Writing Tip — Writing in Time: June as Writing Inspiration

hikingw-3402199_1280Where I live, there are not a lot of holidays in June. But that doesn’t mean June as writing inspiration isn’t overflowing with possibilities. Some of the ideas below I mentioned last June and others I have expanded on.

Father’s Day: It can be a setting for exploring male relationships within a family. Like I wrote in May for Mother’s Day, you can write a story, only set on Father’s Day over a number years, to show how the male characters change.

Summer Solstice: This year summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21. Last year, I wrote about some of the folklore associated with this day. These stories can also inspire speculative fiction.

Or you could use the length of day as a key plot point in your fantasy. Certain people are born with special powers, perhaps commanding the four elements, and these powers increase with the amount of daylight. The power itself is neutral, so during the summer solstice, the good and evil characters can have a day-long battle at the peak of their powers.

Adventure: For some reason, June seems to me to be the perfect month to set an adventure story, or at least start one. The month is especially appropriate if your characters are young enough to have a summer vacation, which would allow you to stretch the adventure over the whole break.

Possible settings for contemporary adventures:

  • Ocean: I love the sea, swimming in it or sailing on it. I’ve visited the eastern coast of America each summer for several years now, so the sea and the history attached to this area is ripe for adventure. Your main characters could own a sail boat and investigate whether a local legend about buried pirate treasure is true. The eastern coast is dotted with islands, both inhabited and not, so there are plenty of places for your characters to explore.
  • Mountains: I am most familiar with the Appalachians, so I might set family camping trip there, one that Goes Horribly Wrong. The characters have to fight the elements, or perhaps a human threat, without any outside help due to being cut off from technology.
  • Road trip: America is a wonderful setting for a road trip. Give your characters some reason to drive from coast to coast or some other great distance. A road trip presents almost limitless possibilities for introducing conflict, characters, and plot twists.

How would you use June as writing inspiration?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Nature’s Small Wonders

naturew-3142272_1280This month I am focusing on using nature to inspire our writing. This prompt encourages you to slow down and study nature.

Pick one of nature’s small wonders, such as flower or insect. Watch it for five minutes. Then take notes on it. Be sure to observe it through as many of the senses, if you can.  (I do not recommend tasting the flower or insect.)

From your notes, write a paragraph or poem or something else. Please share below!

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: A Tribute on Memorial Day

bereavementw-1239415_1280Since it’s Memorial Day in America, and we have been talking about research and historical fiction all month, I thought writing a tribute about a loved one who has passed away would be appropriate.

The house of my maternal grandparents was one of my favorite places growing up. No matter when we dropped by their home out in the country on an acre of hillside, they were always glad to see me and my sisters. We had pizza suppers on the weekend and watched old Tarzan movies or the Wonderful World of Disney. Grandma canned throughout the summer in the large, cool basement. In the winter, we had many family dinners down there, sitting around a long table, or if we were young enough, at the smaller, children’s table. Grandpa would work puzzles in the basement, and the wood burning stove smelled of comfort.

When they had to move next door to my parents, I thought I would desperately miss the house I knew as a child. But as soon as I stepped through the door of their new home, it felt exactly like their old one. The house wasn’t special. It was my grandparents.

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts — Inspiration from Family Stories

girlsw-614914_1280I come from a family of storytellers. One way we get to know people is to swap stories. I am fortunate to have been told stories about my great-great grandparents. Such as I have a great-great grandfather who died in the notorious Civil War prisoner of war camp at Andersonville.

So if you are blessed with older family members with long memories and great stories, interview them. Besides preserving family history, you may find literary inspiration.

What inspiration from family stories have you gained?

 

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts– What’s Your Favorite Time in History?

shipw-1505929_1280I have several favorite time periods, eras I would enjoy researching if I ever turned my attention to historical fiction.

  • Dark Ages and Medieval Europe
  • The Golden Age of Exploration — I did my research paper for my history major on Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal.
  • Victorian era — Especially Europe, but any location during this time period in which Sherlock Holmes could plausibly appear.
  • Golden Age of Hollywood — Since I love movies from the 1930’s, ’40’s and ’50’s, I’ve already read a lot about the people working in the Hollywood studio system. A mystery set then would be fun to write.

So what’s your favorite?

Writing Tip — Favorite Stories — The Daughter of Time

daughter of timeAs a fan of mysteries, I had come across The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey on lists of the best mysteries ever written. When I finally settled down to read it, I found it to be one of the most engrossing stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to discover. It expertly combines two of my passions: history and mystery.

nypl-digitalcollections-99a6ed7e-0d3c-0e0d-e040-e00a18061e25-001-rWritten in England in the 1950’s, the novel features Inspector Alan Grant, laid up in the hospital with a broken leg and bored out of his mind. His actress girlfriend knows his fascination with faces and brings him copies of photos and portraits to study. When he find the portrait of Richard III, he can’t reconcile the face with the man’s reputation as the murderer of his tween age nephews. The girlfriend contacts Brent Carradine, young man doing historical research, and he and Grant begin to believe that the story handed down for 500 years about Richard III being a merrily murdering monster is false.

Although the characters and setting are fictitious, the mystery is not. Edward V and his younger brother Richard did disappear sometime after June 1483. Their uncle Richard, who became king when the boys were declared illegitimate, is the most likely culprit. But Henry Tudor, who killed Richard III in battle and took the throne, also had a motive.

Even more involving than this mystery is the one of how people interpret history. In the novel, Grant and Carradine stick to contemporary sources and must examine the motives of the authors. Was he a sympathizer of the York family, the branch of the royal house Richard III belonged to? Or did the author favor the Lancaster side, of which Henry Tudor was a member?

The two characters also discuss how people lie about events to further their own agenda. I found all this analysis of history so inspiring that I want to use the novel in my own murder mystery. My main character use the techniques of research outlined in the book to investigate a 70-year-old mystery in his rural West Virginia county.

If you want to learn more about Richard III and his nephews, click here for the Wikipedia article. Many books have been written about the mystery, and it’s difficult to find ones that are biased. As I stated in one of my earliest blog posts, the authors tend to be either ardent Richard III supporters or detractors. Very much like the people who wrote about Richard in 1483.

What other novels have you read that blend unsolved real-life mysteries with fiction?

 

Mondays Sparks — Writing Prompts

girlw-1346482_1280I am dedicating my blog this May to historical fiction. With that in mind, today’s prompt is about delving into personal history, in the hopes your nonfiction experience might provide fictional inspiration. What is your earliest memory? I find early memories misleading because I imagine events my parents and grandparents told me about and think they are memories.

One memory I am sure of: I was not quiet four year old when my mom had my sister. I remember my parents coming home from the hospital and laying my new sister on the double bed in the front bedroom of our house. I jumped up on the bed and sat beside her to get a look at her. That’s as far as the memory goes, but I know it’s a true memory.

Share your earliest memory in the comments.

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