Dear Reader Who Writes,
It is that time of year again when tinsel and fake snow are seen liberally strewn over windows and every house in the neighbourhood is illuminated by thousands of watts worth of multicoloured flashing bulbs. Giant inflatable Santas bend at the waist as they slowly prolapse onto the lawn and herds of plastic reindeer can be found grazing on every municipal greensward.
Ah yes, Christmas!
The time every writer remembers the magic as a child of seeing the Christmas tree lit up after hearing swearing coming from the front room for an hour. Or the apparently endless amounts of food on a groaning board, whilst relatives are sitting, groaning, bored and picking fights for the sake of it. Or the sound of carols through the shopping-mall loudspeakers being interrupted by non-sequitur advertisements and announcements. Or the excitement of unwrapping presents so quickly replaced by the despair as another Christmas jumper hand knitted by Great Aunt Tracey is revealed beneath the gaudy paper or a pair of thermal, odour-reducing socks in vibrant tartan from Mumsie.
This, dear RWW, is the very magic you need to ensure you capture on the tip of your quill and then spread in decorative loops and swirls of language to fill the pages of that essential for every aspiring author – the Seasonal Short.
How to Write A Seasonal Short Story.
To be honest, a wise beginner will start with the lesser festivals of the writing calendar. Maybe a little romantic flash fiction for Valentine’s, working through to a Halloween Horror so that by the time you reach the height of over-played, sentimentalism that is Christmas literature, you will have the technique somewhat practised.
But fear not, mes petites, even if you have not been preparing, even if you have never set pen to paper or finger to keyboard in a literary endeavour afore this moment, follow my three golden rules and you will be in with as much of a chance as the most famous author.
Rule One: Make it Maudlin.
Do not stop at soppy and sentimental, instead toboggan through the more flaccid emotions and pitch straight into the point where Merry marries Melancholy and keeps up an affair on the side with Nostalgia.
Rule Two: Make it Short.
This is Christmas. Your reader will be well sozzled, exhausted from family rows and trying to avoid the Queen’s speech. Their attention span will not be long. A novella is too long.
Rule Three: Make it Shiny.
Use lots of words like ‘sparkle’, ‘glitter’, ‘glow,’ ‘luminescence’, ‘coruscation’, ‘shimmer’, ‘gleam’ and ‘twinkle’.
So there, in a Nutcracker Suite, dear Reader Who Writes, is my Christmas gift to you. Use it wisely and every future festive season will bring you joyous prosperity from your literary endeavours.
You can find more of IVy's profound advice in How To Start Writing A Book, the worst ever 'how to write' book. Read IVy's advice with editorial comments on each blog piece by his mother, Jacintha. All courtesy of E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago.