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 contributes to the rewarding outcome of having all the ideas and details hammered into place.

For example, the starting point for Trapped in Epitome was my curiosity about the lobstering industry. Seizing an opportunity to travel along the coast of Maine, I gathered details that shaped the story to make it resonate not only for the reader, but myself (i.e. sea glass). Once I discovered those grounding ideas, I let my protagonist, Claire, lead me to where I needed to go, or what I needed 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 sensed how scary a killer on the loose would be, even in such beautiful settings. I even asked a lobsterman if the boat’s hauler could support the weight of a dead body. (Oh, the look on his face!) These instances became my treasures, intertwined with the story and characters I created. My mind whirled with imagination and discovery. During my last night in Maine 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.