One of my favorite tools to use in storytelling is incorporating elements of truth or history into the storyline. That being said, have you ever noticed that a half-truth is more convincing than a blatant lie? Any fictitious story that has a basis in reality is easier to get drawn into. Take, for instance, the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the science fiction classic by Mr. Steven Spielberg centering on a certain topographical location in America. You already know where, don’t you? Devils Tower in the state of Wyoming.
Ever since the release of the Spielberg epic, visitors coming to the state park in northeastern Wyoming stand in awe of the majestic monolith that fills the sky before them (some possibly even hoping to have a close encounter of their own kind). I’ve been there and have trodden where aliens have visited. I’ve been blessed to be able to hike the shortest of the trails (all by myself as my wife wanted no part of THAT adventure…) that encircles the tower. Guess what? Some of those shots in the movie from the tower area do not even exist! But, then again, some do. Do you think Mr. Spielberg (or an associate) visited the area before he put the film together? I would say it is a safe bet that the area around Devils Tower was heavily traversed by many a man (or woman) working on the project before a film crew was ever even assembled. Angle after angle poked, prodded, drawn by artists, visualized and charted, mapped and choreographed by countless folks sharing a single dream; To make a movie believable.
We, as authors, share the same responsibility/task as a movie production crew to make a story believable. Our tools may not be the same, but the idea, the goal is identical; To draw the reader (or audience) into a realistic three dimensional story. I, for one, believe that one of the most effective areas in which to get lost in viable research is still the good, old fashioned, local library. If you have the opportunity to go and personally research the area of where your story unfolds, it could be a fatal flaw NOT to visit the one place that holds all the hidden local history and folklore of your books landscape. Now, don’t get me wrong, the internet is a good tool, but sometimes it woefully lacks the personality, the flavor, the realism, of the story you are sculpting/creating in your mind and then putting together on paper (or screen).
Using truth to spawn fiction can be (and is) very effective. In my novel Hill of Great Darkness (WestBow Press) I used an ancient Native American Historical Site that stands smack-dab in the middle of America to create a backdrop for a future event. And I do mean stands… it is the largest hand built earthen mound in North America to be exact. Cahokia Mounds is an area just across the Mississippi river from St. Louis in the prairie land of Illinois. Rising one hundred feet and covering fourteen square acres at its base, Mound Thirty Eight is an enigma all on its own. Now, add to that the fact that the Mississippian Culture that built the mound simply vanished off the face of the Earth and you have the beginnings of a classic Science Fiction story.
Writing is so much fun! But…don’t forget to use it for the glory of your Savior. After all, He is the One Who gave you the imagination you have! So, write on, brothers and sisters!
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