Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seasons and story settings

This is a topic I’ve wanted to talk about for quite awhile, but I never seemed to think of it when it came time to sit down and write my weekly cri de coeur on Type M. For some reason, while I was out stoking the fire under some ribs I’m smoking for dinner, it flashed across my brain. Perhaps it’s because today in Toronto it’s so bloody hot.

In looking back over my oeurve – I guess I’m also feeling French today – I’ve noticed that summer only figures in the plot of one novel, and not all that strongly. Generally, I’m heavily weighted towards the year-end of the scale, late fall mostly. Now that’s very curious to me, because my favorite time of the year is summer – blazing heat or not. You’d think I’d want to write about my favourite months.

Delving more deeply into my writer’s psyche, I’ve been puzzling over a reason for this. I generally don’t even consider the time of year when I set out on yet another long journey to novel nirvana. I suppose at some time there might be a book that needs a snowstorm in which a character needs to get lost, or summer heat and a boat adrift might work for some plot line or other, but these are very specific things for a story to need. How often would we write a boat adrift novel?

Currently, I’m working on a novel that’s set in January and February, but a lot of it won’t take place in Canada. Those are the two months of the year that can be most miserable north of the 49th parallel. Perhaps I should check with my protagonist to find out if she’s escaping to Italy to get a little more sun and heat into her literary life. I know that I’d certainly rather be in Italy when the temperature plummets to twenty below and the winds are howling. Carnevale in Venice might make a nice break in February.

Perhaps that’s what it is! Maybe it’s all about the author’s longing for something else, something better. I know I send my characters to places I’d like to visit, and sometimes that’s an excuse for me to visit, too, in the course of researching my novels. Maybe it’s all a ploy on the part of my subconscious. I certainly enjoy adding subplots and backgrounds to my novels using things about which I’m not all that well-versed. Setting is certainly one of those things.Oh…now it’s becoming perfectly clear…

Thanks for letting me think out loud on your dime.

1 comment:

Charlotte Hinger said...

This book I'm writing now is set in Kansas (as usual) during a hot, hot summer. I hope I didn't put a curse on the state, because we are setting record temperatures.