My writing friends take me to their worlds. We might spend time with a bounty hunter in Las Vegas or look over the shoulder of a small town Kansas cop. We are in the future – a bleak one – in the Pacific Northwest. We relive the turbulent ’60s in the South. Or we are in Czarist Russia experiencing life through the eyes of a teenage girl. We are in medieval England.
As my friend and fellow writer Catherine Hedge says, we come together to be surrounded by dreamers who are passionate about writing and to get support for our creative energies. This writers life? “Some call that madness. Writers call it fun.”–CH
Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.
Most of us are still struggling to get through cold, snow, and flooding rains washing away roads (a nod to my friend Jaime in Kentucky – stay safe). So let’s walk through the flowers in this garden near Palm Springs, California, and dream of spring and warmer weather.
BLOG HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE WEEK
This will be a quickie post as I am still buried in the hell of Word .docs and CreateSpace formatting.
Song lyrics. Wow. I admire individuals who can capture an image or a moment in time in the lyrics of a song. We novel writers are warned to watch verbosity, watch the flowery prose and, as my writers group reminds me at least a few times a year, watch the cliches. Can we say it simpler?
A smile washed across Nick’s face.
Getting too verbose in a dramatic scene can take the reader out of the scene. (Thanks, Raji, for that advice.) Powerful images are needed to drive those moments forward.
Tell him that the sun and moon rise in his eyes.
“Tell Him,” Celine Dion.
How can I just let you walk away, just let you leave without a trace.
“Against All Odds,” Phil Collins.
When you find you, come back to me.
“Come Back to Me,” David Cook.
I’m often inspired by song lyrics like these. I’ve pulled off the road to make note of a song title so I can go back and listen to the words again.
What about you? Have you ever written a scene or a whole book based on an image conjured up by a song?
All right. How did Thursday slip up on me so quickly? Do you have weeks where you think Monday came too early and stayed too long? Then all of a sudden, it’s almost Friday! That seems to happen to me all the time.
So where shall we walk this week? Hm… how about Edinburgh? It’s one of my favorite cities.
Have a latte or a cup of cream tea and sit back. Take a look out the window at a sight that had to have inspired JK Rowling as she plotted out her tales of Harry Potter. I worked on Keeping the Family Peace whilst sitting here in 2010. When you aren’t staring outside, take a look at these great blog posts I stumbled across this last week:
Do semi-colons make you shudder? Ask an Editor with Theresa Stevens – Overcome Your Fear of the Semi-Colon http://ow.ly/ddH5m
How about a whimsical short story to bring a smile to your face? Is Raji Singh pulling our legs? Charles Darwin’s Victorian Romance http://bit.ly/NGpW0s
ProfHacker mentioned a similar strategy, using this as an exercise to get your own creative juices going when you are struggling to write.
So, here goes… (2 sentences even!)
“The postulant was given a ceremonial bath, after which he spent the night in the chapel, watching beside his armor. Then he was clad in rich robes, the gift of the man who was to knight him, and the sword of knighthood was girded about his waist.”
—John, King of England, by John T. Appleby
This is from a biographical work about King John of Magna Carta fame. Don’t those lines conjure up vivid images? A darkened room, lit by candlelight. The Church’s role in life in the Middle Ages. Camelot. Castles. Knights and ladies. The pageantry of life at court. Though based on my research of this time period for some historical fiction I hope to publish next year, it certainly doesn’t sound very glamorous. My knights are Crusaders who serve Richard the Lionheart. Their story will be about the scars they carry. Of the heat, the stink of death, and pitched battles. (What pleasant thoughts, eh?)
So, pick up the book you’re reading, choose a random page, and add a line or two from the page in the comments here. What other images do you think of when you read those lines?
Palm trees. Oaks dripping with Spanish moss. The Lady & Sons. Fried green tomatoes. Shelley’s cooking. Southern hospitality.
I just returned from a short vacation in Savannah, Georgia. I would love to have stayed there to soak in the atmosphere. Be inspired by the look and feel of the place. It’s a perfect place for mysteries or the paranormal. Of course, those are two genres I don’t write. But history. There’s so much history there! Hm…will have to think about that for a future historical fiction adventure.
The settings for my Star Wars stories were inspired by the California coastline between Big Sur and Monterey. Cliffs that dropped precipitously to the sea. Waves crashing against rocks. It’s similar to the coast of Cornwall in southwest England, which I didn’t realize when I wrote those stories. It is a place I’d only read about but never seen until 2008. Now it’s one of my favorite places on Earth. St. Ives, the picture on my blog header, would work well as the location for Ariana on Garos IV, though it would look quite different. Ariana isn’t a small seaside community. No cozy fishermen’s cottages. It’s large, and dotted with government buildings. I can picture Imperial Headquarters on the hilltop overlooking the ocean and the city. It sure would be cool to see X-wings flying over St. Ives to land at the spaceport.
Readers – do you find inspiration in the places you live or visit? Writers out there – do real places inspire the settings of your stories?