Monday, February 9, 2015

Writing About: Winter

In my Writing About blog series feature, I have offered advice on how to write about certain characters, scenes, and even places, but not seasons. Until now! I’m starting with WINTER!

The following is a list of several things you should keep in mind if you’re writing (or plan to write) a story set in the US during winter. (You may not have to us all of these. What you’ll use will depend on your story. And I say US only because other parts of the world experience their winters during different times.)

Picture from Pixabay
1.    Nature

Winter has the biggest impact on nature than any other season. In the winter, trees are bare, birds migrate south, grass turns brown and dies, and many animals hibernate.

·         Plants- Christmas trees (Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Blue Spruce, White Pine), Evergreen Holly, Poinsettias, berry bushes, and mistletoe are common plants during the winter.

2.    Dropping Temperatures

If your story extends over a period of time, make sure to let the temperatures drop lower and lower. You can even throw in a day or two where the temps climb just enough to melt a little snow.

3.    Clothes

If your characters are going outside in the winter, (unless they live in Florida or the Bahamas) they won’t be stepping out in shorts and a T-shirt. Bundle up your characters in long sleeves, winter jackets, hats, scarves, gloves, and even earmuffs.

4.    Snow

It wouldn’t be winter without snow, especially up north, so let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Describe the snow on the ground, as it falls, how it becomes slush when it gets warmer, and how sunlight reflects off it.

·         Snowstorms

Just like you can bet on thunderstorms in the summer in warmer climates, you can bet on snowstorms hitting in the winter in colder climates. A blizzard can be a major part of your plot where your characters will be trapped inside together with no electricity, the cold, and buckets of boredom.

Image from Pixabay
·         Snow Fun

Let your characters have a little fun, even if you’re writing a thriller you can still do this. Your characters do deserve a little break between all the action scenes. They can have a snowball fight (See this post for tips on that), go sledding, skiing, snowboarding, or ice fishing.

·         Snow Preparedness

Show that your characters know how to deal with snow by using a snow blower, shovels, ice scrapers, and even putting chains on the tires of their cars. This can easily be done with a simple sentence.

For example: John shoveled the driveway and rechecked the chains on his tires before driving to work.

5.    Fireplace

If your characters live somewhere that sees snow, a fireplace is always a nice addition to a house. You can have one of your characters read a book in front of the fireplace. You can have a family roast marshmallows, or a couple cuddle. Don’t forget to describe the crackling wood and sputtering flames.

Image from Pixabay

6.    School

As we all know, kids are off for their holiday break for about two weeks in the winter. If there are kids in your story, include this fact in your story line. A single mother would have to entertain her kids. This could put a little hitch in her budding romance. You can also show the kids having fun outside and anxiously waiting for...

7.    Santa!

For children, winter signifies the return of Santa. If you do have children characters, have them write Santa a letter, beg their mom/dad to see Santa in the mall, and even ask if Santa is real. Each of these moments will add something special, heart-warming, and even funny (if you want it to be) to your story.

8.    Holidays

Winter would not be winter without Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Years Eve, or Valentine’s Day. You can pick one holiday or all of them if your story is a novel that follows your character’s lives through a few months. Don’t forget to include what makes these holidays so great.

For example:

Christmas- Christmas trees, presents, Santa, and parades.

New Years Eve- Midnight kisses, champagne, and resolutions.

Valentine’s Day- Love, heartbreak, dinner dates, chocolate and flowers.

9.    Shopping

Winter is famous for its Christmas mall madness and day-after sales. Let your characters experience some of this craziness complete with large crowds, short tempers, and parents scrambling to get their brats . . . I mean, kids . . . the newest and best toys.

10.  Foods/Drinks

In the winter, we tend to eat heartier meals and enjoy hot drinks. Below you’ll find a short list of foods and drinks that are in season and are popular for this time of the year. Letting your characters enjoy these foods/drinks would be a nice touch, as we tend to link them with winter time:

·         Food- stew, chili, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, cranberries, assorted nuts, gingerbread, Christmas cookies, porridge, and fruitcake.

·         Drinks- eggnog, hot cocoa, hot cider, and mulled wine.

Image from Pixabay


QUESTIONS: When you think of winter, what comes to mind? What do you love most about winter? What do you like least?


