Fiction to Reality to Fiction

winding road
The Winding Writing Road

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), GroupOfPeoplebut 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!

questioningmanHaving 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?

Happy Writing Trails!

17 thoughts on “Fiction to Reality to Fiction”

  1. Goodness, your post sure struck home. Inspiration by Setting is a great way to create a series. Forgive my self-serving comment here when I mention that my mystery series brings my hometown of St. Ives, Cornwall, UK into the books, then London, UK. The book then shifts to Balboa Island, CA where I moved to accept a job. Now, I am living in CT and have outlined a new series based here in Westport. It is fascinating comparing my four settings, including the somewhat drastic change of weather. I love the way you are considering yours, especially the question you raise. Shine on!!
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Jill, do you ever know about setting! I love English settings, and have been in CA for a few years now, but know very little about the East Coast, so I will be very much interested in reading your new series set in Westport.
      And thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words…so often when thinking about and writing my posts I wonder if my meaderings will have any meaning for anyone else. So thank you! And so nice to know how important setting is also for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Since I have enjoyed your books, I can honestly say your towns are so real I feel that I could walk down those streets myself. What you are doing is creating another world. And they are sort of real since you have described the scenes so vividly. I have linked the characters and places in my three detective series to each other, and if you look close, the people in my spy novels also know those folks. I do think writers create worlds. Ain’t it great?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I very much like the character connections, it makes the current character even more real because that’s how the world is, “real people” ha ha. And soooooo glad you can walk down Shine’s streets–makes me feel so good as writer where setting is my key to the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such an interesting premise. My love of travel has been reduced to exploring places both familiar and new through the pages of books. Many of the writers I met in LA decades ago have moved to other cities or states. Some have taken LA with them and still base their stories there, while others have embraced their new hometown as a setting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Miko, you and Gayle have started me down the thinking path of how authors, you in particular, have taken “real” settings with them. And if a reader like you is enticed by travel, the books-setting-characters, and plot line can all be enriched…thanks for this improvement(for me) line of thought…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a thought-provoking post, Mad. I always love the settings in your books, having often driven Route 66. But you really bring to life the unseen world around it. And what an exciting new series you are now absorbed in. The different settings, wherever we have lived, inspire amazing worlds for us to write about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So agree, Rosemary, on driving through a place (like along Route 66), and imagining (or not), the unseen worlds out there. Sort of like me and the truckers…
      Sure wish I were a faster writer! (smile)


  5. I find settings really important in developing not only the stories but the characters too. And many places I visit inspire me to think about what kinds of stories can be set there. Real, or smacking of reality? Maybe! I need to ponder that. Thanks for an inspirational post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, glad to hear you too are inspired by settings! And your point that only certain types of stores may arise from a certain setting. I need to ponder that, because I think you’re right….hmmm


  6. Madeline, what a great post. Now I can’t wait to see who this new stranger is, and what are his problems, decisions (good or bad), secrets, and interactions with others. Oh, do write it quickly!!


  7. Setting is often a character in a story and can drive the plot. I lived in SoCal for many years and miss it, so love reading stories (like yours) set there. As for MC Beaton, I’m slowly reading the Hamish Macbeth series. She does a great job bringing the Highlands to life. Great post, Madeline!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Maggie! I loved Hamish from the start and read all of them. Alas, with Marion Chesney’s(sp) passing away I’m not sure if the one I just bought was written totally by her, but I still can’t wait. She established her Scottish setting and Hamish so well in my mind, that at this point I can see him and his surroundings without any trouble. I call that really really good story telling!


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