Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Internet's gift to fiction writers

Information on the Internet is good for lots of things. I've found my way to numerous local addresses, gotten phone numbers, made dinner reservations, verified spellings--a whole raft of things. But I didn't have nearly as deep an appreciation for the possibilities until I started writing fiction that took my characters to locations I'd never visited.

They say, "write what you know" but what to do when a character insists that he has to go Ojai in search of a witch or that she has to go to Farmington, New Mexico, to meet a cowboy. I've learned to do what my characters ask and sort it all out later, and the Internet makes that possible.

In my first novel, Jake found out that a member of a Wiccan community who lived in Ojai could help him find the woman who had bewitched him (literally). So I visited the Ojai Chamber of Commerce, found Jake a motel that would take him and his cat Sadie, a place for him to go and meditate early in the morning, and an apartment on Craig's List for the fellow who had the information. I had visual images of all these places and so while I couldn't describe the feeling of the place, I could certainly describe the scenes.

In the second novel I'm writing now, Friday I sorted out the best route for Ellie to take from Farmington to Chama, found her a curious place to stay, named the highways out of town, even told her what to order off a menu in a local restaurant and where to while away an hour or two (gave her a choice of public library or little galleries).

In the middle of the 19th century, travel books and fiction set in exotic places were very popular: they were called "armchair" literature and the writers visited those places and then described them for the reader. The Internet allows me to be an mouse-click writer and have a much broader world for my characters to venture out into.

No comments:

Post a Comment