*This post updated May 2017*
Let's talk about seasons! No, I'm not talking about July=summer or those kinds of seasons. What I'm referring to is what I like to call "book seasons". I feel that every book has a main 'season' or feel to it, or sometimes even the themes can relate to a season. Each season means different things, and there can be a vast array of different types of books within a season.
A quick look at what I mean:
Spring: The main feeling throughout the book will be hopeful, new beginnings, light, fresh, tender, inspiring, and uplifting. Some books that I think fall under this category are: Anne of Green Gables Series, Heidi, Old Fashioned Girl, Pride and Prejudice,
Summer: The main feel of the book is bright, optimistic, young (at least at heart), realistically cheerful, and full of love and life. Books in this season are: The Miss Billy Trilogy, Pollyanna, Three People, Emma, Cranford, Miss Cayley's Adventures, and The Campfire Boys Series.
Autumn: This season feels a nostalgic, coming-of-age, or old age, melancholy, sweet, but a little sad. Some books that fit here are: Johnny Tremain, Calico Captive, Little Women, The Haunted Room, Ester Reid, Friedrich, Sense and Sensibility, Bridge to the Sun, and The Lamplighter.
Winter: Winter feels cold, still, quiet, and lonely-- but with a grandeur. It is elegant, clear, and darker than autumn. Books that fall in this season are: The Singing Tree, Black Beauty, A Little Princess, The Bronze Bow, The Scarlet Letter, and Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Bridge, North and South and Tree of Freedom.
Let's clarify things a little, first. Just because a book is listed under the summer or spring season does not mean that it is free from sadness, darker spots, mystery, or intrigue. The same goes for Autumns and Winters. They will not be completely melancholy or sad, and there will still possibly be hilarious parts, happy parts, cheerful parts etc. The season is just to indicate the overall tone of the book.
For example: Old Fashioned Girl, (a story about a young, unspoiled woman struggling to make her way in the world without compromising her standards and good character), does have sad parts, and even some darker scenes. There's nostalgia, and a lot of bittersweet parts throughout the book. However, despite those qualities, I still feel it fits the "spring" category because of the many new beginnings, the light + fresh feel throughout it, the tender tone in which it is written, and the overall inspiring message throughout it.
On the other side, let's look at the The Singing Tree. It is a story of a Hungarian family during the first World War, and there is definitely youth, constant hope, and even funny moments in it. Those spring/summer traits however are countered by a strain of silence, a feel of darkness and coldness, loneliness, and the weight of a lot of responsibility--all wrapped up in a very clear, quiet kind of courage. This, then, ends up placing it in Winter.
Some are quite obvious which they belong in. Of course Anne of Green Gables would never fit in Winter, and Friedrich would be very difficult to try to put into the Summer category. Others are more complex, and you have to focus not so much on the details but on the over all tone/mood/feeling it gives you when reading it or thinking about it. Johnny Tremain is a young boy, but his story is more coming-of-age, bittersweet and poignant compared to say Pollyanna. A Little Princess finds the main character Sara always full of hope and very fresh and inspiring in her character--but the elegance, stillness, coldness and loneliness outweighs that.
How does knowing your book's season help you? For the primary purpose that it helps keep the tone consistent. If I know what sort of season the novel is going to be in when I plan it, it'll be that much more probable that I'll stay in that season while writing it and not make the book wonky and disruptive with different tones.
Here's some examples of how I do it with my own books/writing!
Jonas and Olivia is a spring. While there are darker moments in it, the farther you get into the book the more hope there is, and there are so many fresh beginnings in the book.
Two-Faced Man my NaNoWriMo novel of 2015, is an Autumn. It centers around the difficulties of being an American Japanese in WWII, and how my main character Leo must adapt and grow to the changes forced on him, all while becoming a better man himself. While there's a lot of funny parts in the book and the contrast of tragedy, the overall tone is definitely a bittersweet, coming-of-age feel.
The Needlemaker is a Victorian/Industrial Revolution mystery with lots of twisty plots and secrets. This book falls under the Winter category, because it is a blend of elegance and coldness, and the courage displayed in it is subtle, but strong.
Further Courage is also a Winter. This Revolutionary War novel is filled with a deceptive quiet even though the War is smothering them more and more. It is a little bit darker over all, though truth and bravery shines through it all.
Beatrix (Title not decided) is actually a start of a Autumn-toned series. It follows the life of a girl in Edwardian South Carolina, eventually covering WWI. It's got a lot of sadness in it, and definitely a nostalgic feel. It's a bit darker in tone but still comedic.
Kind Heart is a novel set in modern times featuring an eclectic evangelist family whose daughter happens to be adopted. It is a sun-soaked, free spirited book as the main character struggles with finding and following the Lord's will for her life as she grows older and suddenly has to deal with new relationships with her birth family. And so it's definitely in the Summer category.
Those are just a few I pulled out to share with you all. Some people tend to write across all four seasons, some like to stick to one or two. Whatever works for you is what you should do! But I hope you'll give the "book Season" label a try. Why don't you take a minute to figure out what your WIP fits in? You might already be able to guess it, or you might be surprised! Either way it'd be a good thing to try out to check and see if your tone is consistent.
I'd love to know what season your WIP is so please leave me a comment! :) Also, what season do you tend to enjoy reading? What about writing? I honestly love all of them for both reading and writing, lol.
Make sure you leave me a comment letting me know your thoughts! :)
Y'all have a lovely day!