We have heard of writers who write about locales they have never been to and still manage to convey a real experience. They seem to be able to immerse themselves in descriptions garnered from travel brochures and other vagabonds who have actually made the trip. I find this ability fascinating as the articles usually resonate as true. You do believe that a writer has been there.
It is obvious, that all writers who write murder mysteries have not actually experienced murdering someone. If they have, we are in real big trouble. Their research must be pretty amazing as they can describe a torture of a victim with credibility. They can make you feel the pain the person endures. You have little trouble seeing the murder on your mind. The autopsies they create seem genuine and maybe they have actually witnessed one. I would need to find the details elsewhere since I’m not that brave.
Planning a murder is another talent that must take great research to ring true. A deranged mind can possibly go beyond any normal brain for planning such brutal events, but how does a writer get inside their murderer’s head? I believe whenever you immerse yourself in writing, there must be a transfer of your mind to the character you are writing about. So many people do this well. I wonder if this is an innate skill or just takes lots of practice to do it convincingly. Some of us writers have naturally disturbing and devious minds. That must be a help when writing.
Writing about another era seems less daunting as there are so many historical references available to help you get the feeling and flavor of that time period right. Even historical novels could guide you with your setting, costumes and dialog. To feel authentic, I imagine those things must be just right.
For me, the books I enjoy have details that seem appropriate and authentic. When this isn’t the case, it is a jarring experience while your mind focuses on that wrong fact or element that does not fit correctly. It spoils your reading experience. It keeps you from enjoying the book.
When an author has nailed a time and place, suddenly everything seems real and we accept that this author is an expert. We feel we are reading something factual instead of a figment of the writer’s imagination.
The characters drawn, warts and all, are those that are believable. The too perfect character is as bad as the too villainous one. Every character must have both good and bad traits to make them seem real. The believable character is complicated much like any real person. A true character only comes across when they are neither all bad nor all good. I personally enjoy characters with strange little quirks that make you remember them. If the character traits are used wisely, you can identity which character is doing the talking immediately. That helps a lot when you have lots of characters to keep track of in a story. What often confuses me is the large numbers of characters and with various names such as in Russian novels. We, as writers, must make that more clear so the reader can follow the action with each individual in the book.
I would love to discuss these topics more with those of you doing fiction on a regular basis. Please comment.
Also would appreciate any followers as this new blog needs people to get it started.