STRUGGLING TO GET IT WRITE: THE KEEN OBSERVER

July 14, 2014 at 7:09 pm 2 comments

This piece revolves around my never-ending argument: Can you be taught to imagine? Is it something you just ‘have’, or is it something you can develop? Can you be taught to initiate that spark the gives birth to a story and leads you down that road of wonder? I have no formal training, and I’m sure it shows, in writing fiction, but my mind is crowded with ideas. Can this mental process be taught?

Now, those of you still with me are probably asking, “What the hell does this have to do with the title of the article?” Glad you asked, otherwise, I would have to stop writing this piece.

In order to give a story body, to provide a world to the reader, you need detail. The reader must be immersed in the world you create. See, hear and smell the story. The writer must spend his life being a ‘keen observer’, constantly aware of the world around and absorb, digest it and then someday deposit those observations within his work. I suppose the only genre where this does not apply is the genre I propose to write – science fiction. Here you sometimes need to create a world of the future, one that finds birth in your imagination and exists only there.

I recently finished reading Light of the World by one of my favorite authors, James Lee Burke. Coincidentally, the July/August issue of Poets & Writers had an interesting piece about Burke. If you love his writing as much as I do, I strongly suggest you read this fine article to gain insight into the man.

The setting for Light of the World is Missoula, Montana which also happens to be where Burke now calls home. The novel drips with detail of the geography, plant life and weather of the Montana. We are all familiar with the old adage: Write what you know. I’m going to make an addition: Write where you’ve been. I know this is not always possible, but I feel it helps to keep this in mind when setting the location of your story.

I try to locate my stories in areas in which I have either lived or at least visited. If I need to venture into unknown territory I use maps and research the area online. But I don’t think the writing rings as true as when you experience the area firsthand. However, for me, even if I lived in the location of the story I still find my writing lacking enough detail to bring the story to life.

I’m working on this fault.

Next, people watching.

Entry filed under: OBSERVATIONS & OPINIONS, THE STRUGGLE TO GET IT WRITE, Walt Trizna, WALT'S OBSERVATIONS, WALT'S OPINIONS, writer's information.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lorellepage  |  July 14, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    As it’s my first book I’ve set it in my home town. This has allowed me to concentrate on the construction and flow of the words as the setting is naturally available to me. I’ve written it so you could almost be anywhere though.

    Reply
    • 2. walttriznastories  |  July 15, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      I’ve lived around the country so I use this experience in my writing. My first novel, New Moon Rising, takes place primarily in California, lived there for seven years. My second, as yet unpublished begins in Florida, lived there two years. When my characters take a journey I use actual routes and name the cities along the way – gives the residents of those towns a feeling that they are part of the action.

      Reply

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