Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sticky days of summer

July and August. The hot sticky days of summer. There’s something magical about them. Lazily dipping your fingers along the water's surface, running on the hot sand after an errant ball, exploring some new or ancient city on foreign soil. There’s nothing like hot summer days.

As a northeasterner, I believe I appreciate summer in the unique way only a northeasterner can. Basking in the summer sun after a long long winter and too short spring, then cursing the heat as we reach the depth of the summer months and spouting the old saying, “you can fry an egg on that sidewalk.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that!

What I truly love about summer is the romance. Sure, it's hard to best Paris in the springtime, but try New York at 102 degrees when your AC is kaput...never is a soft kiss and a cool breeze so welcomed.

Story settings are often dictated by the kind of mood the author wishes to set. A big city like New York sets a fast paced, gritty tone, while a small town setting like Madison County has that laid back, simple life tone. The time of year you set a story in can also be a character: like say summer.

I'm a big movie buff, so let me pose the question: would the movie Body Heat have been as effective if it was set in the depth of winter or even during the cool, oft times chilly breezes of spring or fall? Of course not. The summer heat was just as pivotal a character as Kathleen Turner. The heat was part of the mix that drove the characters mad with lust.

Oftentimes writers use the heat of summer as an irritant to their characters or a catalyst to emotion. Think Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. The sweltering heat in that movie affected each character in a different way. Maggie is horny, Big Daddy’s health is affected, Brick was irritated, then that escalated to anger. The title itself is a symbolism for summer; how the cat is scorched with the intense heat. The characters are scorched as well, fighting the heat of the summer as well as the conflicting personalities of the family.

Weaving that environmental aspect through a story and around your characters, and retaining its effect throughout, can make for a rich, erotic, and realistic tale.

1 comment:

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Isabel, great blog and blogspot. I live near the beach where a hot day is 75 degrees...I am not a heat person. But I agree, those two movies wouldn't have worked in winter. Yet...I think Dr. Zhivago is amazingly sexy when they're snowbound.

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