Saturday, December 21, 2013

The seasonally adjusted story

Christmas, or indeed any holiday, seems to bring out a bunch of authors determined to write the "perfect" seasonal story.
This is an old article, reprinted to remind authors of the main points of a holiday story.

Dearest Editor,
I know you will be wanting to buy some Christmas stories with Christmas just around the corner so I am sending you my latest masterpiece. I just know you will love it as much as I do.
Originally it was going to be about Halloween but life intervened – you know how it does – and I didn't get it finished but I just changed the pumpkin pie into mince pies so I am sure everything will be fine.
Love from,
Your Favorite Author.

Hello Author,
I am sorry to inform you your book is not acceptable as it is. You need to do some more revising.
I can quite understand that it may snow at Halloween and Christmas where you live, but you sent your hero and heroine off on vacation to Uncle Charlie’s in Australia – and December is summer there. They need sunscreen and flip flops, not coats and snow boots.
And in Australia chrysanthemums flower in May not December.
And birds do not fly south to escape the winter. South is the Antarctic. It is very cold there.
Your Editor.

Dearest Editor
Since it took you a whole month to read my book I am not going to be able to get it ready in time for Christmas now, so I have made it into a Valentine’s Day story. The pumpkin pie/mince pies are now jelly cakes in the shape of a heart – so very romantic.
I have changed the flowers and the birds. Did you know Begonias flower all year round – I can use them in every book I write and never have to worry again!!!
Love from,
Your Favorite Author.

Hello Author
Maybe because you have changed the dates of your story so much there is now nothing at all to make it a real Valentine’s Day story. Jelly cakes in the shape of a heart are indeed a lovely romantic gesture but they do not specifically say “Valentine’s Day”. Nor do Begonias.
Perhaps you should decide on a holiday and stick to it. Do some research specifically about that holiday and then weave those items into your story –spooky details for Halloween, maybe some carols for Christmas, and something unusually romantic for Valentine’s Day. Really the whole point about writing a holiday story is that the season is an integral focus of the plot – it brings the characters together for a reason or to a specific place or to do something different from normal.
If you send your characters to some special location you should use that location in the story. Uncle Charlie lives in Queensland – there is a very famous coral reef there that I am sure would make a wonderful background for a romantic scene.
I am sorry to inform you that your book is still not acceptable in its current form.
Your Editor.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

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