This isn't a time of year when holidays are predominant in our minds. But with last Saturday being St. Patrick's Day, I recently got thinking about all the different holidays we celebrate every month. (August is the only month of the year without a federal holiday.)
And they can play a key role in our novels as well. Here are some ideas to freshen up your story:
1) Turn a holiday into a deadline. We all know how effective the "ticking time bomb" effect can be. Why not ramp it up and pair it with a holiday that holds significance to the characters?
Sure, you could always do the kiss at midnight on New Years Eve. But what about something less obvious, like Ash Wednesday? What if your character is an FBI agent who's chasing down a Ponzi scheme that patterned itself after a popular TV show? But the agent is giving up TV for Lent, which starts in two days, and he needs to unlock the code before Ash Wednesday?
Anybody seen the movie Leap Year? What if your character's birthday is February 29th and they only get an actual birthday every four years? How can you play this up in your book? Or what about federal holidays when the post office doesn't deliver mail? What if your character mails an important payment, but it arrives a day late because of Presidents Day?
3) Incorporate holidays with wardrobe. Although these may not be major players in your novel, they can add authenticity and quirks that set the stage for conflict and characterization.
We can all think of costume parties where guests' identity are concealed. Or what about a misfit teenager who forgets to wear green on St. Patrick's Day and shows up at school as the outcast? Or what about the family who for 20 years has taken a group portrait on Christmas Day in matching red sweaters, but on Year 21, the "perfect child" shows up in all black?
The idea behind all these points is this: Be mindful of the timeframe of your novel and be aware of the holidays that may take place. Are there ways you can incorporate them into your story to add depth and conflict? You never want it to be forced, but you may just find that missing piece that will make your novel shine.
Let's talk...What sort of holidays have you incorporated into your novels? Have any lesser-known holidays wormed their way into your stories? What fun twists came to mind as you read this post?
*St. Patrick's Day photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
**Mail photo by digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sarah Forgrave is a stay-at-home writer-mom who feels blessed to pursue her calling and passion. She writes contemporary romance for the inspirational market and is a contributor to the webzine Ungrind.
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