Monday, January 18, 2010

City Field Trips

One of the places I love to incorporate in a good mystery is a big city. There's something about the energy and movement that colors a scenario like no other setting. A foot chase in the jungle is very different than along a busy street, or a dark alley for that matter. The city itself is an important character in many of my stories.Whenever I can I take writing field trips to the places
my characters inhabit.
On one such trip I took to the streets of Seattle, Washington. I wandered through the city center, took the public transportation to the busy Pike Place Market and walked along the wharf like a good tourist. The things I wanted to see though weren't on any visitor's guide. My brother and I walked through the harder, edgier part of Seattle one night. I talked to tattoo artists named after animals and dodged a random collection of oranges barrelling down the hilly street towards us. I still have no idea who would send what seemed like a bag of oranges down the road, but I certainly remember it.
I took a notebook and used the bus rides to jot down every smell and color and unfamiliar sound that assaulted me. I came home with a collection of great descriptions. From the eye-searing green the guitar kid wore while playing for money on the corner, to the amazing way the sun split into shards through the roof of the public library. Pictures couldn't do Seattle justice. Weeks later, armed with my notebook, I wrote a story that took place in the very streets and buildings I'd visited. Seattle wasn't just where my story took place, it was a home to my characters right down to the West African restaurant down the street that makes the best Chicken Yassa in the world.
I encourage you writers out there to start a "Sensory Collection". Carry a mini-notebook with you and jot down whatever catches your eye or irritates your ears. You never know where the next quirky character trait, enthralling description, or humorous scene may come from.
Until next time, my friends, you are on my heart and in my prayers.

1 comment:

Debby said...

I look forward to reading your first published work. keep me posted... Debby