In the United States, no one can escape the influence of Halloween in the month of October. And Halloween does offer many sparks for the writer’s imagination. But along with the holiday, I will mention other ways to use October as writing inspiration. Some of these I mentioned in last year’s post on October.
Harvest time: I live in a rural area, and the harvest of corn and soybeans is in full swing. If I wanted a story to follow the cycle of farming, I could start it in the spring with planting and end it with harvesting. The characters’ story arc could mimic the growing season.
- In spring, a character makes some positive change in her life or something positive happens to her, something new. This positive change develops over the summer, and in the fall, the character reaps the benefits of it.
- Or reverse the growing season. A character experiences some kind of loss in the fall as nature loses its leaves and plants stop growing. The characters suffers hardship through the winter because of this loss, but in the spring, discovers some kind of renewal or hope.
Halloween Mystery: I don’t like the horror aspects of Halloween. But the sense of spooky happenings lends itself to mysteries. Here are a few ideas:
- A friend of mine has college-age son who worked security for a haunted house venue. In a mystery, the house a business man took over for his haunted house has been long abandoned. Someone keeps breaking in and ransacking it as he tries to prepare it for customers. Once the haunted house opens, more trouble occurs. The security guards become curious, and on Halloween night, with the haunted house doing big business, they discover the reason for the attacks and who’s behind it.
- My husband was eating lunch at a convention center that was hosting a conference of “haunters”: people who make a living off Halloween. That gave me the idea of a mystery at such a conference. Many small-time haunted house operators are worried about a new entrepreneur, who’s large-scale haunted house productions are threatening their livelihood. When the entrepreneur turns up dead at the conference, maybe in a display of the latest ghoulish special effects, the police have no shortage of suspects.
- The small town where my kids go to elementary school does trick-or-treating up big with the fire department serving hot dogs and holding a costume contest, and several homes throwing together their own, free haunted houses. One year, someone drove around town in a replica of the Ghostbusters’ car. The small-town setting is perfect for a middle grade mystery where several kids in town have noticed something strange going on — perhaps someone mysterious has moved into an old house or the local cemetery keeps getting vandalized. On Halloween night, the kids put all their clues together and solve the mystery.
How would you use October as writing inspiration?