Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holidays. Plot Device or Prop?

by Allison Pang

For the record, I'm really of two minds about stories using the holidays as plot devices. Actually, I'm not even sure if this actually applies to just holidays or not, but here goes.

If whatever it is - holiday, character type, sex scene, violence...whatever...if it adds to the story, great. If it's just there as a placeholder...then, not so much.

I'm not sure I even explained that right -but let's take that lovely picture up there and see if I can make it more clear. If the story requires, say, Christmas, as a relevant part of the plot, go for it. If it's just there so you can have hotties blowing candy Get my point? (You could replace that candy cane with something else, and it's probably not going to have any impact whatsover on what's going to happen next, I'm guessing.)

So I guess that's what I mean. If you can tell the same story in a different setting, then the holiday doesn't really mean much.  (Sorta like those Santa Buddy movies I was ranting about on KAK's post the other day. My kids love those movies. I want to pour salt in my eyes every time a puppy starts talking about its bling. The holiday themes here are just excuses to make a buck on using pretty much the same exact plot - just with different bad guys or whatever. That drives me a little crazy. Although you'd think in that case, I'd hate classics like the Charlie Brown specials too, but maybe it's all about presentation. That can go a long way, I suspect. There's really no comparison between dogs that say "Dawg" and watching the Peanuts gang dance.)

To be honest, I don't usually ever pick up theme books (I guess you see those mostly  in contemporary romance though, I think - and I don't read contemporary at all, so I'm not particularly interested in book about secret santa babies and the like.)

Actually - I *do* pick up anthologies, so that's not entirely true. Sometimes it's nice to know what you're getting and to see your favorite authors put an interesting spin on an old trope. (I have to admit to being a tad disappointed in the last few I bought - you'd think that Halloween and vampires would make for some great stories. A few were...but a few were definitely nothing more than plot devices to push some well loved characters through the motions, so there you go...and here's a shameless plug for my own anthology - Carniepunk will be available July 30th, 2013. Hypocrite? Yeah, maybe. *shifty eyes*)


  1. *shrug* I think you could say the same thing about... anything. Supernatural creatures are not necessary to tell a hero's journey tale. Vampires are not necessary to tell a romance (:P) The holidays are not necessary to tell pretty much any story that isn't specifically *about* the holidays. (So the holidays aren't necessary to a romance or a steampunk or a fantasy or...)

    Do I think the Santa Buddies movies have the staying power of Charlie Brown? Hell no. Do I think kids still love those damn dogs *right now*? Yes. Mini-me begs for those movies every year, and The Boy did it before her. Their kids won't because it'll be something else by then.

    I'd say the same is true of books that include the holidays. The ones with staying power are the ones that are more *about* the holidays than those that just take place during the holiday season. But that doesn't mean they won't find an audience now or that said audience won't love them.

  2. Okay, I just watched that clip...


    Off to pour salt in MY eyes!

    1. Silly woman, never watch the buddies. Haven't you been warned before?

    2. snort - NOW I know! but I can't unsee it...

  3. You're in the Carniepunk antho??? Cool!!! I didn't know that.