Thursday, September 15, 2011

Oh! The Places You'll Go!


(Warning! This post is not to ensue feelings of jealousy or the possibility of hitting the post author. These pictures are to help segue into a possible thought process.  Please continue.)
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

I've been here
(Adventure story waiting to be told involving vagrants, trains and buses).

Been here too
Santorini, Greece.

I've traveled a lot. My travel bug may have come from being an Air Force darling, not brat. We moved twenty-eight times before I was a freshman in high school.
I'm not sure if traveling affects my writing as much as people watching does. Half of my stories have come from National Novel Writing Month, a third from my dreams and the rest from somewhere inside my brain.
I do believe traveling or the very least, exploring, adds richness to our lives which comes out in our writing. Trying new food, music, artistic outlet all will add to our viability.

Do all the places you've visited help you in your writing? Are you able to write more realistic characters or settings or stories?

What if you write science fiction? Visiting places might not help sci/fi writers. Or maybe it will...

Can writers get along on pure imagination? I think yes. Then again, if you're going to set your novel in Paris, you'd better know your way around, what the police are called and how yummy the food is because guaranteed someone will know too.

What do you think?


Scott said...

I definitely believe traveling helps inspire stories and scenes, and even small bits that make it into scenes. But it doesn't have to be to exotic places. It could be a part of town you don't usually go to, a new park with different people to watch, a restaurant you've never been to or even a different menu item at a familiar restaurant. You can even go to a familiar place, and just look at it in a different way. Try a local festival celebrating a different culture or lifestyle. We have a lot of those in Utah.

What you want to do is expand your horizons, and go in with your eyes open. And go outside your comfort zone. If you're nervous or uncomfortable, your senses become heightened and you are more aware of your surroundings, partly because your brain is paying attention so you'll be aware of potential dangers.

I'm not saying you should put yourself in danger. Your senses open any time you are in unfamiliar territory.

Watch people talking, arguing, playing. A simple gesture or phrase could inspire you. I once wrote a poem that was inspired by a UPS driver I overhead telling somebody that "Christmas without snow is a sin," which triggered my wonderful memories of great Christmases without snow growing up in California, which in turn led me to think about how likely it was that there was snow at the traditional first Christmas (not very likely), and suddenly a poem was born.

You don't have to set a story in a place where you've been for new experiences to help you. Just be aware of how you feel and what other people do while you're in that heightened state of awareness and work that into any story.

Taffy said...

Great comments, Scott! You're right about experiences. I'm amazed what sneaks into my stories from my life or my kids or friends.