“An Interesting Life Feeds Makes for Interesting Writing.” When you saw that title, whose life did you think that I meant?
Maybe you first thought of the character’s life. Certainly a character with an interesting life will be more fun to write (and read) about than a character who sits on the sofa, plays video games and eats chips. Snore!
What I actually meant was that when a writer has an interesting life, it makes for interesting stories.
Lately, I’ve been doing the prep-work for NaNoWriMo. I’ve finished half of my character interviews and I’ve scrapbooked the characters and settings. This means that I’ve been doing a lot of research.
Google Image is my friend. I’ve collected photos of historic iron mines, miners cabins, ghost towns, and a deserted mansion. There are photos of Lon Sanders canyon, iron ore and old timey mercantile stores. All of these things came into the story intentionally.
But as I was searching cabins (my main character has to live someplace!), I had an epiphany. I needed exterior images but I needed to know the layout as well. A number of interior artifacts would also be useful. Where oh where could I find these things together. Then it hit me. My father-in-law has helped restored a log cabin. In is now set up as a museum complete with wood burning stoves, a spinning wheel, and a kitchen. Seriously, I can be so dense at times. That’s a photo of the cabin and our truck, both restored by my father-in-law. Thank goodness I have such interesting people in my life!
Then something completely unexpected crept into the story. What do they grow on this farm? Originally, the farm where this cabin stands, included tobacco fields. We know this because there is a tobacco barn. My mother died of lung cancer and my father has COPD. Yeah, I already really like this character and she is not going to grow tobacco. Besides, I’ve moved the cabin to slightly different geography that is far too rocky for tobacco but there are cattle aplenty.
Guess where my family went this weekend? The photo to the right is my son drinking a soda in a calf barn. We went to a local organic creamery. Now, in my story, the Wilkersons keep dairy cattle and, by the end of the book, will be working towards having a full-fledged dairy. I so did not see that coming and will have to go back to the real dairy (oh woe is me!), take the official tour and do some delicious research.
Spend time with interesting people. Go interesting places. Do interesting things. They will find their way into your stories.