same, Robbie. It’s a good thing we have vivid recall 🙂
      Manuscripts take time and they often cross boundaries of one season to the other during the creation phase. I know mine do.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post, Mae. I never thought about it before but I guess I’m stuck in the summer. in my head, the temperature is always 8o degrees. I guess cause for nine months of the year it is 80 degrees. In Circumstances of Childhood, I did manage to have a little bit of fall. It was Austin kind of fall. yeah, you guessed it 80 degrees.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never thought about it in regards to writing. But, in the music world, almost all Christmas albums are recorded in July. Of course, that is because of the way marketing works, but still, I thought how hard it might be for an artist to sing about snow and north wind dressed in shorts and tee. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, Mae! Living in a place where the seasons are front and center during the year makes me want to incorporate them into my books. I’m using winter in one of my books, and the followup will be in spring. Each season has a personality, and if I can use that to help or hinder the characters, bonus!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Each season has a personality” — what a great way of looking at it, and so true!
      We get four seasons here too, (which I love, though I could do with a far shorter winter). I know your winters are long and probably a lot colder.
      I love reading books with winter settings and will be looking forward to seeing how you employ that in your book!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love autumn. My first Driscoll Lake book was set in September/October but during a “not so normal” year. I actually incorporated the worst drought in recent history for Texas into the story. The second book begins in summer but ends in early December. As much as I want to set the third book to begin in autumn, I think I’ll do the spring, just for variety.

    Funny, the only thing I have trouble writing are stories set during Christmas. I always get geared up for Christmas in December but after that, I lose my enthusiasm. Managed to do a short story for an anthology last year, so maybe I’m breaking the mold. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think a variety of seasons is good when you’re writing a series. Like you, I’m mixing up the seasons in my newest series.
      The drought was great inspiration to use in a plot and also somewhat unusual. In addition to seasons, weather patterns make great backdrops too.

      I can’t remember when I wrote Food for Poe, but I think it was in the fall, because I wanted a Christmas release. That was a little easier than writing AFTER Christmas, which probably would have been hard. (Note to self: write Christmas stories between September and November) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Looking over my writing, I seem to gravitate towards spring more than the other seasons. Only because I use rain a lot. For some reason, I never think of the other weather patterns unless it’s a big factor in the scene or the setting is more prone to a certain type. I don’t believe the real weather influences me other than affecting my mood and energy. Rainy days just drain me of mojo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting that you use rain a lot, Charles, but find writing on those days draining. I do some of my best writing on rainy days (I think because I’m stuck inside).
      Spring is one of the seasons that invigorates me with writing. It’s a great season to use in books because its so transitional when coming out of winter. Good choice!

      Like

  8. I am a big autumn person. I love the fall colors, and characters can dress in almost anything, based on location. We have temperature swings from the high 30s (usually overnight) to the low 90s.

    I don’t use the outside season to frame my writing. I just write.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re doing those temperature swings right now, Michele. 🙂

      I rarely ever write based on the season I’m in, but I do love when they coincide. And I agree that autumn with all of its brilliant colors is amazing!

      Like

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