Saturday, April 27, 2019

April's Round Robin Blog

Our Round Robin topic for April asks: Does the season ever play a part in your setting? How do you think seasons affect setting and plot either physically or metaphorically?

Writers are always looking for ways to enhance the drama in their plots and the nuances of their characters. Just as we sometimes use the weather to create a mood or direct the way a scene goes so we can make use of the seasons in both our settings and in our characters’ moods.

I have certainly used the seasons in my books. In my first Regency romance my character, Emmaline, is abducted on a perfect September afternoon. By the time she is rescued and returns home, it is a whole month later and the trees in the estate park have already turned colour. In the second Regency, a lot of the book takes place at sea and in Jamaica, but Juliana calculates that she left England in January and it’s now September. In both books, the seasons are not plot lines, but more indicate the timeline.

Janet Evanovitch, in One for the Money, uses the season to describe Stephanie Plum’s New Jersey ‘hood: During summer months, the air sat still and gauzy, leaden with humidity, saturated with hydrocarbons. It shimmered over hot cement and melted road tar.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling writes of fall: Autumn seemed to arrive early that year. The morning of the first of September was crisp and golden as an apple.

Everyone seems to love spring, with its hopeful sense of the summer to come, but Charles Dickens writes: Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade, which speaks to the duality in this more than any other season of the year.

In the movie The Winter Guest, set in northern Scotland, the husband of Emma Thompson’s character Frances, dies suddenly, leaving Frances distraught. Her mother (in real life as well as in the movie) played by Phyllida Law, comes to stay with her. The film opens with a shot of the mother walking across frozen fields and with the camera later panning across a frozen sea. I’m not sure that Frances’ grief would have seemed so soul-deep if this story had been set during any other season but winter. The bleakness of the setting seemed to represent the bleakness in her soul and vice versa.

Just as light and shade and the time of day can influence the moods we try to create in our story, so can the season. Let’s take a look at what opinions these authors might have.