87 comments:

  1. I am a winter lover so I really enjoyed reading these tips. A good description of winter really sets the scene :)

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    1. I'm a winter lover too, and that's probably because I live in Florida and don't get to experience real winter. :)

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  2. I have always loved winter and this is my year in probably 40 that I won't see any snow and I am wondering why a tree down the street is already budding out... but I do like to write about winter and you offer many examples of how to make it more real. I like the way the moonlight can make the snow appear to have diamonds and how, when it is really cold, the snow squeaks under your feet and your breathe like a steam locomotive. As for my least liking of winter, it is the season of mud that comes when things begins to warm up.

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    1. You give a great example as to how to be vivid and use the five senses with the moon/sun light reflecting off the moon, and the sound the snow makes when you walk on it. And the puffs of breath is a good detail to include as well.

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  3. Great advice, Chrys! I love all your little details.
    In all honesty, I've lived in New Jersey for most of my life and I hate the winter, lol. Right now, as I gaze out of my window, there is freezing rain falling causing black ice and chaos. My school author visit was canceled this morning because of the weather!! When winter messes with my visits, I am not a happy camper.
    The only time I enjoy this season is around Christmas. If we could have one week of winter and the rest of the year be warm, I would skip to my car every morning.

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    1. I forgot to mention, I nominated you for an award on my blog today=)

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    2. I'm sorry your school visit was canceled. Black ice, freezing rain/sleet, and blizzards are definitely a big downfall to winter. Thanks for nominating me! I'll check it out soon. :D

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  4. I like the sparkly snow too but I can see how harsh conditions could make a thriller more interesting. Hard to make a fast getaway when you're skidding on ice! These were great tips.

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    1. Exactly! Black ice would make a car chase more exciting! That gives me some ideas. ;)

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  5. My 2nd book was an Mystery/Thriller and it took place during the holidays, which was challenging. Especially when your asking the characters to suspend any sort of celebrations when their supposed to be chasing an aspiring criminal mastermind. :)

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    1. Knowing me, I'd find a way for my characters to experience a little of holiday cheer. ;)

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  6. Winter can either be bleak or beautiful. And there's always snowball fights. Those are fun to write.

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    1. You're said that right, so winter is a great season for writers...mystery/thriller = bleak romance = beautiful. :)

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  7. Winter is definitely a fun one to play with. With A Shot in the Light, which is near apocalypse, the lack of power and services gets important as winter comes into play. I also had to do a lot of checking of norms, as I had characters in different places and winter in Atlanta is different than winter in Colorado is different even from winter in Kansas (next door).

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    1. I would not want to brave winter without electricity. Brr!

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  8. So far no snow falls in space. But one never knows!

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  9. I could sure write about winter, but my hate for it would probably shine on through lol

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    1. LOL! And a lot of people would probably agree with what you write about it.

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  10. Winter is beautiful to look at and horrible to experience. It's the still crispness of a frozen night and the raging gale of a blinding blizzard. It's the joy of sledding and the frustration of a car stuck in a snow drift. It's the promise of Christmas and the frigid sting of frostbite. It's the magic of Northern Lights and the cruel death of starving deer.

    I love it and I hate it. ;)

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    1. You captured winter perfectly in your comment, Chris. Thanks for commenting!

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  11. I hate winter in reality and now that I think about, I don't think I've ever used more than a light snowfall in any of my novels. LOL Now I have to really consider using the season more.

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    1. I bet you could pull off using winter to its full extent, Susan.

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  12. Even Tallahassee gets cold, though. That was a shock to a lot of people our first semester at FSU.

    When I think of winter, living in a subtropical state like Delaware, I think of a lot of weather disappointment. Blizzards are every few years. Snow shuts down schools because Winter mostly equals rain here, therefore ice, therefore accidents galore. We also don't do Santa, but celebrate the birth of Jesus for Christmas.

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    1. I imagine Tallahassee does get colder than other parts of Florida as it's closer to Georgia.

      Not everyone celebrates Santa, and that's fine! You don't have to write about Santa if you don't want to. Santa is just a common association with winter that can be included in a story.

