Story Telling… by Nancy Brophy

We learn though action, but all experiences are not universal. My brother visited from Austin, Texas and last Monday morning we went to the Oregon Coast. His knowledge of the beach is the Gulf in June. Hot. Sunny. Tar, dead jelly fish, and sun-burns from frolicking on the beach.

But the Oregon weather was cold and rainy. The men (not him) were dressed in overalls, rubber boots, and flannel shirts. Sun-burns were unlikely and a lot of people were armed with shovels or had their arm buried to the shoulder in cold sand while digging for clams.

So when a book’s setting is June at the beach, what image do you visualize?

I am currently writing a story that changes locale. Think about the difference in weather in January between Chicago, Illinois – Rome, Italy – Washington DC, and Portland, Oregon. While I don’t exactly hate research, I don’t love it either. But some facts have to be accurate, but there is latitude. Today, only one week later the weather is 95 degrees and Portland is gritting its collective teeth to get through the five-day heat wave.

Emotions are more universal than calendar months. Even if you’ve never been angry enough to kill someone, you recognize anger in yourself. Or the first gut-wrenching stirrings of love. Was it love or the flu? In books we put our heroes and heroines though the wringer. While in real life we wouldn’t go through the agony. If a relationship is too much work, most of us simply move on.

Our job as writers is to tap into the universal emotions of the reader while telling a unique story or a fresh twist on an old tale. Writing takes a lot of focus. I marvel at the woman who became a best-selling author while mothering nine kids.

Computers and most appliances were designed for efficiency – time-saving devices for the modern family. If that is true, why am I busier than ever? Henry Ford designed the black Model T, then became annoyed with the American consumer who wanted it in blue or white. Foolish waste of money for an industry he’d invented.

Everything we do is like throwing a rock in a pond. To a point we can control the rock, but the ripples created take us places we never dreamed. One can’t tell how they will influence others, all we can do is put our words on paper and hope they are good enough.


Posted on July 1, 2013, in General and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I hear you on the efficiency of computers but being even more busy. I have a theory that whenever technology is introduced, we are expected to do more with the time we gave up. When washing machines became the norm in the 1950s, women were saved from hand washing and wringing and had “all this time on their hands.” In reality, I think what happened is that things that were ignored before, like ironing, were now attended to in the saved time.

    The same with computers and electronic communication. It used to be, in the dark ages, I would actually hand write letters with careful penmanship and send them off, patiently waiting weeks or a month for a reply. Now I expect a reply (particularly from businesses) within 24 hours. It used to be that I would actually talk on a phone with distant grandparent or a friend who had moved to another state. I would save my babysitting money and walk to the pay phone at the corner market (we had a basic shared line plan with no long distance growing up). I don’t even know if I could find a PayPhone these days. Now I communicate with family and friends via Facebook–even email is passe with them.

    For me, electronic communications has changed my expectation around patience/waiting. Not only do I expect others to respond quickly, but I feel the same pressure on myself to do so as well. It has taken me a long time to be able to say, “I don’t have to be checking my email or FB or twitter every minute just in case I miss something.” It’s taken a lot of willpower to set aside certain, very limited, times of day when I let the computer become my communication channel. As long as I can stick to a schedule, I can slow down a bit and write. I can also slow down and actually “talk” face-to-face or on the phone with people. It is a uniquely freeing feeling.


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