|Not the cover you'd picture for "It was a dark and stormy night"....|
"It was a dark and stormy night..." This is perhaps the most clichéd beginning of a story. It does serve a purpose though. No one expects a story about a dog falling in love with a kitten that begins with a dark and stormy night. Instead, the audience is clued in; this is a story about suspense or a mystery. Chances are, something sinister is lurking as well.
On Wednesday, I talked about Daisy Miller and the seasons. Today, I'd like to explore seasons more and talk about the clues that are presented to the reader through setting. This is useful to consider both as an author and a reader.
Seasons signal themes or events in books. In addition, there is more than one way to think about each season.
Winter may be thought of as a time of decay and stillness. Or, it may evoke fresh possibilities and the blank slate of snow. Snow might also signify innocence, particularly if it is used as a backdrop for blood.
Spring may signal a time of thaw, where tensions begin to ease. Or, it may be seen as a time of new birth- not only physical, but also in terms of ideas or feelings within the character.
Summer is often viewed as a time of full bloom and potential reached. On the other hand, it might signal that the character is sweltering or "feeling the heat" of a situation.
Perhaps no season encapsulates change as vibrantly as autumn. An explosion of color rips through the world. Spring too is a time of transition, but it is accompanied by the muted pastels and not the vibrancy of yellows, oranges and reds. Autumn then may signify the largest change of growth or a turn of heart.
The next time you pick up a book, consider if it occurs in more than one season. Do the seasons symbolize anything? What season does that book begin in and what does that tell about the state-of-mind and state-of-affairs of the characters?
Do any examples spring to mind? Please comment below with your ideas or reflections. It'd be great to hear from you!
My best to you all,