You often hear that to write well, write what you know.
A great example of this would be Stephen King. His stories feature real places in and around his home State. The places, and I think sometimes, the people are familiar to him. Real.
This is important. Both to save creative space for the really creative elements, but also to link the reader with something real. Something that they can believe it.
Sometimes just writing about a normal mundane thing can be the catalyst for something ‘other worldy’. Or you can add elements from your world to a regular activity to both explain or show-off the difference between the readers world and one in your writing.
Below I wrote about a day trip to a park with my kids. It is almost moment by moment exactly what we did with one some twist.
I haven’t extend the piece beyond that twist, at least not here, as that isn’t important for this post.
What is, is that I used the real to create a platform for the story to sit in. Real events, a real place IN THIS WORLD. Somewhere that I know so well I can write about it at home and see the place without any imagination.
I could have put in flying cars, or horses and carts to move it forward or backwards in time. I could have used an imaginary animal instead of dogs, or maybe instead of running my children could have cantered on four legs (or more!).
Those however would be extra clues for the reader to understand the world they are now glimpsing.
Today I took the kids out to a nearby abandoned quarry.
I had been told that the bottom of the quarry had long ago been filled with water. As I pulled up in my beat-up by reliable little blue shitbox. My wife had the ‘family car’ as she was visiting her spinning group and needed the extra room for her gear.
Signs near the car park displayed “Warning Deep Water” and “Falling Rocks” and “Drinking Not Advisable”.
The sheer cliff face opposite the gentle grass and garden slope was securely blocked from casual access by some cyclone fencing. I noted that the fencing went a length into the fairly still water.
The kids got out there scooters, and after a stern reminder, had their helmets on they went off to roll down the switch back concrete path to the water’s edge.
Immediately I regret not bringing the dogs. It was clear that this was a mecca for the local dog owners. They greeted each other, and the fur children mostly by name or at worse a nod and a smile.
I called out to the kids to mind the other walkers, but most seemed happy with the smiling girls flying along the path. The dogs were also well behaved and I was pleased to note as my two little ones waited at the corner of the switch back for their slow old dad, asked to pat a cute light brown terrier. The owner commented on how well my kids behaved and I said the same of her fur child.
It was peaceful at the bottom of the quarry. No breeze stirred the air and the traffic noise and city sounds had all but disappeared. I had to strain to hear the Nee Naa of a passing emergency vehicle, at least I assumed that was what it was.
I found a seat and enjoyed the moment of still.
My kids were still scooting up and down and small incline near a steel jetty. A father and son tried out a birthday gift remote controlled boat, I was surprised how far out the boat could go with the simple small controller. Mum types chatted while their fur children mock pounced on each other.
The sun was warm on my face, unusual this close to winter. The last day of warmth before autumn gave in to winter’s will.
It was about then I noticed the fisherman on the left said bank. He was close to the cyclone fence and casting out towards the middle of the lake. I wondered what sort of fish would be found in this isolated body of water.
There were water wrens diving and I even saw a cormorant, so I assumed there was some life in the dark deep water. I recalled by brother had stocked a dam with fingerlings of bass and trout on his farm. So thought maybe someone had decided to gift this water with some aquatic life.
Or else the fisherman was simply doing what I was doing, escaping from the bustle, noise and speed of a city just over the hill. Maybe he didn’t have a child (furry or otherwise) so a rod, reel and some plastic bait were his excuse.
The feeling of contentment within me had reached its crescendo. It was time to come back to my usual world. It was time to open the file.
I unlocked my phone, finger and iris scan, I was always slightly ocd with security. I had recently installed a screen protector which prohibited side viewing. This paranoia in turn made me a terrible person to live with and a sought after security adviser.
The file was in prominent position on my to-do list. I hesitated a sec, looked up. My conscious mind said it was to look again at the peace around me, my professionally side knew it was to check the surroundings. Nothing out of the ordinary, no one close enough to see my newly protected screen.
Pressing down I opened the file, her face appeared.
Image from David Irvine, check out his work, it really represents what I mean using familiar art (at least the mass produced style is familiar) with the addition of something a little out of the ordinary.
You can purchase original art on his Etsy page.