The Point of Inspiration–Story Development

There are many ways to propel a story forward.  The physical action of the characters creates movement.  Dialogue creates revelation…who are these people…let them tell you through their words and actions.  And, descriptive narrative assists the forward motion of the story.  Image detail engages the senses.

The Point of Inspiration (Part 2 of 3)
© by Christine O’Brien

She trolled her blue Volvo along the main road, pulling off at the various lookout points.

“That’s Thor’s Hammer,” she said pointing to a top-heavy stone protrusion.

“The thunder god,” he offered to show her that he had a degree of mythological literacy.

They continued on to Bryce Point and the delicate Wall of Windows.  She took him down a trail or two, asking occasionally how he was doing.  Did he need water or want to rest.

When the sun was near setting, she asked him where he was staying.

“Don’t know yet,” he answered truthfully.

There and then she said “I’m going to bake you a cake.”

They returned to her suite at the lodge.

“I work here from April through October,” she told him in explanation.

“As what, a tour guide?”

“No, I’m the head pastry chef.  I actually have a staff that bakes the cakes.  I decorate them according to the occasion and my inspiration.  You might say that I take cake decorating to a new level.  People come here to get married, celebrate an anniversary, birthday, all of those special human occasions.  And a few odd ones like this older couple who ordered a cake to celebrate their newly acquired false teeth!”

He was definitely drawn to this brawny woman with a flair for cake decorating.  He was surprised to hear himself ask, “Can I watch?”

He lingered at the lodge, sharing her room through spring and into summer.  He told her he was on a medical leave from his job for a few months.

“What job,” she asked.

“Firefighter,” he said gruffly.

“A job with a lot of risk,” she said admirably.

By the end of July, she told him that their fling was sweet and that it was over.

“Time to move on,” she said.

To irk her, he added “to greener pastures.”

****
Do you know these characters a little better?  Can you see how the story is being developed?  Can you guess what the secret revelation is?  Post what you think under comments!

Listing Your Endless Curiosities & Writing Historical Fiction

Isn’t that one huge key to being a writer?  That curiosity which leads you down a lane to explore and discover what’s around the next turn and the next one and the next…

Returning from visiting my family in San Francisco recently, I listened with rapt attention to an interview with Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach and several other award-winning novels (The Goon Squad, The KeepLook at Me to name a few).  Two things that were notable to me were 1) she doesn’t have a pre-planned idea of the direction that her book is going to go and 2) she follows her own curiosities in developing the story.  Egan enjoys being surprised as the story develops.  Her desire to find out what happens next helps her to maintain her interest in what she is writing.

Manhattan Beach is considered historical fiction.  Although the characters are contrived, the references to place and time–the setting are based in fact.  Along her writing way, these were some of the things that Egan grew curious about, explored and incorporated into her novel:  New York City in the 40’s during World War II–specifically the Brooklyn shipping docks, diving, organized crime during the prohibition era,  caring for a disabled child.  These well-researched curiosities lent her book the substance and the respect that it has achieved.

“In historical fiction, setting is the most important literary element. Because the author is writing about a particular time in history, the information about the time period must be accurate, authentic…” from Wikipedia

In writing historical fiction, the development of your characters and the unfolding story are superimposed on a ready-made scape of time and place where and when real life events occurred.  In a sense, as the writer, you have part of the story mapped out for you.  Weaving the historical with the imagined characters, their particular circumstances and where the story goes can be an interesting adventure for the writer and later on, for their audience.

WRITING PROMPT:
Consider your own curiosities over the course of your life.  Write them down.  As others occur to you, add them to your list.  Do you have a favorite historical time period? More than one.  List those also.  Have you researched this historical period(s)? Consider how your curiosities can provide you with inspiration and entries into what to write about.

“My esthetic or my method is basically guided by
curiosity and desire…”
Jennifer Egan

Prayer3

She is curious about her universe.