Wednesdays over at SCN Lifewriters are for "Real Words", the sharing of favorite quotes. There are always some thought-provoking bits of wisdom imparted. I loved the one Susan Albert shared this week because it's wonderful and because it fit right in with what I wanted to share this week.
to see--see the world differently. In my writing there is no separation
between how I observe the world and how I write the world. We write through
our eyes. We write through our body. We write out of what we know.
Terry Tempest Williams
We need not read textbooks or literary tomes or even "how to" books to pick up valuable insights about writing. Not that there aren't some fine books about writing. There are and there are reviews of some of those on the SCBR website. But, look again at what TTW said here:"The writers I want to read teach me how to see--see the world differently." Is there something new you need to see, something about writing you need to learn? You might be surprised where you can find it.
If you are writing about a new location and you want it to be realistic and interesting, read a book about that place. Are you experimenting with dialogue or a different dialect or accent? Read authors who successfully use that type of speech. Steep yourself in the genre, the period, the locale--be it customs or costuming, accents or slang, food traditions, ethnicity--someone has written about that. Research need not be tedious. Read novels, biographies, travel memoirs. Google your need or enter a broad category (Victorian England) in an Amazon search. Ask friends for suggestions. You'll find what you need. If you're lucky enough to travel, gather whatever info you can on the area. You never know when you might need it. Outings become opportunities. Visit museums and historical sites. Can't travel? Every tourist bureau is more than happy to send packets of information.
Did you ever wonder how it is that Susan Wittig Albert's Cottage Tale books are so authentic? Hop on over to her Cottage Tales Festival and you'll learn just how she managed that. She has some wonderful stories about the background and research for the series. Easy?..I suspect not. Enjoyable?...I'd almost guarantee i
If you follow Susan's Lifescapes blog, you'll learn that she's reading novels about the South right now, as preparation for the new series she has coming out set in 1930's Darling, Alabama--about as south as you can get! She wants to make sure her Darling Garden Club ladies look and speak and dress just right. Check out the end of this post for links to her Facebook page and her research.
In one of the first books I read on writing techniques, and still one of my favorites, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird the author was writing about a woman with a garden. Now Anne couldn't grow a silk plant much less a garden What did she do? She called on the talents of a nurseryman who helped her design a huge fictional garden, just the kind she envisioned for her character. She just knew this woman had to garden; Anne loved gardens but had no knowledge or talent. She found someone who did. She calls this sort of research and planning "set design."
Make this part of your writing life fun. You won't be wasting time, but rather investing it.
That's all for this time, except for reminding to watch for the next SC Book Review Newsletter, coming out soon. Books to read, books to savor. Ya'll come!