Some of my favorite experiences in nature occurred on clear nights with a full moon. If you haven’t been out on a night like that, with no artificial light nearby, I highly recommend finding an opportunity to do so. Artificial lights dampen or kill the wonders of a full moonlight and your ability to use nights of the full moon as writing inspiration.
Since we live in the county, I’ve had chances to venture out in these nights bathed in moonlight. What catches my attention first are the shadows. The moonlight is so strong it casts shadows. The second thing I notice is how far I can see. On typical nights, the woods that line the edge of our property are just a wall of darkness. Under the full moon, I can pick out details. And then I become fascinated with the color. Silver is the best way to describe it. It illuminates but very differently from sunlight, so I can see but not quite.
“Not quite” sums up a full moon night. I can see better than a normal night, but not quite like in the daytime. My yard is recognizably familiar but not quite the same in the silver light.
I had the wonderful blessing to see the ocean under a full moon. As well as casting our shadows across the sand, the moonlight transformed the waves into rippling sheets of metal. They appeared solid as the hit the shore. That experience was so intense that God used it to lift me from a four-month depression.
So what stories are appropriate for this “not quite” setting? The strangeness of it should be a backdrop for a wonderfully positive scene or a horribly negative one. It can’t be the setting for run-of-the-mill action.
The climax of my Christmas mystery, “A Rose from the Ashes”, is set on Christmas Eve under an almost full moon. I had to use an almost full moon because the last recent occurrence of a full moon on Christmas Eve didn’t line up with the timeline of my series–I’m fussy about my timelines. But I wanted to use the magic of moonlight to set the scene and hint that something extraordinary was about to happen to the main character.
As much as I enjoy moonlight, I can see how it can be unsettling and even sinister to people because of it’s ability to be a weird imitation of day. One of my favorite picture books, The Magic Wood, begins with an illustration of a boy sitting under a full moon. He heads into the dark woods and mets a creature who at first is disturbing and then turns dreadful. For a positive approach, read Chapter 22 “The Story of the Trial of El-ahrairah” from Watership Down by Richard Adams.
How would you use or where have you read about using nights of the full moon was writing inspiration?