Like a cornucopia, Thanksgiving as writing inspiration overflows with ideas. It gives writers the perfect excuse to throw all kinds of disparate characters together. The fact that many people travel great distances also provides tons of opportunities for writers to make believable plot difficulties for their characters. Below are some ideas to help you take advantage of the holiday abundance.
Where I live in the midwest, we don’t usually have to deal with snow at Thanksgiving. But it can affect people coming to visit us. And I still recall the second Thanksgiving of my married life when a freak snowstorm changed a routine drive to my in-laws into an epic adventure. Our nerves frayed a little more with each mile we crawled along the highway.
You can have the family who is hosting the dinner go to the rescue of stranded relatives. Or your main character is stranded on the way to dinner and comes up with a substitute with the people she’s stranded with. Or, if you borrow from my experience, a newly married couple can learn some new things about each other as they battle the elements on the way to dinner.
All the consequences of unexpected weather leads naturally too …
Unexpected or New Guests
Since I’m a character writer, this is the kind of inspiration where I can have fun. If you strand your main character, you can introduce any kind of stranger and see how the characters clash. A new bride gets to spend much too much time with her in-laws. A blended family hosts their first Thanksgiving for both side of the family. A relative who hasn’t had contact with the rest of the family for years shows up. A newly engaged couple decide to host Thanksgiving so their families can get to know each other.
Kitchen disasters or battles
All of us have had something go wrong in the kitchen at Thanksgiving. My most memorable disaster was when my family was about to sit down to eat, and the turkey was still raw. Disasters can lead to revelations about your characters. Just as kitchen battles can. I’m not sure why people get so insistent about the Thanksgiving menu containing their favorite foods, but it happens. My husband can’t understand why my family likes such bland stuffing. Relatives quarreling over what to cook has a lot of comic potential.
Comedy or Drama?
Most of the ideas above can be used either for a funny or serious story. It all depends on the tone you want to set. Or you may want to include scenes of various tones. For example, two estranged sisters patch up their differences while trying to overt a kitchen disaster.
I’ve only touched on the possibilities of Thanksgiving as writing inspiration. I’d love to hear from you! How does it spark your creativity?
I liked your post. Reminded me of some family stories of my own. One Thanksgiving my mom forgot to take the turkey out of the freezer until the night before. She just started screaming and threw the bird in the kitchen sink and started running water over it and I believe she was crying too….good times!!!
Sounds like traumatic times!