Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Have spooky decorations and giant grab-bags of candy put you in the mood to write a Halloween story? Or perhaps you’re skipping ahead to Christmas and writing a tale about the beloved Christmas icon, Krampus? No matter what you’re celebrating, holiday stories are a treat for readers and writers alike. You may feel like you’re throwing your best ideas away on a story that nobody would want to read for eleven-out-of-twelve months a year. However, during that short window when your story is seasonally appropriate, it’s like the feeling you get when you dig your box of leftover illegal fireworks out of your attic on July 1. Here’s everything you need to do to craft your own story for whatever holiday you want:
[pullquote]If you’re not writing a Valentine’s Day story in a candy-heart font, what are you even doing with your life?[/pullquote]
- Word choice: Use words like “spooktacular,” “Hanukkah-lamity,” and “equinoxious” to get into a holiday mood. These are a lot more versatile than you might think.
- Font choice: Everyone knows that submission guidelines are relaxed for holiday submissions, meaning it’s cool to use Chiller for your Halloween ghost story. If you’re not writing a Valentine’s Day story in candy hearts, what are you even doing with your life?
- Chow down: Halloween and Thanksgiving are food-based stories set during autumn, so make sure that all foods are candy, turkey, or pumpkin spiced. Combine them if possible.
- More egg nog: Your characters should all be drinking egg nog because it’s delicious and good for the soul and every year it’s taken away far too soon. I don’t give a damn if you’re writing about Casimir Pulaski Day, no reader has ever said, “There’s too much egg nog in this story.”
- The True Meaning: This is your chance to put your own spin on the True Meaning of Christmas, the True Meaning of Halloween, the True Meaning of Flag Day, the True Meaning of National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, you get the idea. By infusing your cracking prose with important lessons about the season, you can make your favorite holiday as fun and exciting as a university lecture.
- Holiday Mascot Battle Royal: Who wants to read about Santa Claus battling Cupid and Martin Luther King for the heavyweight title? Really? Nobody? Huh. You sure about that? You are. Hm. Huh. Okay.
- Inspiration: Get into the spirit of things by wallowing in traditional holiday celebrations. Put up the tree! Carve a jack-o’-lantern! Set off some fireworks! Keep in mind that most publications make editorial decisions several months in advance, so you’ll have to light your menorah in May, and just paint a jack-o’-lantern face on a pumpkin seed in April. On the bright side, you can tell your neighbors you’re leaving up your Christmas lights until June as research for a story.
- Add some fireworks: See entry for egg nog.
- Mix ‘n’ Match: If The Nightmare Before Christmas has taught us anything, it’s that Tim Burton can make anything look creepy, and that mooshing two holidays together is a recipe for success with a capital $. I’ve always thought Arbor Day and Mardi Gras would make a cute couple.
What’s your favorite holiday, and how do you plan on exploiting it for writerly and financial gain? Let us know in the comments!