clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Friday, October 25, 2013

Completely Nuts

At left, pecans.

Elizabeth Spann Craig - linked in the right column as Mystery Writing is Murder - has a delightful blog post about the south, things southern, and writing.

Two of my favorite southern things are pecans, and Savannah. Preferably, pecans in pie in Savannah.

I really can't eat pie any more. I've hit my lifetime limit. Pecans though - they're still a treat.

Elizabeth was writing in her post about regional settings. This struck a real cord with me for I have set the latest WIP in Western Kansas and then populated the draft with characters from the setting without giving adequate attention to the particulars of the setting which might make it immersive and attractive to readers. I have left out the charm.

Every place has charm though not every place is charming.

Example? Manhattan in the 80's before the clean sweep actions following the Koch administration. I know Ed ran under the "law and order" platform but the endemic corruption of the five boroughs lasted too long to clean-up and the City was cesspool for the first half of the decade, for sure. I can't speak of the late 70's but the national reputation wasn't much better.

Now, New York has been the murder capital of America my whole life until Chicago regained its rightful place as the land of death in 2012.  Center of trade, center of murder. It happens.

Anyway, New York being a cesspool had charm. It was called grit in novels. Did you want to live there? Not if you had kids.

Grinnell, Iowa is charming. It's also home to Grinnell College. It has little charm.

There is a means of incorporating enough of the local setting in the novel to allow characters the traction to stand. They stand in contrast or in sympathetic reflection of the setting; but, they need the details to do either.

I've left out the Czech festival and Das Koelling Haus and the Bunker Hill cafe. I've left out the Home in Hays. I've left out all but the I-C Bar and Laundromat in Natoma. I've left out the cobblestones in Russell and the dips in the road instead of curb and guttering with storm sewers.

I've left out post rock.

How could I have done these things? I must have been nuts. I made a pie of a noel and left out the treats. Otherwise, it's just molasses, butter, and sugar in a shell with rum.

I have work to do. I better get writing. First I'm going to the kitchen and raiding the pecans. They're brain food, I tell you.

I hope you're writing. I'm eating pecans.

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