By Betty Thomason Owens
Welcome to March! I love March, possibly because it’s my birth month, but also because—in my neck of the woods—Spring is on the way. Though often blustery, March’s sun-filled days mean I can venture out into my flower beds and see what’s popping up through the soil. So you can probably guess my favorite season.
Here at Writing Prompts, throughout March, we’re going to be talking about our favorite season. We’ll discuss why we love that particular time of year, and maybe even get into the science of seasons. Why are there seasons? And of course, some of us will explore them from the writer’s point of view. When you’re reading a book, what season is it? Can you tell from the narrative? If so, the author has done his job well. So how do you show the reader what season it is, without telling? Yes, “show not tell” works with seasons, as well. I’ll give you a little workshop below, so be sure you read all the way to the end. Remember, if you participate in our writing prompts provided on Monday and Friday posts, your name will be entered in a giveaway during our “blog-a-versary” celebration in June. You could win a $100 gift card!
I apologize for the number of times I repeated the word, “seasons,” in the former paragraph. I did replace it a couple of times. But on to the reason I love Spring…not just because of the flowers, though I love flowers. Anyone who reads my personal blog at Betty Thomason Owens knows I love flowers. Ah, the warming soil, the soft, spring rains, the newly green grass. (Please note that as I am writing this, the unusually warm winter has left us with green grass, though it is January). And I love the Easter celebration. All things new! The pea-green leaves unfurling on the maple trees, the bright pink of dogwood blooms, azalea bushes, and creeping phlox. Can you sense the love here? But also, “see” the season—this is one way to show it in your writing.
Recently, I was watching a show on television and the lead character mentioned it was October. But when she went outside, there was definitely a white dogwood blooming, and it was not a Japanese dogwood that blooms all summer. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it, but they actually featured the tree in the opening scene. So right away, I was expecting Spring. See how important it is to your reader?
Beyond the scenery, though, how would you show spring in your writing? What other clues lie in nature? And, don’t forget—it all depends on the “where.” Keep your setting in mind when you drop hints about the season. If you’re on the West Coast,the seasons aren’t so dramatic as they are on the East Coast, or even in the middle. If you’re in the far north, spring drags its feet. You can’t bring in green grass and flowers until later in the year. So, setting and season must agree.
Back to my former question, let’s look at how you show spring other than through scenery and flora. Consider fauna. New lambs, calves, and foals. Or birdsong—which birds signal Spring in your area of the country? Here’s an interesting post from Bird Watcher’s Digest.
Robins arrive, juncos leave, duck and geese are in flight. Peepers peep (you know those little amphibians that live in the trees). That’s another odd thing I heard in a movie once. There were definitely frogs croaking, but there was snow on the ground. I was so confused!
Children are outside playing—okay, maybe only in a historical setting—but I still hear children’s voices in my neighborhood. And my favorite harbinger of Spring from my childhood, the smell of freshly-turned soil.
Armed with these hints, you should be able to complete the writing prompt below. I’m issuing a challenge to you and offering an additional incentive to write your best prose. If you haven’t read my novel, Annabelle’s Ruth, I’ll send one copy to a reader who finishes this prompt (submit via comments). If I have multiple entries, I’ll let the other crewmembers vote on the best one. So not only will you win my book, you’ll also win a little competition for the best-written prompt. How great is that? And all prompt writers will be entered for the blog-a-versary prize in July.
Okay, that’s my challenge, now here’s the prompt:
Dahlia stepped out onto the back deck of her country house. What was that noise?
Remember: have a setting in mind—set the season through sensory elements. You can use some of my suggestions above. Continue my prompt to tell or start a story of your own. Keep it short (up to 100 words), but give us a sense of setting and season. Post your finished prompt in the comments.