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Writer’s Inspiration - - Special Places – Part Three
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Writers need to look to special places for settings for fiction, and sometimes creative nonfiction.

In the first two pieces reflecting on this, I dealt with the day-to-day kinds of places: a backyard barbecue, a freshwater beach in the first. And, then: what makes your hometown special: was it a factory town? A mill town? Unique in some way?

Here, I’m going to start to write about what for lack of a better word I will call more refined or more sophisticated places. These are the places we [or our families before we are old enough to drive ourselves] actively seek out.

These kinds of places, also, can form the setting of fiction or creative nonfiction.

And . . . I’m going to be so bold in this article as to say, in some instances, you can begin to think about such a setting for your fiction before you’ve ever visited the place in reality.

You can begin just as you do planning a vacation. By thinking about where you’d like to go and what you’d like to see, from a brochure.

A true setting, of course, benefits from an actual visit. But you can begin to plan and dream before you actually visit the location and adjust your vision accordingly after you have actually visited the place.

Distance does not limit you: A sought out special place can be a half hour’s drive away: or it can be a day’s flight away. It can be a short walk away, such as a special state park or other place of natural beauty.

For young writers, just starting out on their journey, I highly recommend that you start capturing a list of the special places you seek out such as on vacation with your families. This is an excellent use to make of a journal if you keep one. Start building a list of the places you think might inspire you to a fiction piece . . . or more than one . . . someday.

To get you started, I will give you a partial list of special places I have sought out for one reason or another over the years.

Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. This is a beautiful place, with splendid vistas. It also has marvelous history associated with it. For approximately a century of being known to the “white man,” Franconia Notch had the distinction of being home to the mountain ledge formation known as “The Old Man of the Mountains.” What many do not know is that several other profile formations exist in the nearby mountains: some observable from the public roadways, and some requiring a hike into the mountainous terrain. The Old Man figured in a story called “The Old Stone Face” by Washington Irving. Sadly, two or three years ago, the natural action of nature caused a collapse of this natural wonder literally overnight. Also in Franconia Notch you will find Echo Lake, Canon Mountain [with a tramway], and . . . at least the last time I visited . . . an abandoned site of an old resort/cabin village called Georgiana Falls. Another profile, Indian Head, is visible from one of the two most popular resort/lodging facilities in the Notch.

Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. Technically the other side of Franconia Notch, over the crest of this mountain, Sugar Hill has its own personality. For me, the attraction was an Inn that also boasted a stable where they rent out horses for trail rides. Allegedly, one of the rooms of the Franconia Inn is haunted, but I never got the low-down on that.

Lake Champlain. I enjoyed a few ferry rides on Lake Champlain, sometimes known as the United States’ “inland sea.”

These are a few among many places I have visited that could form the setting of a short story or novel . . . or part of one. Indeed, I did set a short story in Franconia Notch at that abandoned cabin/resort site.

Start compiling your own list in service of the fiction you will one day write.


Street Talk

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