Writing Fiction

"Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar" - E.B. White

For me, a great side benefit of writing is learning about new things and traveling to places I’ve never been. As I’ve mentioned in my blog, research is crucial to a great story. But it also plays a role with hammering the ideas and details into place.

For example, the starting point for Trapped in Epitome was my curiosity about the lobstering industry. Traveling up the coast of Maine, I gathered “nuggets” that would shape the story for myself and the reader (i.e. sea glass). Imagination lit by those ideas, I let my protagonist, Claire, lead me where I needed to go or had to learn. The struggle of “finding oneself” came to light for several characters. The hard work and often dangerous nature of lobstering was as palpable on the air as the salt. I felt how scary a killer on the loose would be in such beautiful settings. I even asked a lobsterman if the boat’s hauler could support the weight of a dead body. (Oh, his face!) These instances became my treasures, intertwined with the story and characters. My mind whirled with imagination and discovery. During my last night in Bar Harbor a fog rolled up the street toward the bed and breakfast. At once, I pictured the story’s climax. I rushed home, ready to write.

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

– Ernest Hemingway

Why is traveling to a setting location so important for my research? Aside from the obvious—you have to know what you’re talking about—it:

  • Helps me understand the characters' motivations and goals better, fixes any misconceptions about the setting, and assists with plot decisions.
  • Adds resonance to the story and provides fantastic nuggets of ideas and information I can't learn from books or cruising the internet.
  • Allows me to talk with locals - they know everything - who are more likely to share their knowledge face-to-face and provide insights I never would have thought to ask about.