I’m asked this question often:
What do you do for a living?
When asked, I enjoy telling people that I’m an author. This response often leads to discussions about my books, my stories, the genres’ of fantasy and romance; my story themes, too. Further conversation can illicit reader insights that can aid the craft of writing, so I try to be open with my replies, but permit me to get to the point of this blog… and the author question.
My life-scene opens at the dental office. That awkward moment before the dentist looks inside my mouth. To calm his patient, there’s this get to know you moment that invariably takes place. Mine went something like this:
“So, what do you do for a living?” he said with a grin, his eyebrows slightly raised.
“I’m an author,” I reply honestly.
“An author? Really. What do you write?”
“Fantasy, a bit of romance,” I tell him, trying to be vague. He’s obviously more fascinated by the fantasy stories because his line of questioning then relates to my fantasy books. “What are your stories about?”
“I’m a fan of George R.R. Martin… so, my writing can take on a darker tone, but with a romantic edge.”
“So, your stories probably have a medieval feel?”
I’m impressed by his comment, that he gets the connection between A Game of Thrones and my own storied craft. “Yes!” I say with a grin. And then the conversation becomes interesting. The dental professional shares his reader insights, and questions about the craft, and a favorite author, he’s always wondered about.
He’s a fan of Tolkien. So much so, he’s read everything that he can find about middle earth. He tells me: ‘if I could have have had a conversation with Tolkien, I’d have asked him how he drafted his world. It was so detailed… How does an author do that?’
My response: ‘Author’s have some oddities in common. Tolkien’s world probably lived inside his head.’
The mind is a strange bedfellow. A place where stories are not only imagined but also real; where worlds shape an author’s perception of reality. To understand the narrative, there’s only one place a reader can go to learn the truth: into the mind of an author.
When writing my scenes, I often find that the characters feel real. Conversations of dialogue seem to grow from nowhere. This nattering of him and her that forces me to grab my laptop and write.
The world is real inside my head. Like a perceived vision or a movie playing on-screen, I can see the fantasy wordscape… with my eyes shut tight.
What comes to mind is a scene from book two in The Odin Saga, The Ebony Queen. My focus in this description relates to the high-priestess or mage, Aniron. Her crystal-keep has been built on a salt-lake. A huge megalithic structure with long crystalline rods rising diagonally in all directions from the base. A tower sits in the center of it all, stretching upward into a pearlescent blue sky. A pearl turret encloses the top. Opaque, a character would be able to see the sky. How did I envision that? I honestly don’t know.
What’s clear to me as the author of my own writings, is that the setting takes some importance in the telling of every story. Without it, a reader couldn’t enter the writer’s world. So Tolkien clearly told his story very well, as he captured the attention of his readers and my dentist, so much so, the dental professional searched for other books that were similar. So, it’s important to tell a story well.
The next question for the author to respond to might be this: How to write a scene, capturing the setting for the reader. A pondering for another day. 🙂