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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Summer as a Leading Character (because season matters!)

 USA Today Bestselling Author of Sweet Romance set in the Victorian American West

Today is March 21st. Spring Equinox. Halfway between the Winter Solstice (longest night of the year) and Summer Solstice (longest day of the year). The solstices and equinoxes (spring and fall) have been celebrated all over the world since before Christianity, before much written history, simply put: before. The Wikipedia page is so long you'll zone out before you're 1/10th of the way through. Unless you're a history geek like me.

Let's talk about something else.

The SEASON of the year is a strong and valued player in fiction.

I've written dead of winter romances and peak of summer romances. Whether the bitter cold and short days become the vital antagonist, stealing the hero's hope of saving the girl (The Marshal's Surrender) or long, hot summer days bring the hero and heroine together in surprising ways (Courting Miss Cartwright), I tend to ensure the season is a valued player.

Fiction doesn't happen in a vacuum.
1. Fiction doesn't happen in a vacuum. If you've ever read a "Story In Vacuum"--fiction before a green screen--you know readers need a setting, and that setting had better matter.
2. Heat, long days, and short nights lend summertime to one kind of romance (I write only Rated G or PG--and yep, matters to "sweet" too), while numbing cold, limited daylight, and tight quarters (who wants to be out in that blizzard?) suit another.
3. Remember the truth about fiction: No Conflict, No Story. Weather is a natural conflict-producer. Cue storms from delicate spring shower to a monsoon/ tornado/ blizzard.
I've shared why Weather (winter, in this case) can assume the role of villain. Now I'll flip to the light side and share why summer can (and should) assume the role of a leading character...villain, sidekick, friend, instigator.

Summer, as Leading Character:

Every summer does indeed have its own story.

1. Entirely different range of possibilities for out-of-doors scenes than in other seasons. I really hate writing a book with every scene cooped up in the same log cabin. Not good conflict to build a story.
2. In the nineteenth century (my scope), people were on the move in summer. Winter was iffy. Throughout the 1880s alone, winter conspired for ten long years to keep trains from moving, people locked down, and let's not even talk about the flooding that followed. Hot and dry? Vegetation for animals? Let's go!
3. Summertime put nineteenth century folk to work from sunup to sundown with the work of living. Farmers had time to sit and play cards in winter. Maybe. Virtually everything in life revolved around natural sunlight--time to go to bed, time to arise, how much work could be accomplished, what crops were growing and had to be irrigated, keeping the equipment functional, raising and training new animals, and getting enough to eat. Note: this is setting, not story.
4. Summer can just as easily take the starring role of villain: tornado season, killing heat, droughts, crop failure, sun exposure, etc.
5. Because. Summertime equals BEACH READ, in any romance category. Who wants to lay on the beach and read a Christmas story?

We might not be quite ready for a beach read...so, what are you reading this Spring Equinox (March 21st)? Is it important to you to read a book set in the same season as you're personally living?

Please scroll down and comment in the space provided. I'd sincerely like to know!

Hi! I'm Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author.
I write frequent articles (or view recent posts easily on my Home Page, scroll down) about the nineteenth century American West–every subject of possible interest to readers, amateur historians, authors…as all of these tidbits surfaced while researching for my books. I also blog monthly at Sweet Romance Reads, Sweet Americana Sweethearts, and Romancing the Genres.

I love to hear from readers! Please drop me a note. Or find me on Facebook.

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Copyright © 2017 Kristin Holt LC


Lynn Lovegreen said...

I agree--weather and the seasons can be an important part of a story. I often read something in a different season than the one I'm in--like warming up with a summer book in the wintertime. :-)

Kristin Holt said...

Hi Lynn!
Brilliant thinking--enjoying a spot of summer during a long, cold winter. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.