Sunday, August 11, 2019

Travel and Story: A Tale


by Jody Feldman

Once upon a time, there was a book idea that lived in and around the Port of Los Angeles. Sure, the story could have happened in Newport or New Orleans or New York, but the story’s spark ignited in LA.

In its infancy, the story traveled down the usual roads, anchored in character and theme and plot, but when it came to setting, it begged to be on the West Coast. The problem was, the author lived smack dab in the middle (phrase intended) of the United States.

How would the author make it real? How could she convince readers they were actually walking among the characters in the sun and the sea and salt air? How could she add those small, but vital impressions without soaking them in herself?

If only she’d known that her visit would spark a story, she would have taken pictures. She would have been more aware of her surroundings. She would have breathed in the smallest of details.

Instead, she did what could. She relied on her general memories. She relied on people who did live there, friends and family and strangers. She relied on Google Maps, and the ability to walk down streets, virtually. True, she couldn’t hear the sounds or feel the air or smell the smells herself as she wrote the scenes. She could only hope that she’d get every detail right.

That was truly important to her. She once saw a movie, set in her hometown, that got several details so flagrantly wrong, she couldn’t enjoy the story. If only the (much-heralded) director had done a little homework!

Aha! The author needed to do her homework! One day, preparation met opportunity. She smelled the smells, breathed in the vibes, walked the paths.

And now, she can begin to hope that the story will live happily ever after.

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