Mining the Holidays
If you’re like me, the holiday season is jam packed with festivities with multiple get-togethers with friends and family. And some sort of drama. This year, our drama consisted of engine trouble smack in the middle of a four hour trip. We were lucky enough to make it to our family, but our car was in the shop for the entire three-day trip that we had planned. Now, I’m lucky enough to have an amazing family, so I didn’t mind being “stranded” with my sister Chaundel. In fact, I rather enjoyed being able to spend some time with her and her family. But the potential for conflict was ripe.
You’ve had holidays like this, I’m sure, whether it was the time Uncle Franky had a little too much eggnog, or when Aunt Bertha got stuck in the doorway. Maybe your flight was snowed in and you were stuck in the airport with half a million strangers.
Take your experiences from the holidays (or borrow the greatest stories about the holidays from your friends) and write it down. Develop it. Fictionalize it, so that you can take a step back from whatever drama may have befallen your poor family, and let your characters wallow in it. There are few things that evoke more emotion than the Christmas season. Sure, it’s a time of celebration, of joy, of remembering the birth of Christ. But in American culture, the season is also full of stress, angry obstinate people, interpersonal conflicts, traveling, and inclement weather. This dichotomy makes for great fiction.
If you ever find yourself stuck in a story, change the setting to the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and watch how that changes the story.
Here’s wishing you a conflict-free life in 2011, and rich conflicts in your fiction.