When re-drafting or planning scenes I run through a list of words: time (year, month, day, time of day), place, temperature, lighting, season, senses, conflict, what happens?, goal for next scene etc. This helps bring a scene to life.
If a scene isn't working, I ask myself whether it can be cut. If the scene is essential to the plot, I find changing the location or season can make a difference. Christmas is a useful time of year to use.
The run-up to Christmas can be hectic, but once Christmas Eve arrives and the presents are wrapped, I relax. A break from the daily routine is a treat and I enjoy drinking and eating my way through the festive period with family.
What a character does at Christmas says a lot about them and their relationships with others in the book. In Act 3 of my novel, 'The Grandson', the main character, Jessica spends Christmas with her family. She changed her mind about spending it with her fiancé, Sebastian's family at the last minute. This shows that she's having second thoughts about their upcoming wedding. She talks to her mother, Mary in the kitchen on Christmas Eve whilst her mother prepares the turkey. The father is noticeably absent because he's working on the farm. He doesn't need to but he avoids Mary as much as he can. Jessica's parents are stuck in a loveless marriage and Jessica points this out to her mother. Mary goes quiet and they have an awkward moment. Then she suggests they leave the kitchen to sit in front of the log fire with a sherry.
Christmas is a time when we make the effort to see the people we care about. Having a Christmas scene in a novel gives a writer the opportunity to show what a character's relationships with others are like. Helen Fielding uses Christmas in Bridget Jones's Diary with success. It's easy to see what Bridget's relationship with her parents is like. Her mother's pushiness is demonstrated when she tries to set Bridget up with Mark Darcy at Christmas drinks. When Darcy wears a ridiculous Christmas jumper given to him by his mother, it's clear that his mother has an influence on him.
Have you used Christmas scenes as an opportunity to show a character's relationship with their family or friends? Or do you have any other comments?