No, that’s not a secular festive greeting, that’s the tip for this Friday, December 23, 2011, Christmas Eve Eve. Although the “happy” part isn’t crucial. Miserable Holidays might be even better. Stressful Holidays. Conflicted Holidays.
Have you ever noticed that a lot of short stories focus on a holiday? It’s a natural, when you think about it. The holiday is a short period of time, just right for short fiction. It’s an organic reason for people to come together--nothing contrived necessary. They are often emotional and stressful. People come into them with high expectations and generally a great deal of baggage, and when those expectations are frustrated--look out! People often do some crazy things on holidays. It’s a great setup for conflict, and that, after all, is the heart of the short story.
So, if you’re looking to do a little writing during this last week of December, try this exercise: Pick a holiday, any holiday. Imagine a family gathering in celebration of the holiday. But one member of the family brings a guest—an unwelcome guest. Instant conflict! I can imagine countless possibilities here. I may even write a story myself.
Have a great holiday!