Sunday, June 05, 2011

"Things That Fascinate Me When I Read and Write Fiction..."

Our main computer crashed this week. While I'm waiting for its healing (we have a good friend who is working to recover the data this week) I'm on another computer, the one that soon *will* be my main computer. It's also the one I used the last time our other computer crashed. Diving into documents, I found a few things I wrote and saved last summer, including this meme.

I can't remember where I found it, but I liked the idea. It was fun to revisit the list today too!


Things That Fascinate Me When I Read and Write Fiction

Moments of decision. I am always at my deepest attention when I get to a place in a story where a character faces a moment of clear decision. Forks in the road excite me.

Names. Character names, place names, explanations for why something or someone is named what they’re named. People who live up to their names, and those who don’t.

Quirky little towns with a cast of somewhat eccentric characters.

Descriptions of landscapes, especially specific flora and fauna.

Train rides, or other moments where people can contemplate the world passing by.

Physical journeying, especially through forests or mountains.

Music or poetry, especially when they’re woven seamlessly into a story.

Interesting collections (and characters who collect things).

American history, particularly interesting tidbits involving presidential or pioneering history.

Descriptions involving color.

People sitting around talking…just talking…the way real people do.

Sudden epiphanies.

Mysteries, especially ones involving the past.

Unlikely groups of people becoming friends, forging a team, or becoming a community. The more misfits the merrier.

Meals. I’ve already mentioned that I love it when people sit and talk, or have sudden epiphanies, or forge community. Even better if those things happen over food, especially if it’s described so well I can practically smell it or taste it.

Lost things becoming found. Lost people ditto.

Allusions to other books I’ve read and loved. I always feel much closer to a character if s/he has read and enjoyed the same books I have.

Biblical themes, allusions or names.

Two characters who showcase contrasting traits.

Characters who make me laugh because they’re ridiculous and pretentious but don’t realize they are.

Time travel. It drives me crazy, especially when not handled well, but it also thoroughly intrigues me…and always has. I’ve been nibbling at writing time travel stories since I was about seventeen, but I’ve never fully taken the dive.

Narrators whose voices feel so real and authentic I can hear them in my head.

Romance, especially when it’s completely subsidiary to other issues in the books, and when it sneaks up on the characters themselves. Good, believable obstacles (emotional or otherwise) that need to be resolved before two characters can come together.

Family history.

Family jokes and sayings.

Allusions to world history or church history, especially if it’s an era I’m especially interested in.

Ancient times.

Celtic saints.

Grandmothers. Grandfathers.

Old and young generations needing to learn how to communicate.

Medieval ethos, especially if there are going to be battles.

Talking animals. They’re often so much wiser than we are.

Stars/astronomy. Characters who like to stargaze.

Wise mentor figures.

Moments of pity and charity for fellow creatures, especially when you least expect it.



Puns and wordplay.


Erin said...

Such a wonderful and comprehensive list that I really can't think of anything to add. So agreed with you on these! And "the more misfits the merrier" - such a wonderful phrase to describe so many of my favorite stories. From Winnie the Pooh and M*A*S*H to LOST and Harry Potter, so many of the stories I love involve ragtag groups of people (or animals) with very distinct and often contrasting qualities working together in spite of their differences.

The food thing reminds me of Redwall. Oh, how hungry it makes me to read those books... Definitely agreed on the characters liking the same books I do. I bond with real people over that sort of thing, so it definitely works with characters too! And I love the kind of romance you describe too. I love stories where different elements are mixed in equal measure - adventure and romance and comedy and mystery... Those are great. And I adore wise mentors!

Hope that you can return to computer-land again soon!

Beth said...

Thanks, Erin! I've really missed computer time this week, though the unlooked for media fast hasn't been all bad. :) Hope to be up and running (and fully connected to internet again) by beginning of next week at the latest!

And I'm glad you resonated with these. I'd almost forgotten this list -- I did it so long ago. I do remember I kept thinking of one more thing to add.

Misfits -- especially when they come together and form community -- is always a winning story element for me!

I've not yet read Redwall, though I keep meaning to. My niece just loves those books.