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Posts Tagged ‘On-Writing’

As the saying goes “the devil’s in the details”.

When, writers of historical fiction, put words to paper, they bear the responsibility to transpose their readers to the time period their story relates to. This doesn’t mean telling them it’s 1776 – it means transporting them to 1776, making them feel it, live it, and be a part of it – having them jump up and march along with the fyfe and drum.

If only done on the macro level, the characters are superficial and transparent. The reader doesn’t feel authenticity and sees through the ruse. To lift the characters off the pages and bring them into the minds and hearts of the reader, the writer must work on the micro level—down in the trenches – with the details. And, here he must tread carefully, for it can easily be overdone. Too many details are overpowering and will bog a story down quicker than a hippo wallowing in molasses. Inserting a few carefully selected details, in a natural way, so as not recognizable as being inserted, will unconsciously, allow the reader to live them.  This is where the writer’s art comes in to play, weaving the facts and substance of the era into the spirit and essence of the story, putting the reader into the story’s setting as witness to the action.

For every word of detail the writer puts to paper, a hundred words were researched, reviewed and revised. Each sentence represents hours of background investigation, study and learning about the times, people, environment and cultures of the era.

If a writer’s passion is the blood flowing through his veins – then research is the muscle that forms his flesh.

During the writing of ‘Journeys across Niagara’ (formerly ‘Bridges – a Tale of Niagara’),  I traveled down many roads of research. Not so much for the main story line of Kevin and his friends living in Niagara Falls during the ‘60s, (having lived that era myself – I was my own research), but for the historical stories embedded in the novel. Encompassing four actual events, covering over 200 years of history in the Niagara Region, and crossing lines of culture, nations and habitat, each story required separate journeys of research and investigation. The stories are separated by many decades, in a rapidly developing part of the New World, undergoing major political, societal and cultural change. The world of the English drummer boy and the Iroquois brave in 1763 was a different world from the world of slavery and abolition found in Lizzie’s story of 1859. Conversely, The Hermit of Niagara lived on top of Niagara Falls in 1831, while the only instance of Niagara Falls stopping was in 1848, a mere 17 years apart, yet significant changes had occurred in the Niagara Frontier, due to the advent of the Erie Canal and the introduction of the railroads along with a spreading population, radically affecting the culture of the people. (See “Was there a Hermit of Niagara?” post on the right hand side.)

Research is the mantra of the historical fiction writer. It is hard work and takes considerable time but it’s as crucial to success as the reentry heat shields are to the space shuttle. I often wonder how earlier writers researched their subjects and eras. (hmm, could be a story there in the making.)

“To where do we go?” the writers asked. They went to the libraries and to building personal acquisitions of books and writings. Yes, long, hard, tedious work, not to mention, costly but worth the effort and cost.

Today, all that’s changed, writers have the advantage of the internet. Call up any subject or key word and information is immediately at your fingertips. Images, words, histories, background, essays and opinions—lots of opinions. This is a huge advantage for the modern writer, but I also see a snare lying in wait for us. As wide and as deep as the internet is, it only coughs up what someone has put in it. And those things are repeated – over and over. The internet fools us into thinking we can click on any subject and then, magically and instantly, we are ‘well informed’ and ‘all knowing’ about that subject. It has the potential to ‘Wikipedia’ an entire population, on a global scale, with a ‘one-click’ mentality, regarding any particular subject.

That’s one scary thought! The same, singular knowledge and information is put out and repeated to all who punch in a keyword or subject and most inquiries stop at that level. Much of this information has already been filtered and is steeped in ‘opinions’, before we ‘surf’ through it, filtering and discarding along the way. We, too easily, fail to genuinely dive into the heart of the matter, as true research demands. With enough repetitions and enough people reading the same things without rebuttal and opposing views and insights, we begin forming a global community of keyboard punchers who think along the same lines. And we then put our faith in it – “I read it on the internet, so it must be true.”   There is a great risk of an unconscious ‘dumbing down’ of the entire world concerning any given subject of history – like-minded regurgitating with like-minded. Understandings about people and events can easily become condensed down to a singular ‘common’ or ‘general’ opinion, and we all know, there is nothing ‘common’ or ‘general’ concerning people. People are unique, diverse and always at emotional states with one another, whether loving or hating one another. And history is nothing more than a reflection of those people and those emotions. And make no mistake about it, we must fully understand and know all the details of history or the past will overtake the future.

