I’m a big fan of September. It’s the time when the countryside takes on a mellow look, apples hang heavily off trees, and the harvests are in, or nearly so. Birds that have an autumn song to proclaim their territories are in full blast singing to keep away this year’s kids, who are now on the look out for their own patch.
Of course, it’s also back to school time; traffic patterns change, and life in your household probably returns to the ‘where’s my schoolbag?’ drama of the mornings.
The race is on to get back from work or school before it gets dark, snatching the last few minutes of daylight to do essential things outdoors, whether sport, gardening or playing with the animals in their pens or hutches. It’s why I have my guinea pigs indoors – nothing comes between us and our chats!
Some books let you get right into the seasons, or at least give you a sense of the time wrapping itself around you. I’m usually a big fan of those. I appreciate the care an author gives to creating the mood to go with the weather, or the light, or the colour of the leaves on the trees, or the scrunch of fallen leaves on the path. Or the slipperiness of sodden leaves as you try to get the car up a steep hill away from the evil stalker…
A book I read this summer used seasons really well. Magyk, by Angie Sage, was the Book of the Month for the Goodreads Great Middle Grade Reads Group. That took us through a range of seasons, including slimy autumn fogs, and a huge snowstorm with accompanying weeks of ‘big freeze’. Using the weather in the story made it all the more elemental for me.
When I’m writing, I keep a timeline for the story that not only includes who’s doing what with whom, and allowing for travel time as necessary, but also the seasons, and the phase of the moon. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to moon phases. Always good to know you can see the way as you escape through the moonlit landscape, but if it’s solidly dark yet you can gaze at the stars with your lover the next day, well… it takes two weeks to get a new moon, although other phases will do, at the right time of night. Moon phases are absolutely critical if you have werewolves in your story, of course!
If you find it difficult to think of writing seasons, I recommend a book by J Lenni Dorner that I won in a giveaway earlier this year. Preparing to Write Settings That Feel Like Characters is a really useful book with plenty of tips and food for thought.
Seasons that feel like characters. That’s something I’d like to achieve. What about you?