Courtney S. Barr

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Memos

-J.R.R. Tolkien
Traveling for a writer is different.

We sit inside our home and can be instantly swept away into a land that no plane, train or car can get to.

We can travel to years when the roads were only rock and grass, worn in by cart or hoof or to years where we can only imagine the modes of transportation.

We walk the same streets as other people yet our minds are taking in the details, hoarding them for a later date. When the page is blank before us we pull the memory out and do not just describe the character's environment, we remember it - we go back to it.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to travel to exotic lands and actually carry a suitcase. We get to research the history and immerse ourselves in the culture. Like most people we take our pictures, we eat the food, we buy their wares and we go home; exhausted, happy and content.

But unlike most we don't just use the photograph for sweet recollection, it is now an option, a description that can be altered or left as is. It becomes the setting, the scene, sometimes the heart of a story.

Bilbo was right. It is easy to get swept away.

Luckily for a writer that is what we want our readers to do...get swept away with our characters. Travel to lands that only exist for them or places our reader can walk the same path feeling the same emotions.

How often do you base your settings on actual places you have been? Do you create your world with only a hint of "our" reality? If you have used an actual location, did it have sentimental value or does it merely work for the genre?
Check out Lisa & Laura's blog they have an interesting post about...Matthew McConaughey

Steena & Stina are hosting contests! Each blog has different prizes & they ROCK!!! Go, click, enter!!!

Jill Kemerer discusses Book Openings vs Movie Openings --check it out!

Jaydee Morgan has an interesting post about Multiple Personalities and Multiple Manuscripts Do you multi-task with projects?

The Query Tracker has an upcoming contest (4-27-2010) - JUDGED BY AN AGENT!! Check it out - its a one sentence pitch of your manuscript...go check out all the details...

Oh yeah, Simon is trying to decide how to celebrate all his wonderful followers (if you aren't one you should be!). Be sure to check in with him and see what he has up his sleeve...I promise it will be good!

Have a Mesmerizing Monday!


  1. I always write about places I have been, but I also include some I haven't actually traveled to. Thanks to the Internet, I can make a virtual journey to some exotic locale and then write about it as if I'd actually been there. I don't think it's cheating at all, by the way.

  2. Great post, Princess! Traveling and writing do go hand in hand. Thanks for the great links! I didn't know about several of them. :-)

  3. I'm a reality based writer. My goal however is to get to some exotic places and write about them. Then they will be my reality. Like the south of France, Italy, and the UK. Oh, and Russia.

  4. I pretty much write on stuff in my head, which can sometimes be derived from actual places, but usually isn't. I have a very vivid picture of things like the houses, etc, in my head and sometimes even sketch them out on paper or on paint (computer paint, not real paint).

    But I love to travel! I got bitten by the travel bug and my list of places to go is FAR longer than my current situation allows *sigh*

  5. Good topic. I would think it is difficult to write about an actual place that an author has never visited. I would say that is why most writers start with: "Write what you know" that included venue.

  6. Ooh! Linky love! Thanks, good lady. A virtual peck on the cheek for you.

    You know what I found awfully fun, recently? I travelled to Paris in my most recent short story. I've never been to Paris. I used Google Earth, chose an apartment over a bakery in the rue de Cherche-Midi, and off I went. I used Google Maps Street View to wander around the neighborhood. I looked across the Seine toward the Louvre. All without leaving my chair.

    I love the story. I love that I could make it real without ever setting foot in Paris. (And I <3 Nicole Ducleroir a little bit too, for beta-reading for me and suggesting changes for cultural authenticity.)

    It's easier than ever now to travel as a writer. It's a beautiful thing.

  7. Loved this, especially the quote. Bilbo was definitely right. And I feel this way all the time... especially on long trips. I love to stare out the window and watch the scenery roll by and imagine stories about the people and places I see. I've done it ever since I was a kid.

    Wonderful post today! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Great post especially since I just got back from a weekend in Chicago. :)

  9. Happy Monday to you, too!

    I usually write about places I've been to. I just find it that much easier to be authentic and I love revisiting my memories.

  10. I'm another who writes about the places I know - though I usually change them into fictional places so I can improvise.

  11. I write about places I've been. To really know the flavor, the vibe of a place you need to feel it, go least for me. (this is why I could never write fantasy r science fiction, I just don't have that kind of imagination.)

    Fortunately, I LOVE to travel and have been to many countries, and every state in the US except Maine- I will be remedying that by spending 2 weeks in coastal Maine this summer. (excited!)

    Next year we are spending a month in Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels.

    I love that quote, Courtney. Happy Monday! :o)


  12. Thanks everyone!

    I am a mixture of the traveler & the creator. There are times when I write a story set in an area I have traveled to or based upon. I also enjoy creating a world of my own. Full of things that have only ever existed in my mind combined with many things from reality.

    Since I love to travel, every time I do I take mental notes for future work. It makes for a great memory of my trips and wonderful research for my stories ;o)

  13. Well said! I always start with a real place, then let it carry me away :-) It's always a wonderful journey ...

  14. Thanks for the shout out!

    And love your thoughts on traveling as a writer. It really is a gift to be able to visit so many different places in our minds...

  15. Wait - but I want to travel like Frodo!

    I am about half and half on places I've been. So many places I write about aren't quite real :)

  16. Portia - I love doing that! I often use the same technique!

    LiLa - you are so welcome and so right. Writing really does have so many perks ;o)

    PJ - me too!!! lol


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