Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Inside out

"We're in the strangest time many of us have ever known right now. How do you decide how much of the outside world to include in your work?”

by Dietrich

Strange times indeed, and I could go on about that, but the question is how much of the outside world do I include in my work?

When I stumble on some real-life event that I find interesting and story-worthy, I like to let my imagination run with it and come up with different twists and turns. And sometimes I find a few other real events that fit in as the story progresses. By the time I’m done, there’s not necessarily much that’s recognizable from any of the original real-life inspiration. 

In my novel coming out in the fall, Cradle of the Deep, there are references to news events and happenings from the early 70s, the period the story is set in. Using actual events lent some flavor and credibility, but the story itself is pure fiction. The one coming out after that is also complete, but it follows the real-life happenings of a little known bank-robbing couple who lived in the 30s, making that one more truth than fiction.

There’s obviously more latitude in creating pure fiction than in following actual events, and usually less research is involved in the former than in the latter, but I loved writing both of them. And I like finding challenges and new ways to keep the writing creative and interesting, and sometimes that means trying something different and taking a few chances.    

The whole process of writing a novel normally takes me up to a year, with edits and more edits coming later and tacked on top. So, the initial idea really has to grab me in order for me to want to invest that amount of time in it. And usually the kind of events that interest me most offer some levity. And right now, there’s just not much going on in the world that would make me want to write about it. Maybe it’s all just a little too close to home at the moment.

And how much of the outside world to include – well, that’s a case of balancing. Generally I want enough detail to paint the scene for the reader and still keep the pace moving. I’m usually stingy with the amount of description, and many a darling has been sacrificed along the way. 

In the writing community a lot has changed in recent months. Book stores and libraries have been closed, events and launches have been cancelled, postponed, or driven online. All of it leaving writers, agents and publishers scrambling for new ways to promote their upcoming titles.

As Cathy wrote in a post recently, I too am grateful to just to be able to do what I love to do, and I’ve managed to keep writing in spite of all that’s going on. So, here’s to all of us finding our way through these times, and to things getting back to what we like to call normal.


Brenda Chapman said...

We're on the same page with this question, Dietrich. Congrats on the new book! It also takes me about a year to write the first draft so we're alike on this too :-)

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Brenda.

Paul D. Marks said...

Good luck with the new book, Dietrich. As a (former) diver, love the title. And hopefully by fall things will be more back to normal in terms of promotion opportunities.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Paul. I hope so too.