Escapism through scenery and characters is what I love about reading fiction! And because of that I’ve often shared here on Writers in Residence my meandering and self-centric thoughts on both aspects—scenery and characters from a writing perspective. And in this post, I’m visiting both again—conjointly— as they are both affecting my writing adventure right now. For sure, I was completely surprised by Parnell Chatterman. A new hero and series I hope to start this year. (Big deal for me—a one at a time kind of writer.)I’m guessing part of my interest and surprise stems from a 2021 malaise that grabbed hold of me writing-wise all last year. So I certainly didn’t expect a new and concurrent series popping up!
In the past, my one at a time few books have been inspired and happened in the various places I lived at the time. I.e, Uncle Si’s secret, my first was written when I lived in North Bend, WA. From there, the next was around Ridgecrest, CA, and from there to the Mojave and fictional Newtown and Shiné. All real and inspiring places for me, and the last, nonexistent Shiné in particular, has become very real. And I’m thinking, the people in Shiné too? Hence the surprise—out of Shiné the place and it’s inhabitants, I’m starting a new series (only a few pages written) based on an “inhabitant” of Shiné. I honestly hadn’t realized how real Shiné had become for me. Real enough to become further fiction?
The distinction (and irony) I’m making and pointing out may not be obvious…so I’ll try to explain a little further. I walk my dog(s) every morning. It’s early, and I’m out in open desert (Shiné land!) But in the far distance I can barely see trucks moving along I-15. Sometimes my imagination wanders off to what the drivers might be thinking, their back stories, and of course, how they would fit in a murder mystery. For me, scenery and setting inspiring fiction. (one such driver has a “walk on” in my current WIP.)
But Parnell Chatterman’s existence came out of place already in existence. (I know, I know, Shiné doesn’t really exist), but it is very real in this writer’s mind. The Mojave location, Shiné’s layout, the inhabitants—combined and somehow gave life to a new character with a series of his own!
So what is the take away from what I’m experiencing that might inspire writing friends, and also may be interesting to readers as to where all this writing stuff comes from? I think the nugget is to try to make your setting and characters so enticing, that consequently, a place someone might want to live in or visit in reality— and for the writers reading this, a whole new series may arise? Maybe there’s a character you really like in a current book that you want to bring to the stage? Or, on the other improvement side, maybe your current-book’s world isn’t enticingly-real enough to “create” new fiction. And the question would be do you want to change that?
And, the additional point —that for me and maybe some others of you—this writing journey is sooo full of surprises, and the importance of keeping our minds open to those surprises. Let them in!
Having reread this—I’m thinking my thoughts here might be either helpful—or maybe just come across as idiotic twaddle. Either way though, hoping my meanderings will re-emphasize how important setting and characters are. Parnell Chatterman certainly thinks so!(smile) I better get writing… And reading. Have Death of a Green-Eyed Monster by M.C. Beaton with R.W. Green waiting for me, and Hamish Macbeth and the Scottish Highlands are a setting and characters I love visiting! Lochdubh and Hamish are real, aren’t they?