As a fiction writer, I’m drawn to stories—different kinds of stories, really, because I realize one way to improve my craft is to understand the human condition. By nature, I’m also very curious and I enjoy people.
I want to know what makes them tick.
I want to know what motivates them. How choices, lifestyles, and culture influence their decisions and affect their future.
Smart writers, writers who want to make their stories come alive, don’t put themselves in a box or wall themselves up in their glass houses. (Although when I’m in my writing zone, I must admit, I’m transported to the world I’m creating.)
As I mentioned here (Where I Find Great Story Ideas—Six Examples), I don’t lack for story fodder. And as you might guess from my Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction tagline, my favorite stories to write are those that feature rural areas or small home towns with quirky, loveable (but fallible) characters. (Think Jan Karon’s heartwarming Mitford series with a touch of Debbie Macomber thrown in.)
These characters may or may not share similar values and beliefs. They may come from varied backgrounds and have different convictions. They may have to make hard choices and work through conflict because isn’t that how real life is?
If every story and character were the same, how boring would that be? (Not to mention how that would affect an already sluggish market.)
Bearing in my mind an author’s “brand,” readers are not drawn to the same story. They’re drawn to a similar feel.
Even with favorite book series, readers want to immerse themselves in the familiar, much adored and believable world the author’s created, yes, but they also want to see the story continued as in what happens next?
When driven by passion and story, writers’ fictional worlds resuscitate lackluster reality. Our words (and worlds) infuse inspirational oxygen into ordinary life.
In other words, we take the mundane—normal day-to-day chores, work, and perhaps, boring—and add the wow factor. That unique spin that’s intrinsic to us. (Our voice.)
There’s a reason The Andy Griffith Show, The Waltons, and Little House on the Prairie still command a loyal following. Those shows embody ideals we either grew up with or long for. They make us believe, that despite the world’s problems, there’s still goodness beyond life’s tarnished façade.
That’s why I write what I do.
Simple stories with varied and complex characters appeal. I blend nostalgia, simplicity, and homespun with twenty-first century reality.
Let’s be honest. We still face the same issues (alcoholism, racism, infidelity, divorce, drugs, etc.) that our ancestors did.
We may love gay friends or family members.
We may cling to old habits.
We may choose the sunnier path or we may wallow in the forest.
Our moral convictions, biblical interpretation, and social dictates may differ.
The thing that’s noteworthy?
Today we talk and write about all these things. And we should!
Who wants to read about cardboard cut-outs with no real problems? (I know. I like everything happy, too. BUT without conflict and meeting people where they are, what’s left in a story?
Perfection without conflict is an incident.
That’s something I still struggle with in my work.
As someone recently reminded me, “You’re just too nice.”
Now, normally, I’d take that as a compliment, but as a writer I must put my characters through the wringer—over and over and over again.
Back to the world writers create.
I love these old Ozark hills and hollows. The culture and people here share a rich and vibrant heritage. We talk and walk a little differently.
In some communities, it’s like stepping back in time. In others—in the cities, of course—our cultural influence may not be as noticeable. Still, the geographic thread of our ancestors runs deep. It binds us together in ways that aren’t always visible, yet it’s ingrained in our genes.
As I craft my story worlds, I honor where I’ve come from.
I respect where I’m headed.
The journey’s tough, but fun.
Thanks for joining me.
How does the world we create influence our story?
Blending fact and fiction. Lending truth to our characters’ voices.
MORE THOUGHTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY
What’s unique about your world?
As a reader, what makes a story come alive for you?
Here’s to a coffee-sipping, chocolate-sampling, happy reading kind-of day!
See you back again soon~