If you are a writer trying to write a Christmas story, one challenge you might be faced with is, how do you make your story fresh? Many Christmas stories revolve around similar themes. Some of them include:
• “Two hours to the big kiss” – If you have not read stories like this, you most likely have seen T.V. movies like them. A man and woman are thrown together over Christmas, they have their differences, but by the end of the story they fall in love, which culminates in … the big kiss.
• Redemption and discovering the true meaning of Christmas – The most obvious example of this is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but this is a theme you can see in a number of other stories.
• Santa and Santa magic – These are the stories with elves, reindeer, and the North Pole. These stories have magic in them where Santa makes the impossible, possible.
• Religion – You might feel that not enough Christmas stories actually contain religion. There are number that do though. These stories focus on the Christmas story, prayer, miracles, and redemption.
• Family drama – These are stories that focus on family dysfunction that is amplified during the holidays. Some of these stories can be very serious, whereas others might be on the lighter side.
There are other themes as well, but they can all sometimes feel like they are packaged in boxes. They can feel a bit predictable, overdone, and formulaic. After you’ve read a dozen stories, they can all start to feel the same. It can seem like there are only seven presents under the tree, and you have already given them more than once. How do you come up with a new gift for your readers? Here are some suggestions:
1. First have an interesting story.
This is really important. Before you focus on making your story fresh and new, make it interesting. Make sure the characters are engaging, the plot is surprising, and the story flows. No matter what kind of story you write, you should focus on this. It is a critical part in making any story good, and something you need before you can make it fresh. Also, having an interesting story, will help whatever you write about feel more engaging for your readers.
2. Use the mold, but break the mold.
Think of the “two hours to the big kiss” stories. How do you make these new? One idea might be to keep the general idea, but do something different with it. As an example, in these stories, the male and female leads are usually shown at the start and it can seem really obvious he, will end up with her. You can change that around though. Maybe the initially introduced male and female characters don’t get together. Maybe she falls in love with his brother. Maybe he falls in love with the girl he’s always known but hasn’t noticed.
In another twist, you can make the couple obvious but the situation different. Maybe instead of meeting for the first time, they could be an estranged husband and wife. Instead of falling in love for the first time, they could fall in love again.
This same idea applies to other themes. Maybe a redemption story is told not from the perspective of the one being redeemed, but from the perspective of the person they are redeemed in association with. In other words, what if A Christmas Carol was told from Cratchit’s perspective instead of Scrooge’s? It might make for a very different story.
3. Mix it with a different genre
One way to make your Christmas story unique is to mix it with an uncommon genre. Ever read a science fiction Christmas story? How about a steampunk one? If not, something like that might be just the thing to make your Christmas story standout and not seem like the rest. There are a number of genres you could explore. You could keep the common themes mentioned above or do something different.
4. Add unique elements
Imagine a Christmas story with bodybuilders. Or one with race cars. Or maybe one with astronauts. Or one in Madrid. These kinds of unique elements can help a Christmas story feel fresh, even if it is otherwise a standard type of story. A story of redemption takes on a new element if the redeemed person is on a space station or speeding down a race track.
5. Explore different traditions
Different cultures celebrate Christmas differently. Many of the Christmas stories you come across though don’t really explore this. They might tend to focus on what might be thought of as a standard American Christmas.
This of course is not bad, but if you want your story to be fresh, you might consider framing your story around a different tradition. Maybe, for example, you could explore the Russian Orthodox practice of celebrating Christmas. Depending on the calendar they use, there are some in the faith who won’t celebrate Christmas until January 7. You could look at this and other elements such as music and food and include those in your story. You could tell a traditional Christmas story but in a way that might seem completely new to your readers.
There are a lot of ways to make a Christmas story fresh. These are just some ideas. Remember though, don’t make your stories too different. When readers read a Christmas story, they are expecting something. They are expecting tradition. Sure, tradition can livened up a bit, but it still needs to be tradition. Maybe you serve pheasant for Christmas instead of turkey, but you probably shouldn’t serve squid.
M. Sakran is that guy who walks those dogs. He is usually found standing by the side of the road while one of his dogs plays in a ditch and the other wonders why he isn't getting a treat right now. When not catering to canines, he tries to be a writer. He's had over ninety items published, including a collection of poetry called First Try, and has also self-published an eBook called Understanding: poems with explanations. You can find his poetry related blog at msakran.wordpress.com and his website at msakran.com.
M. Sakran is that guy who