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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Being There

Last week I drove down to the Rocky Mountain town of Breckenridge, Colorado, to do some research about the area, take pictures and notes and fill my mind and senses with the town and its flavors.
I've just started writing a new novel, set in the Breckenridge area and I want to make sure that my characters and the events surrounding them seem completely authentic.
I've been to the beautiful ski town of Breckenridge (about 10 miles south of Frisco and I-70) many times before.
But this trip was different. I wanted to know the town, see the place as if I were my heroine, just moved here, just starting a new life. She wouldn't be looking at Breckenridge as a place to visit for a few hours. No, this young woman would be seeing Breckenridge with a mind that asks:
Where will I shop?
Where is the post office, the bank, the hardware store, the computer store?
The doctor, the dentist?
Places of worship?
What will these mountains look like to me when I'm unsure of my future? 

With every shop or place of business I noted, I tried to imagine my heroine coming and going, tried to imagine her thoughts and feelings as she parked her car, conducted her business, drove back to her job or her apartment.
I read books my heroine would read. I played guitar music my guitar-playing heroine would read.
I got into her head. Entered her world.

After my visit to Breckenridge, having entered the world of my characters, their back stories and their personality profiles suddenly became amazingly clear. Once I knew my heroine's history and her personality, everything else -- her motivation, her goals, her fears, her passions --presented themselves.

I am ready to write the story now.
I know that my readers will believe my story.
Because I've been there, so has my character.

So what's the Life Application?

I recently told someone at church, it's a good thing that I didn't start writing when I was much younger. Oh, I could have learned the craft of writing. But I lacked experience. I wasn't there yet. I needed time to learn, then reflect upon my life lessons.
I needed time to see the world, to get to know people, to serve and be served.
I'm glad I've experienced hurt, repentance, failure and success, forgiveness, illness, unanswered prayer, perplexity in many places, grief, frustrations, great joys, great loves.
Most of all, I've had time to experience God's indescribable goodness, even when times are bad.

So now, when I speak or write about some painful or poignant subject, my listeners believe me.
Because I've been there.

There are still "places" I haven't been to yet. I hope I have the strength to resist the temptation to write about them.

"I've been things and seen places." (Mae West, early 20th century actress)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dena -

    When my husband walked through the most trying times of his life with grace, people were drawn to him. He understood what they were experiencing. They wanted to know the reason he was so peaceful.

    There's something about living that says, "I've been in your shoes." For me, it translates into writing stories with genuine emotion.

    Susan :)