Recently I have spent a lot of time travelling both nationally and internationally. In the last four weeks I have been to New Orleans, Skegness, London, Southampton and back to London, where I am currently staying. This has involved trains, planes, cars, buses, horse drawn carriages, rickshaw, monorail and even a vintage bus. It has certainly been an experience and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
So why am I giving you a rundown of my movements and travelling arrangements? What has this got to do with writing I hear you ask? At first glance, very little. However, deeper scrutiny and skilful interrogation will reveal the full story. Many of the places I have visited have involved writing and/or meeting readers. I have had several events in these places. I was on a panel at Bouchercon in New Orleans. This was a crime writing/reading convention and will be the subject of another blog. Suffice to say it was an experience which I would love to repeat. London took me to an Association of Christian Writers Day. Southampton took me to a high school where I was doing an author visit. Back in London I am going to a day on Forensic Pathology on Tuesday. So chock full of events for an author.
However, travelling is so much more than this. It is a chance to people watch and to take in the surroundings. It is a chance to flesh out characters, to observe the way people move and talk. Their actions and gestures and the inflections in tone. It is a chance to see how different nationalities act. All of this can be used in writing to make it stronger and more realistic. Ten hours in an airport in New York really focusses the mind and provides a lot of rich material.
Throughout my travels I took numerous photographs. The vintage bus ride and the monorail allowed me to take photos from a higher vantage point. When you really take notice it is amazing what you can see and what you remember. How about a topiary of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. I kid you not. I've taken photos in the rain, in the sun, of clouds, trees and terrain. These can be used to refer back to and as a guide, again to enrich writing.
So what about the travail part of my tale. I have been in London today and it was packed. Everywhere I went there were people, more people than I ever remember seeing in London. The tube trains were packed and then I had to get a bus to my final destination. They crammed as many people on as possible and off we set. The travail was not the amount of people. This can be chalked up to experience and again used to develop atmosphere in writing. The travail was the four young adults who proceeded to screech in my ear for the whole journey. One of the young women had a rucksack on her back and she didn't take it off. She then proceeded to bang me in the face with it every few minutes. Even when the bus emptied, as in the picture above, and there was a free seat, she still stood beside me. This was my breaking point but I kept calm. How will this help my writing. As a crime writer there is always a place in my next book. Or you can chalk it up to experience and file it away to use. Possibly the better option.
So my advice to any writer is to make the most of every experience, take note, take notes and enrich your writing in the process.
Wendy H. Jones is the author of the best selling DI Shona McKenzie Mystery series of crime novels set in Dundee. The Dagger's Curse, the first book in her Fergus and Flora, Young Adult Mystery series was released on 10th September, 2016. She also has one non fiction book, Power Packed Book Marketing: Sell More Books. You can find out more on her:
Amazon Author Page