Wednesday, December 9, 2009

'Tis the Season

Oh yeah, I know about the holidays, shopping, baking, decorating, yadda yadda, yadda… but I am talking about IN BOOKS.

You see, I think from my years of reading to my children, I’ve somehow internalized that a book ought to start in the summer, dive into the action in the fall, and go from there.

The problem? I get about 600 pages into my story, it is Christmas time, and all hell is breaking loose. It’s happening again. I’m beginning to wonder if I have some morbid association between violence and Christmas, or whether I’ve internalized the Potterverse so much that I think every final climax ought to happen on Snape’s birthday (January 9, for the uninformed).

Academically Grounded Characters

Harry Potter and Percy Jackson (my two favorite youth series) both have book cycles of the academic year.

When I first began writing CONFLUENCE with an Academic Main Character recruited to a new location, there wasn’t even a different ‘starting time’ I considered. Of COURSE you move for the new academic year. I have one recruitment chapter the spring before, and then start with the move in August.

With LEGACY the logic was a little more about the WHAT than the WHO. One strand… they spy thing… had no necessary timing, but when I had Athena run away from her drug addicted mom to live for months on the street, I wanted to ease her into it… I made it summer so it could be a little easy at first—fountains to clean in, outside all day, no worries about freezing… then a little harder when school starts and she has to stay out of sight during then day, then the progressing cold… I needed her to ‘stay a while’ and feel self sufficient, learn some things, THEN need to find help.

CONFLUENCE is a stand alone book—one giant plot, now 600 pages (nearly 800 as originally written). LEGACY is the first of a trilogy. As I finish the second book, which I’ve changed the name on by the way… currently calling it ILLUSIONS, I am 600 pages into one MAIN story that breaks nicely into 3 sub-stories, each of which stands alone and here we are… action is all going to wind up in January AGAIN.

Seasons in Adult Books

I know some of them HAVE them… it seems like most take place all within a season, or else only recognize this or that holiday. I don’t know if this convention is some rule I don’t know about and I’m breaking it badly?

So I guess I am asking all of YOU.

Do you know of books with an identifiable flow through time?
Do you know of advice that says ‘leave the calendar out of it?
How do you feel about books grounded in a season? Do you even notice?
Do you ever consider the flow of time in specifics? (month, year)


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Mental block, but aside from Potter I can't think of any. The only thing that comes into my head are books set during wars that follow the boundaries of the war's dates.

I did offer to write my editor a Christmas book for my series and she persuaded me to write a regular book. But I don't know why...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Watery Tart said...

I think maybe there is a 'you can only read it at the right time of year' thing--which is silly, but I guess some readers may feel that way. I see a lot of 'summer reads'--beachy things... but I know they PUSH summer reads--it is a whole marketing strategy.

I wonder though, if you cover LONGER if it is okay to include on those landmarks...

Not Hannah said...

The magical realism book I'm writing right now is broken down into "moons." The turning of the year is really important to the turning of the plot and the crisis comes at the Winter Solstice. So for this particular book, because it stretches over a year, the seasons and holidays are important.

I am a reader who reads by the seasons: LITTLE WOMEN in the winter, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES in the spring (but ANNE'S HOUSE OF DREAMS in the winter, Robin McKinley in the summer. Diana Gabaldon in the Fall. These are, of course, my book friends that I revisit from time to time. I love it when books come out that coincide with what feels like the right "time" for me.

Watery Tart said...

Not Hannah-I love moon cycle books... a lot of fantasy stuff seems to include them (I'm a moon baby myself--Cancer and all) so that sounds very cool. Jessie-my teen in CONFLUENCE pays some attention to all that (Wiccan and Pagan stuff beins sort of hip hobbies in the Pacific NW where she is from).

And I love the idea of season books! It's true that I like more dense substance in reading in winter (cuddled with cocoa reading), and lighter reading in summer (the stuff compatible with a rum buzz)... I'd just never thought about it before.

Helen Ginger said...

I hadn't thought about this before, but I think I favor spring or summer for time periods.

Straight From Hel