Writing Tip — Thanksgiving as Writing Inspiration

dinnewr-2330482_1280Like 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.

Bad weather

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?



Monday Sparks — What’s Your Favorite Meal?

pork-ribsw-561012_1280This month’s theme is food and family, due to Thanksgiving being celebrated on November 22. So what’s your favorite meal? For me, my favorite has always combined good food with good company.

I host a family Halloween party every year. My husband does all the cooking. The center of the meal is his ribs. He does them two ways — dry rub and with a sauce. Both are delectable. Sharing his delicious food with my family as we enjoy conversation makes many wonderful memories.

What’s your favorite meal?

Writing Tip — Writing in Time: November as Writing Inspiration

fogw-66263_1280In the United States, Thanksgiving dominates November. Most people spend the month thinking about what to cook, who to visit, and when they can get off work or school. But November as writing inspiration isn’t confined to the monster holiday. Because Thanksgiving provides so much inspiration, I will deal with it in a separate post. Below are other events in November that can kindle your inspiration.


National Novel Writing Month. This nonprofit group encourages writers to finish a 50,000 word novel in a month. Personally, November is a terrible time to get a lot of writing accomplished because of Thanksgiving. Why didn’t they pick March? March bores me into depression. Maybe I’ll have to have my own private NaNoWriMo then. But a humorous story about a writer trying desperately to finish her novel while planning an enormous Thanksgiving dinner for her extended family has wonderful possibilities.

Hunting Season 

Hunting season is in full swing in my state and surrounding ones. With November’s short hours of daylight and wild weather, it offers a lot of potential for a story pitting a lost or injured hunter against the elements. That’s why I picked November as the setting for my short story, “Debt to Pay”. I wanted the weather to be unfavorable but not as deadly as in January or February. Or you can use the weather and hunting as a back drop for a humorous story, like the ones Patrick F. McManus’s wrote.

Election Day

The first Tuesday in November is always Election Day in America, and this year, being an even numbered one, we are voting in national elections as well as state and local. If you are writing a political thriller or mystery, this day works well as the setting for the climax.

Veteran’s Day

The middle school where I live hosts a program for veterans to come talk to the kids. There’s so much plot and character development in a story where a kid and a veteran, especially an elderly one, learn from each other.

 Black Friday

I have never ventured out into the pandemonium of the first official shopping day of the Christmas season. My husband did once to secure a Lego set for my sister, and I’ve always thought highly of him for braving the chaos. The reason for the day and the unusual behavior it inspires — people congregating around ads the day before as they plan their attack, camping on the sidewalk to be the first inside a store, trudging for miles in a mall as they hunt an elusive item — makes it perfect for a comic story.

How would you use November as writing inspiration?

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