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  13. Every winter, my favorite aunt's repeated invitation to join her in Sarasota, Florida seems so tempting. I hate snow, cold, shoveling, and the times I have to drive in snow. Since most of my characters live in places which experience snow, I have to write about things like extreme winter weather and being snowed in. My Lyuba severely breaks her right arm and hurts her head because of a serious road accident in December 1938, as well as having her water break a month before her guesstimated due date. A nightmare she had 13 years ago and can't stop thinking about starts coming true when she discovers her right hand and arm are too badly damaged to remain her dominant side.

    I always felt bad for the Orthodox kids because Santa leaves the mall after Western Christmas. Not everyone celebrates the holiday in December! In my Atlantic City books, the mall Santa stays until Orthodox Christmas, as well as being forced to take complaints from disgruntled kids who don't like their presents.

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    1. Gosh, I feel sorry for your character. But serious writers put their characters through hell.

      And that's why this post isn't just about December, but the whole season. :)

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  14. I'm going to have to move from California. We just don't experience winter here. I have to travel to see snow if I want to write authentic snow scenes. :-)

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    1. I'd have to travel to see snow too, but I like to think I wrote authentic snow scenes in 30 Seconds. :)

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  15. That photo at the top of the post captures the best of winter for me - sheer visual beauty. We don't get much of that around here. Winter is just grey and damp this year. Worst part when we go get snow? Power outages!

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    1. I'm glad you liked the first picture! I tried to find one that showed the true beauty of winter.

      Power outages in the winter are terrible!

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  16. Love this! My WIP starts out in winter, so I've used a few of these ideas. Especially the food--there's a bit of a disaster while making stew...

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    1. A disastrous stew, huh? That sounds like a funny scene. :)

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  17. Fun post, Chrys! What I don't like about winter season is the darkness. That's why it's a great season to set your mystery or crime story in. But beginning right about now to end of February the days get noticeably longer. I always find that symbolic to hope, love, returning to life in spring. I love all the things you mention about winter. The food and drink is a great detail to add to a story.

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    1. Winter is a very dark and deary season. It is perfect for mysteries...and naps. It's not very cold here in Florida, but it's a gray day and I'm sleepy!

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  18. I'm a person that gets cold very easily so I don't really like the cold. Yet I really want it to snow so I can get an Adult snow day. That's what I love most about winter, the snow. It's fun to watch my children play in it and then end the night with some hot cocoa or porridge.

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    1. You and I have that in common, Lidy. I get cold very easily. I have to wear socks (at home) year-round because my feet are always freezing. Odd thing is, I like it when it gets cold. Even though my body doesn't handle it well.

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  19. Winter is the task of shoveling snow, and the joy of watching the birds feed, hoping around on the very place you just cleared away.

    Thank you, Chrys. (smile)

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    1. I'm glad I don't have to shovel snow. ;) I do enjoy watching the birds that migrate down here.

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  20. You make winter sound like fun. Really, I don't like winter. The only fond memories I have are building snowmen when I was younger. The best was making snow ice cream. Yummy. You had to eat it in a hurry, though, cause it melted fast.

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    1. Did I? I did mention snowstorms. haha

      Snow ice cream sounds delicious!

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  21. I'm not a fan of winter. I don't like the cold at all.

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    1. I don't mind when it gets cold, but my body doesn't like it.

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  22. Thank goodness I live in Jamaica. You gave some great references for winter Chrys.

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    1. You mean Jamaica doesn't get snow?! :O

      Kidding! :P

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  23. Winter in Adelaide usually doesn't have that same magic to it. Partly because it's in July not December, and partly because it doesn't snow here, it just gets dreary, windy and rainy.

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    1. You're right, winter in other parts of the world is vastly different.

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  24. Winter is my second favorite season after autumn. I love playing in the snow, and I really love curling up inside under a warm blanket with a good book as the snow falls outside.

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    1. Mine too! :D I don't get to play in the snow though.

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  25. I do miss the snow having been born and raised in Michigan. Good chance next year we will be spending plenty of time there in the winter.

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    1. Hey, I was born in Michigan, too! But my family moved to Florida when I was two so Florida winters are all I know.

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  26. Excellent post.
    I love winter. The calm stillness. There's a silence that only happens on cold winter nights.
    Not overly fond of driving on black ice. Even less so if the SUV in front of me suddenly flips.