Think for a second, what power true censorship would have over this medium. The world’s understanding of history would be revised and reshaped to conform to the political or social designs of those doing the censoring. This isn’t fantasy or paranoia talk, for we know all too well that such things have happened down through history by governments, religions and organizations burning, rewriting and revising history for their own purposes and agendas. It’s not inconceivable or preposterous to think it could happen with the internet and we mustn’t be complacent– for there are governments, around the globe, imposing censorship and monitoring the internet as I write.

True research goes beyond the internet and dives into the heart, fiber and cellular DNA of the matter. We, as writers, owe it to our readers and to those who went before us, to embrace research with both arms wide open, welcoming the joy of bringing history to life.

“To where do we go?” the writers ask. We go to the libraries and to building personal acquisitions of books and writings.  Yes, long, hard, tedious work, not to mention costly but worth the effort and cost.

Gee – I guess not all that much has changed after all.

Until Next Time:

 Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

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The year was 1976, America was relishing in its Bicentennial anniversary of independence, and I found myself in a musty antique shop, browsing among the discarded treasures of generations gone by. There, in a small offshoot room, hanging on a crowded wall, suspended amongst pictures, tapestries, murals, and rick-rack, I spied an old picture. It was a Stereoview, taken around 1890 by the famous George Barker. Stereoviews were the rage around the turn of the century, consisting of two almost similar views of the same thing, mounted side-by-side, in one frame. When fitted into a special, wooden viewer and held up to your eyes, it created a single picture with a stereo effect to it. The picture on the wall was of the ice bridge of Niagara Falls.

It fascinated me, both with the idea of the mighty Falls frozen completely over and hundreds of those old-time people walking around on it, and because it brought back memories of seeing a similar ice bridge myself when I was a kid, growing up in Western New York, in the ‘60’s.

Niagara Falls! The water—the roar—the mist—the smell—the power—the mystery. Niagara is a mystic enchantment that pulls people into its swirling mists and absorbs them into its magic. Niagara is a gift to man, declaring the glory of creation and thereby the surety of a Creator. Surrounded by history and steeped in lore of fascinating legends and people, it’s not only the Falls, but the rivers—the gorge—the mighty lakes, all splendid, magnificent and oozing with life. Take a walk through the Niagara Gorge (but please, not in the winter like my ‘boys’ did) and I guarantee you’ll come out a different person than when you went in. You’ll meet God in the Gorge (See post titled:  “Come Walk with Me”  at right.)

And then—the 60’s. It’s strange for me to think of the 60’s as nostalgia, but in fact they are. The 60’s were special years, creating a decade, unique and stand alone in our history.  In 1961, the world feared atomic war and we built backyard bomb shelters and we had ‘A’ bomb drills hiding under school desks, while spewing the illusion of being at peace with ourselves and the world. We felt ‘everything had been done and invented’ and there was nothing left for us to do. Meanwhile, the decade was on the verge of being the most dynamic, world-changing decade history had ever seen. Communications, civil rights, technology, economics, drugs, assassinations, space travel, society values and wars all around the globe, exploded literally overnight, turning America, and the world, upside down. The 60’s came in with the ‘Twist’ and bobby socks and left with us with VietNam and a man on the moon, leaving us in shock and yearning for those years when we wore bomber hats, drank hot chocolate and our only wars were snowball fights.

How much more inspiration would one need? A combination of a forbidden Niagara few people know about, coupled with the decade of the best and worse times in America. The ‘picture’ itself brought all this into focus for me, and I started writing.

I wanted to write about people who felt their life was unimportant, and didn’t know where they fit in. A decade when America was at its prime and at its worse, when young people thought everything had been done and there was nothing left for them to do, yet, aside from the Revolutionary War era itself, was the most revolutionary decade in American history.

Meanwhile, it’s no different from any other time, with people having the same needs, fears, joys and sorrows across the generations. All are ‘journeys’, traveling the same road, only in different times.

That was 1976 and I wrote 12 typewritten pages, put it aside and continued my own ‘journey’.

Fast forward 32 years and now it’s September 2008. I had just endured a personal loss and as a result was forced to sort out files of old papers. Buried among bill receipts, technical reports, letters and various doodlings, I came across 12 typewritten pages. They were yellowed, stained and crinkled when I held them. As I read them, I immediately grabbed a pen and began editing them. 350 pages later,Bridges – a Tale of Niagara was conceived and a year later gave birth to Journeys Across Niagara.  I give this child to you, with my wish that you enjoy reading it as much as I have in writing it.

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

—-Dk Levick

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“Come” He Said.

