Thursday, June 27, 2013

God turned a season of burnout in my life into a sudden bend in the writing road. That virtual curve led me from life as a nonfiction editor and writer to the “Dark Side” of writing fiction.

Novel writing demanded a new set of skills, mastering things like subplots and layers and description and dialogue – both internal and conversational – and Voices of Truth and Voices of Passion. There’s a lot of “chatter” in fiction. I had a lot to learn if I was going to do this right. After all, my goal wasn’t to wander around lost in the darkness.

And so I made a strategic decision: I would write contemporary romance, not historical. If I wrote about now – the world I live in – then I’d avoid hours of researching clothes and food and cultural mores. That way, I could focus on mastering the rules of the writing road for a novice novelist.

Brilliant move, yes?

Well, no and yes.

Turns out, writing contemporary romance doesn’t exempt you from research. I live now, but that doesn’t mean I know everything about today – or the past five years, for that matter. I am a writer – and a wife and a mom. However, not all of my characters are writers, wives and moms. Professions for pretend people require research – as do locations and hobbies, among other things.

Even so, I’m satisfied with my choice to write romances based in the here and now of Colorado. I love that I’m immersed in my imaginary characters’ Storyworlds.  And if I need to do research, it’s no more than a walk around the block or day trip away.

When I needed to describe what my heroine in Catch a Falling Star saw from her west-facing floor to ceiling windows, I looked out my windows and watched the sun set behind the Front Range. I also accessed some of the hundreds of photographs of Colorado sunrises and sunsets I have stored on my computer.   

One of my characters in my debut novel, Wish You Were Here, liked to run in Garden of the Gods, a public park – and national landmark. I grabbed my camera and invited my husband to walk with me through this beautiful locale a mere fifteen minutes from our home. As we walked and talked, I paused and snapped photographs of the towering red rocks – and the lone white one. As we passed tourists and families and runners and spotted the occasional climber ascending a rock face, I reminded myself what my imaginary character might see as he ran through the park. 

Made up characters have to eat and drink just like real people do … well, you know what I mean. The well-known Craftwood Inn was the backdrop for a pivotal scene in Catch a Falling Star. Featuring a wide-range of game, it’s one of my husband’s favorite restaurants. We’ve eaten there a number of times. Even so, to describe the interior and the meal, I went to the restaurant’s website and viewed photographs and a current menu. 

For Catch a Falling Star, I knew I wanted a military hero. I opted to make Griffin Walker a fighter pilot because Warren, one of my husband’s best friends, flew A-10s. Since we live all of 10 minutes from the U.S. Air Force Academy, it was easy to include that Griffin was an Academy graduate. Before polishing a scene where Griffin revisits the Academy for the first time since he graduated, my husband and I walked the exact spot my fictional character walked as he pondered his life choices. And yes, I carried my camera, asking my husband questions to flesh out the scene because he’s also an Academy grad. 

Colorado is over 100 million square miles, and is home to more than 5 million people. With the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, locations like Denver and Estes Park – not to mention Telluride and Aspen – and landmarks such as the Olympic Training Center and Mesa Verde National Park, I’ve just begun to explore the novel possibilities of my home state. My goal? To take my
readers along with me as I follow my imaginary characters along on their adventures!

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” After being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she'd never write fiction, Beth's second inspirational contemporary romance novel, Catch a Falling Star, released May 7, 2013 from Howard Books. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy (MBT), best-selling author Susan May Warren’s writing community. Connect with Beth at 

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow to enter to win a free copy of Beth's latest release, Catch a Falling Star!

1 comment :

  1. Interesting post--reminded me of my one vacation in Colorado.


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