I just got back from vacation (a trip to Alaska) and while I was on holiday, I thought about all the very cool and different places I’ve gotten to see. I considered how it’s affected my writing. I thought a little more about why I consider it important for authors to travel and see as much of the world as they can. Even if all they can do is a day trip to a town they haven’t been to before.
For me, I’ve been able to incorporate these various places into my stories and it gives me a point of reference for different characters and places my characters might go. To be in a new place is so much better than looking up a place on-line and reading about the place or viewing other people’s photos. When you travel you experience the location with all your senses. Your sense of smell, taste, sight, sound and touch. Actually, being in these places and thinking about them you might remember a great detail that you can later throw into your novel. It might be a small thing but it creates a much richer world for your reader.
In my life I’ve been very lucky. For one job I had to travel a lot and because of that travel I’ve been to Korea, Japan, Germany, Canada and all over the US. I never got to explore these places for long, but I got a sense of the locations. If I want a character to be from Seoul, I can have that character talk about the traffic and how being in a car accident is different on the streets of Seoul then on the streets here in San Jose (basically whoever yells loudest in Seoul is the one who wasn’t at fault. It was very strange to see, but that is how it worked. At least according to my co-worker and the taxi driver.) The character can also talk about how busy the city is even in the middle of the night, and how you will find a five-thousand year temple along a busy street between to office buildings (I wish I still had a picture of that).
In my personal life I’ve continued my quest to travel as much as I can. I’ve been to Hawaii, Alaska, through the Panama Canal, Cartagena, Belize, Mexico, and various Caribbean Islands. Because of this travel I’ve been able to scuba dive in Mexico and in the US Virgin Islands expanding my author knowledge base (the photos below are when we went scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.) I’ve yet to create a character who scuba dives but the knowledge is there as is the experience to fall back on for when I do.
As I mentioned I’ve been lucky to travel. However, I don’t want you to feel that you have to go on crazy long trips or anything like that. Get out there and explore you local area. There are amazing places to visit everywhere. Living in the Bay Area, I’ve explored a lot of my surroundings on day trips. It’s remarkable what you can find and who you can meet just an hour away from your home. So, go out and experience it.
I know writers tend to be solitary creatures wanting to stay home and read and write. Explore their own worlds of imaginations, but if they get out and observe a bit more of their world consider how much richer the worlds and the people you create can become.
In my SciFi series “A New World” (I still don’t have a release date, but I assure I’m working on it) I’ve had to create a rich and culturally unique alien race. I could have never done it as well and as easily as I did without all the traveling I’ve done. I pulled food I’ve eaten and customs I’ve experienced from various places. I used legends from some of the cultures I’ve seen and modified them to fit my story. It’s really helped to create a wonderful culture of alien of course that will be for the reader to decide, which I hope will be soon.
Additionally, how all my traveling helped me was to create a home world for my aliens. I pulled from some of the various locations and cities I’ve been to and altered these places to become places where my aliens are from (Cartagena - left, Hawaii - below, and the Virgin Islands to be precise). Personally it works quite nicely for me and it wouldn’t be nearly as vivid and as deep if I haven’t had these experiences to draw on. I doubt most will notice, but if you pay attention you’ll pick up subtle nods to these locations.
Lastly, why I deem that all authors need to travel, and this is important, it’s because travel is fun and authors deserve it. Writing isn’t easy and authors need the break and the treat. So, go out and explore give yourself that moment to recharge and experience the world.
Until next time remember I love to get your feedback tell me about a place you traveled to. Let me know what you like or don’t like about my blog. Is there something you want me to talk about? Also, if you haven’t done so subscribe for updates. I don’t spam you and I don’t sure your info.
Have a great week everyone.