February, the shortest month of the year! The coldest two weeks of the year in my area; I’m sure some of our southern-hemi friends find it the most miserable hot days of the year. So short, yet so packed with inspiration for writing!
First up, Groundhog Day in the US. It’s come and gone, but if the groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, it’s supposed to get scared, run back to its hole, and there will be six more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, though, the groundhog will play around, and there will be an early spring.
This reminds us that it’s fun to play with opposites in a story. Does our heroine have a terrible, awful life, and then get hit by a car, only to wake up as Queen of the Vampires (MaryJanice Davidson, Undead and Unwed)? Or does she have a happy, sunny life, suddenly get pelted with unsuitable suitors who make her life miserable, but after six weeks of BS (OK, six months or so), discover that one of the suitors loves her deeply and would rescue her wayward sister for her . . . and she loves him (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)?
Also on Feb. 2 this year (but usually on Feb. 3) is Setsubun – the half-way mark between winter and spring. This is a day of balance, of being on the edge. Japanese people with kids will usually put an adult in a mask to represent the demons (oni) and the kids will throw beans or peanuts at them, yelling, “Luck in! Demons out!”
There’s a lot to work with in that holiday! It’s a good time to check your second draft to see if it has too much light or too much dark, and slip in some balancing scenes. In a first draft, it’s a great time to have a character throw something, banish something, or invite something in.
Feb. 12 is Darwin Day – work on those character arcs. Have your people evolve, and make sure nobody is winning a Darwin award.
Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day. Allow yourself to be wildly romantic! Or completely vinegary!
And Feb. 15 is “Galentine’s Day” – invented by Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knopes to celebrate female friendship. Does your story pass the Bechdel test? Do you want it to?
Feb. 21 is Nina Simone’s birthday. She brought power to her songs with pitch and timber. Can you write something dramatic, elegant and powerful this month? This is “Mississippi Goddam”.
Elizabeth Taylor was born on Feb. 27. For a whole generation, she encapsulated smoldering romance and beauty. Have you seen any Elizabeth Taylor movies? It might be a good day to watch one, and see what inspiration pops up.
Enjoy your February! It’s short, but it packs a wallop!