Monday, May 9, 2016

I Shall Not Forget: Writing What I Know

Fiction writers are told the best way to create good writing content is to start by writing what you know. 

I know rural living. I live in the woods on a dead end dirt road. I love having my feet in the grass, and my fingers in the flower gardens.

My fourth novel is in the the early stages of research and plotting. Writing what I know doesn't mean that I am placing my heroine in the woods at the end of a dirt road. But it does mean she's going to love flowers and fauna.

It so happens that the opening scenes of my story are set in the woods during the spring. So this week when I went walking with my husband in our woods, I was wondering what my heroine might have seen or experienced and how her surroundings might impact her story. I started snapping photos.


Wild Phlox

 Solomen's Seal


I've been walking these woods since I was old enough to stand up. I simply love the green wild plants and the way they show off God's creation! I decided my heroine will use a large volume of artistic reproductions of botanicals to teach her young charge about the forest. Next I embarked on making a Pinterest board for research ideas:Anne's Botanical Pinterest Board

Anyone studying botanicals and botany in the 17th, 18th, and 19th century didn't have Google search, or the iPhone camera I used to study my great finds. They drew their own and had them printed in volumes. What a lovely combination of the arts and science! That's a passion I can share with my heroine. 

The volumes of print botanical reproductions are fantastic collections of art. For instance, this
title page from The Compleat Florist from 1747, a gardening guide by an anonymous author containing 100 engraved hand-colored plates. Can you imagine engraving 100 of these and not taking credit? I had to wonder if it was a woman's handiwork.

One of my favorite memories is taking a hike through a cedar swamp in the northern woods of Michigan, not too unlike the climate of my story in Wisconsin. While hiking, my husband and I discovered a rare and protected blooming Lady Slipper. I was thrilled to find a print of this Lady Slipper while doing my research and can't wait to see how my heroine might include this in her story.

Jeanne Koch (after) 
G. Severeyns (chromolithographer) 
Ladies Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium) Botanical Prints 
from Les Cypripedi√©es 

 And look at this lovely unsigned rendition of blue Forget-Me-Nots: 

I can't wait to see where these Forget-Me-Not flowers fit into my heroines story. Last weekend when my daughter was home, she'd been given a package of Forget-Me-Not seeds. She and her Daddy scattered them in our wild flower garden. When she's off in Ireland for the summer, perhaps even for the year--I shall not forget...

So, writing what you know, means writing from your heart.
If my heroine shall not forget the young girl in her charge, I shall know how her heart feels when she discovers these blue beauties!

And even if there exists other stories where the heroine is all about botanicals, none of them shall have been from my heart. Only my heroine springs forth from what I know--and I know I shall not forget...

I shall not forget the bond between mother's and daughters.
I shall not forget the tie between beauty and love.
I shall not forget the yearning to touch creation.
I shall never forget the paths which I've walked
alone in the forest, with my love.

Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary


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