The latest prompt for the Author Blog Challenge asks what we love to read and how does that feed our writing? Good question. I read voraciously, and the resource that feeds my writing most these days is…wait for it…Wikipedia. How did writers write before Wikipedia? I think they actually had to go out the front door and into the world and, let’s face it, no one wants that. At least I don’t and I don’t understand those who do. I’m cozy in my fortified writing bunker, thank you very much.
I’m one of those weirdos who gets lost in dictionaries and encyclopedias. (If you read this blog, you probably are, too.) I look up one thing and get distracted by all the other delicious stuff in there. As I was researching my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, I consulted The Mob Dictionary, documentaries, a friend who trains SWAT, an ex-military friend and various books on the mob. It was Wikipedia that yielded my main character’s background and contributed to the verisimilitude the story demanded.
I wanted Jesus to be an enforcer who wants out of the mob. I had to give him a back story that made the reader understand why he is the way he is. I needed him to be an outsider, so he’s a Cuban among native hispanic New Yorkers. His journey to Florida is sad and, once he arrives, his story becomes more tragic. The key to the character was his childhood and it was Wikipedia where I happened upon more information about the Cuban migration to the United States. Truth gave rise to more believable lies as Fate (um, I am Fate) dumped Jesus from the roaster into the (mostly) proverbial fire. He’s a smart ass, but not as smart as he thinks. He’s more funny, clever and desperate than he is tough. Wikipedia was the seed that led me to understand why the character worships the love of his life the way he does. Like dominoes, one idea leads to another idea which leads to another idea which reveals a pattern which gives rise to a plot. Powered by curiosity, simply traipsing through Wikipedia gave me a book that will be a series I’m really excited about. The last edits are arriving and the graphic designer is working on the cover as I write this. Hoo-bloody-ha!
If you’re stuck, blocked or just noodling, use non-fiction to amp up your fiction and go wander Wikipedia.
- Author Blog Challenge: Writers to adore (chazzwrites.com)
- The Author Blog Challenge: My Earliest Memory of Writing is the Typebrighter (chazzwrites.com)
- Deciding WHAT to write (familybugs.wordpress.com)
- Author Blog Challenge Day 1: In the Beginning (thearkside.wordpress.com)
- Author Blog Challenge Day 2 – With Class (thearkside.wordpress.com)