Holidays Inspire Stories

Around the world people are celebrating.  Some, the birth of a child in a stable.  Others, a day of gifts and gatherings with family and friends.  Others celebrate their own beliefs in traditional festivities.

No matter what you celebrate, or who you celebrate with, enjoy this season of goodwill.

And while you are unwrapping presents, singing carols, attending church services, lighting candles, be aware of the vignettes you see that hold stories to be told.  When you listen to the conversation of family and friends, or eavesdrop on the excited play of children, listen for those moments that spark inspiration.

In those moments you’ll find the seeds of new stories.  One word or phrase will trigger an idea that you’ll build into a scene.  And onto that scene you’ll layer a new idea that leads to another scene.  Before you know it, a child’s innocent question has turned into the first chapter of a novel.  Or an article for a magazine you’ve wanted to break into.  Or a short story for a new contest with a lovely cash prize.

You never know where you’re going to find material for your next manuscript or article.  But holidays, especially those so treasured by so many, are especially fertile ground for new ideas.

We as writers need to develop a different set of ears.  We have our normal ears on all the time.  Those ears hear our spouse ask us to stop for milk on the way home.  They hear our children ask us to help them go down the slide, or hear the neighbor call hello as he walks to his car in the morning.

With training, our writers’ ears hear the “what-ifs” in everything.

Wearing your writers’ ears, you walk into the grocery store and see a tired clerk manhandling the fresh produce.  And you hear this little voice in your head say, “What if, when the clerk dropped the head of lettuce on the floor, a diamond necklace fell out of the center?”

As you help your child climb the steps on the kiddie slide composed of a large candy-cane-striped tube, your writers’ ears hear her holler at her friend, “I can go down the slide by myself!” and that little voice says, “What if a child gets to the top of the slide, goes into the tube, and never appears at the bottom of the slide?”

When your neighbor, wearing a colorful knit hat with ear flaps, hollers “Happy holidays,” that little voice says, “What if my neighbor had strange, pointed ears, and scary creatures gathered around his house each night?”

So I ask you, “What if you paid attention to what your writers’ ears hear, and you listened to that little voice, and your great big “What-If” turned into a best selling novel?

Can you hear me now?  I’m wishing you and yours a joyous celebration of whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, full of love and laughter, family and friends.