With those words, Peter climbed over the side of a boat, tossing and turning in rough seas, and walked on water!

A fascinating story.  Here – let’s read it together:

 22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

   29 “Come,” he said. 

   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said,“why did you doubt?”  

Matthew 14:22 (NIV)

It was a new beginning for Peter.

Peter was a fisherman. Uneducated, rough – living a hard life in a hard country at a hard time. His life changed and he became one of the most honored men in Christian (world?) history.  Why? Because he dared to step out of the boat – to take a step that defied logic – nature and life itself.

True – he faltered and began sinking, but with the help of his Lord – he survived. The point is – he took the step. The others didn’t – they remained inside the boat not having the strength or faith to step out. They seen Jesus and thought he was a ghost. Peter seen Jesus and said “me too!”

In today’s world of the shifting paradigm within the publishing and writing world – Indie authors are Peters.  They’re stepping out of the boat – they’re walking on water!

The publishing world is sitting in the boat saying it’s not possible – you can’t do that – you’ll sink and perish!  Then when they see it happening, they say “It’s not real! It’s a ghost – an apparition – a mirage.” And they tremble with fear.

Hello all my fellow Indie authors!  “Come on, don’t be afraid.”  Let’s step out of the boat.  “Ya wanna walk on water?”  Fun, huh?

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Check out my latest short story on Smashwords and Amazon:

“The Man in the Painting”

What is peace? and from where does it come?

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

dk Levick

 

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This weeks blog post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-licious Blog TourI am pleased to be on the tour along with some very interesting and informative writers. At the bottom of this post will be a listing of the addresses of the other bloggers discussing this weeks subject. I encourage you to visit them also.

Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoy it and sign up to follow it.

The topic for this week’s Blog-A-licious Blog Tour is:

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 “Writing To Me Is…”

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.…the tunnel is dark, long and narrow. The walls and ceiling drip with slime and an unhealthy gooey substance seemingly moving of it’s own will, while a green, stagnant substitute for water slouches loudly over my boots leaving a dirty, oily residue behind. The smells of mold and stagnation fill my nostrils and assaults my senses as my mouth puckers and crinkles against the bitter, metallic taste or the cavern.

My hands and arms bleed and sting from bumping against the sharp, craggy walls and my legs are stiff and sore from the running. But I cannot stop. I must keep moving back, ever back, deeper into the tunnel, further away from the light. It’s been so long since I’ve seen the light bathed in its radiance – reflected in its power.

I’ve forgotten the caress of the sun on my face.

How I long for the sun.

But I must keep moving deeper into the tunnel, deeper into the darkness – away from the beast.

(more…)

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This weeks blog post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-licious Blog Tour. I am pleased to be on the tour along with some very interesting and informative writers. At the bottom of this post will be a listing of the addresses of the other bloggers discussing this weeks subject. I encourage you to visit them also.

Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoy it and sign up to follow it.

The topic for this week’s Blog-A-licious Blog Tour is:

 “The Book that Inspires me the Most”.

Okay, dk – what book inspires you the most? Wow! That’s a tough one. Kinda like going to a Baskin’s Ice Cream parlor and having to choose one flavor for the rest of your life.

(more…)

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This weeks blog post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-licious Blog Tour. The topic for this week is “A  World without Books”.  I’m not going to talk about what a world would be without books as just think of ‘Hell’ and subject closed.  So I’m going to talk about the Paradigm that’s occurring in book publishing that is changing how we look at, feel and think about ‘books’ today with an opposite concern of a world of books without any controls on it.  Please see http://peacefrompieces.blogspot.com/ for the addresses of the other bloggers discussing this subject also.  Thank you and leave your comments and thoughts below.

Every week there’s a half a dozen blogs and articles written about the changing publishing world and the future of books. There are as many opinions as there are writers and they’re scattered across the landscape like Saguaro cacti in the deserts of the Southwest.

Will paper books survive? Will ebooks reign supreme? Will publishing houses go bankrupt? Will libraries close their doors? And on and on.

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“How you coming on your S&M challenges?” she asked.

S&M challenges? Wow! (Good looking lady to be dabbling in whips and leather.)

“I’m sorry, I’m not into that stuff.” I answered, backing away slightly, wondering if she had a spiked collar in her purse. “Don’t really need to, ya know?  Gotten along just fine without it for a whole lot of years now. “

“I’m speaking of ‘social media challenges’” she answered tartly, while her eyes quickly scanned, processed and compartmentalized me leaving a smirk on her face. This wasn’t going well.

(more…)

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