How has another week flown by so quickly? Here we are on our last day of the Authors’ Open House: Christmas Edition. Haven’t our guests been wonderful? I don’t know about you, but I just love hearing about everyone’s traditions and memories. Thanks to Angela Ruth Strong, Carrie Turansky, Melissa Tagg, and Sarah Monzon for joining the party this week. Be sure to go back and read their posts if you missed any.
Today I’m excited to welcome our last AOH guest for the week: Terri Reed!
Essentials for Christmas Stories
It’s beginning to feel a lot like my ideal Christmas. It has actually snowed in my neck of the woods, which isn’t typical, but I’m loving it. This weather makes it easier to believe there are only 16 more days left before the holiday.
But to prepare for Christmas, I’ve been reading, watching and writing Christmas stories. Because I’m a writer and have a hard time turning off my writer’s brain, I tend to analyze what I’m reading and watching so that I can improve my writing. There are several things I’ve realized are essential, not only for stories in general, but for Christmas stories specifically.
First and foremost, every story must draw the reader in emotionally. I don’t mean go for the easy play on emotions. Rather dig deep and provide the reader, or viewer, with an emotional experience. How do we accomplish this as a writer?
There are several ways, here a few:
*Take the reader on a journey from dark to light, despair to hope. This doesn’t mean the story, or elements of the story, have to be gloomy or evil. The dark and despair can be conveyed as emotional wounds from the past, a recent heartbreak, a set back to the character’s story goal or any obstacle that stands in the way of the protagonist finding fulfillment, happiness, contentment and love. In my story, A Family Under the Christmas Tree, a tragedy in the past pushes the emotional arc of the story.
*Have relatable characters with flaws, hopes and dreams. And conflict. Conflict is the propelling force that sends the characters–and the reader–on the journey to finding a happy ending (a requirement for a romance-which is what I prefer). The conflicts for my characters stems from current circumstances as well as their own issues that come from their past. The characters struggle to overcome the conflicts in order to find their HEA (happily ever after).
*Give your story something fresh. Make it unique. But not so different readers can’t relate to the premise or the characters. In my story, I wanted to explore the dynamics of sudden parenthood for a single man. For me this was different, something I’d never tackled before.
*Setting is paramount to a Christmas story and is what sets the story apart. There are so many wonderful ways to show a Christmas theme from the weather, decorations to the feelings (going back to point one) that come with all the festivities of the season. I chose to set A Family Under the Christmas Tree in Bellevue, Washington because I wanted a city feel with a country flavor. A suburb of Seattle, Bellevue is a unique little place of its own with yearly traditions, like the Snowflake Parade through downtown. A fun and festive way for the whole town to celebrate.
May your Christmas be merry and bright and full of fun Christmas stories to warm your heart.
About Terri Reed
Terri Reed’s romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publisher’s Weekly top 25, Nielsen’s Bookscan Top 100 and featured in USA Today, Christian Fiction Magazine and Romantic Times Magazine, finaled in RWA’s RITA contest, National Reader’s Choice Award contest, and ACFW’s The Carol Award contest. Contact Terri at www.terrireed.com.