Building Blocks (? The ‘world view’ of our readers)

Time molds vivid memories from one’s past into the building blocks of one’s writing…

Remembering that our readers are seeing a picture that we are drawing with words, we must keep in mind that the reader may/may not mentally associate with what we are trying to infer.

“The road would seem to be in the middle of nowhere. Yet, the profusion of retail businesses at this intersection exhibited the diversity of area residents.” One should never judge a population solely on the distance you are from a large city or small town; how will your readers so judge? However, some things are universal. For instance, all around the world, birds will frequent outdoor eateries, just as people do. Here are two examples:

We were sitting outside at a café in Stuttgart, Germany, and the waitress placed a basket of warm rolls on the center of our table. Within a blink of an eye, a pigeon landed on the basket and began to feast on the rolls. I had to use my hand to brush the aggressively hungry pigeon away. I commented to my date that this café sure did serve rare food (I meant undercooked, but maybe they did serve pigeons).

In Panama City, Panama, I was having some food at an outdoor café, when I noticed two hungry looking pigeons standing by the curbside watching me eat. Not thinking clearly, I tossed a few bread crumbs to the hungry birds. Instantly, a flock of what appeared to be two thousand birds materialized out of nowhere and descended amongst the tables! Two things immediately came to mind. First, these pigeons could have easily won a pigeon race in Germany, and, far more importantly, it was time for Steve to leave the café before the other patrons dining outside realized I was the one who was responsible for pigeon invasion!

Talking about food, let us remember that our readers may not mentally associate with something we think is universal. For example, Starbucks are located all around the world. However, even though there seemed to be a Starbucks on every street in Seoul, South Korea, none seemed to have decaf coffee. I was told the decaf beans were too expensive to import. Thus, a reader from Seoul may/may not understand: “To the surprise of his girlfriend, he ordered a Starbucks Decaf Americano before heading to their nighttime playground.”

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.



Building Blocks (Oddities of Life)

Time molds vivid memories from one’s past into the building blocks of one’s writing…For this Building Block, let’s put to rest any character who professes that life is without oddities…where every day is normality centric…and let us disprove it with some oddities of life.

For example, when you are at the doctor’s for an ailment, the nice assistants all politely great you with “Good morning, and how are you today?”

Do you know someone who disagrees that Mother Nature enjoys becoming ‘iffy’ when we need good weather for the big game? (Or, an ‘I’m a true Scrabble person’ who thinks ‘iffy’ is not a Merriam-Webster word.)

Ever wonder why the only public restroom is closed for cleaning when you really need to use it?

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.

Building Blocks (‘perspective inducing’ ideas)

History is far more than newspaper headlines. The characters in our stories breathe lives that reflect humanism of specific ages. The poster in the picture was on the wall of a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Restaurant. It reflects human life of 1953. For $2.00, yes $2.00, on January 1, 1953, at the Ryman Auditorium, in Nashville, one could see six singers; to include Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Loretta Lynn. At present, the lives of our readers are far removed from the days of $2.00 tickets for six singers. Can our readers relate to the value of $2.00 in 1953? How do we, as writers, place this relationship in perspective. Oh,at the Ryman Auditorium on September 15, 2017, to see Little Big Town at the Mother Church, main floor seats go for $597 to $996!

While I am not suggesting you eat at a Cracker Barrel, you may want to give their human history wall décor a second look…a ‘how can I use what I am seeing to put my character’s life in perspective’.

Here are some other ‘perspective inducing’ ideas you may have overlooked:

The show Seinfeld (1989 to 1998) is still on television reruns. On Jerry’s apartment wall is a picture of a Good Humor ice cream truck large 5¢ sign on the back. In 1933, during the Great Depression, Good Humor introduced a bar for 5¢, half the price of a normal bar. Pop cycles were still 5¢ in the 1950s.

When you walk within your place of worship, have you stopped to really look at items on the walls, and think about how the lives of your characters were at the time. For example, what clothes are they wearing to worship? Is there someone who is not in conformity? At my church there is a suit and tie ‘dress code’ at the 8 am service; a relaxed ‘dress code’ at the 9:15 am; and a ‘mixed code’ at the 11:00 am. What was it like 25, 50, or 100 years ago? Is a desired or unknown statement being made by the character in your story?

Why not do Google imagery searches of advertising, be it clothes to toys, and grasp what was available and the costs. Gee willikers, a pair of “finely knit, full fashioned, ringless silk stockings” were advertised in 1940 at 49¢ a pair (3 for $1.42); “quality features you’ll find at 69¢”.

Even in your neighborhood you have probably passed items that are ‘perspective inducing’. What would prompt a character to put up a white picket fence in 1910 versus today? Picket fences are particularly popular in the United States, and the style used since America’s earliest colonial era and remains popular. Today a white picket fence has iconic status as Americana, symbolizing the ideal middle-class suburban life, with a family and children, a large house, and peaceful living. However, in recent years, some people have associated picket fences with what they regard as the more negative aspects of family lifestyle.

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.