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    1. Oh, yes, the silence of winter. It can be peaceful but also eerie.

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  27. Very good tips. I think a winter setting is one of my favorites because of all the different descriptions you can use for it.

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    1. It's one of my favorite book settings too! :)

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  28. I always emphasize the snow fun. Winter is the best time of the year >:)

    Cold As Heaven

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    1. Snow fun is always fun to add to a story.

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  29. I love this series! I think the image of someone warm and cozy inside with snow outside is one of the best things about winter.

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    1. I agree, Stephanie. That's why I sometimes wish that it would snow in Florida. ;)

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  30. What a great post! What I love most is sitting by the fire curled up with a mug of cocoa (or glass of wine) and a good book or a board game. :)
    ~Jess

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  31. My WIP actually takes place during winter! I'm not a fan of cold weather but I do love hot chocolate:)

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    1. Awesome! Oh, yes, hot chocolate is good!

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  32. I love winter and loved writing about it for Polar Night. It actually came much easier to me than writing about the summer for Polar Day. I know that makes me a little nuts LOL. But I just love the winter setting both when I'm writing and when reading.

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    1. Winter is pretty easy to write about, even for me and I live in Florida! lol

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  33. I might encounter winter again someday. Maybe Cera will land on a winter world!

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    1. I definitely think Cera should land on a winter world. That would be interesting!

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  34. I LOVE winter...and love writing about it too!

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  35. Winter always seems magical to Hibbs and me ... especially first snow: you go to sleep the world looking one way, and then you awaken to find everything transformed in snow and icicles! You are on my latest post today by the way!

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    1. Winter is magical. :) I am? Well, I'll be stopping by right now!

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  36. Out here (Southern Arizona) Santa arrives in a covered wagon, but it's debatable as to whether Reindeer or Burros pull it -ha! About the time we get a brief respite from scorpions and snakes, black ice appears on the bridges that span our dry riverbeds and huddled birds on the lines above bear witness to the effect on unwary motorists. Natives in sleeves and sweats jog alongside Snowbirds in shorts and sunscreen under trees adorned with holiday lights so we don't miss the leaves. Snow is a rare and random occurrence around here but has the comedic effect of Natives in shorts and hiking boots with nary a Snowbird in sight!

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    1. I love how Santa changes from location to location. I know in the Bayou Santa's sled is pulled by alligators. :)

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  37. Oh yeah, you've captured the nuances of this long season. And reminded me of all the glorious joys in the dailyness of the cold, snowy season!

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    1. I'm glad I could remind you of the joys of winter, Linda. :)

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  38. You covered a lot of aspects of winter in this post. Out here in L.A. the season doesn't change too much, but I've had plenty of my times in the cold wintry weather.

    One of the things I vividly recall is the crunching of the snow underfoot as you walk through it and how pant legs stiffen with an icy build-up when walking through deep snow.

    While driving with snow blowing almost vertically toward you it can become dizzyingly disorienting and it reminds me of those movies when the spaceship goes into hyperdrive and all the stars are flying past.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Oh, you live in L.A.? I didn't know that. :)

      I remember when I went to Michigan for the first time to visit my days years ago. It was my first time seeing snow, and the first thing I did was step into it to hear that crunch.

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  39. I don't see much of a winter living in Miami, but I do miss snow. I haven't written in a snowy setting yet, but this is all good to know.

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    1. I live in Central Florida and I don't see much of winter either. I love it when it gets cold here!

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  40. Great tips, Chrys - but they made me wish I wasn't enduring a revolting, humid summer right now. hehe

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    1. Thanks, Trisha! And I'm sorry your experiencing a yucky summer right now.

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  41. I love all your writing prompts for winter, gives people a lot to think aboutbin their writing of it. Winter to me is cold weather, LOL. looking forward to being a minion along with you.

    Betty

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  42. Great tips. Have you ever thought about putting these in a book, like the Emotion Thesaurus? You could call it the Season Thesaurus, or something catchier.

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    1. I have thought about creating a book with all of my helpful posts. One day! :)

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  43. I love winter, and this is a fantastic post! Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Margo, and you're welcome! :)

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