by Bruce Blake
On Tuesday, I flew from my home in beautiful Victoria, BC, Canada, to Vancouver (a quick 15 minute puddle jump), then to Calgary, Alberta, and from there to Grande Prairie, Alberta, where I was picked up and driven to High Prairie, Alberta. As I write this, I am currently sitting in a Days Inn, in the midst of helping a friend (and earning a couple extra bucks, something a full-time writer needs to do sometimes), and you are sitting where ever you are wondering why I’m telling you all this.
I’m going to tell you, but it still won’t make sense if you don’t keep reading.
Sitting in my window seat while flying over the cities of Vancouver and Calgary, I noticed the bright greens and blues of pools in the backyards of some of the houses below us. As often happens to me, I began to wonder ‘why’? (Of course I did, I’m a writer, after all). Why are they painted these oh-so-noticeable colours instead of gray or brown?
The only reason I could think of was so people seating in the window seats of airplanes can see the pools from high above.
I’m sure this is not really why, but I don’t know what the true reason is (if you do, please feel free to comment below). Someone knows, it’s just not me. In their own stories, writers need to be the people who know why things are the way they are, even if no one else does.
In the past, there have been times when the planning of my books has gone no deeper than what the characters themselves would know, my thinking being ‘if they don’t need to know, why do I?’ But I see now that my thinking was erroneous.
As authors, it is our responsibility to know. It adds layers to the writing…layers that may not be seen, but which will be felt. For the epic fantasy I’ve just begun, I’ve been planning in the background for several months as I finished up other projects. I’ve been looking at everything from religion to currency exchange, how and why towns are named, social make up, history and legend, the education system, and more. Much of this planning will not be laid out on display for readers to see, but it will be there, lurking underneath for anyone who wants to go looking for it, lending that extra spoonful of realism that grounds fantasy and makes the utterly unbelievable just that little bit more believable. It takes a little more time, but it is worth it in the end.
All you writers out there: what do you know about your story that no one else knows?
PS – this is totally off topic, but as we took off from Calgary, another pattern of things on the ground caught my eye…on the thin sliver of ground we passed over leaving the city–which did not account for much of the city at all–I counted 34 baseball diamonds. Does that seem like a lot? I guess Calgarians like their ball.
Bruce Blake is the author of the Khirro’s Journey epic fantasy trilogy and two Icarus Fell urban fantasy novels, with the third scheduled for a July 1st release if he can find the time in High Prairie to get some editing done.
Cross your fingers,