Monday, May 2, 2011

Hiking, Little Dongly Things, and Plants in Your Writing

The kids and I went with our homeschooling group on a sunny hike today through a grassland area just a stone's throw from my house. Okay, maybe I'd have to throw the stone, run up to it, throw it again, run up, and throw it yet again. Mangini Ranch is owned and maintained by a conservation group called Save Mount Diablo.

I intended to offer you a beautiful photo spread illustrating purple needle grass, California poppies, live oaks, and the rare hospital canyon larkspur. But for the want of the correct "little dongly thing" (to quote Douglas Adams) I cannot show you these things. All of those photos will stay snug in my camera until I locate the cord that matches the camera.

The Writery Part of this Post
Apart from taking in the beauty of the East Bay area of California, the invigorating exercise, and the pure joy of back to back sneezes (yay allergies), guided hikes such as this one are research. For my WIP, I need to know the native plants of California, what plants where introduced by the early Spanish settlers, and what plants are recent additions to the landscape. I can look all of that up in books, sure- but to walk in nature is to walk into my novel. I can wander the rolling hills and be with Poppy and Rick (my characters) in their travels.

How about you, do you take your research on the road? Do you need to take plants and animals into consideration when you're writing? If you're writing historical fiction, you'll want to learn about the plants that grew in an area at the time you're writing.

If you're inventing a land in fantasy or science fiction, you can take ideas from real nature and "create" plants. Think about the climate on your fictional planet. Is it tundra? Research real life tundra vegetation. Is it desert? Go out to a desert and get inspired to create realistic yet fictional plants. Joshua Tree National Park would be a good start. If that place doesn't look alien, I don't know what does.

Joshua Tree National Park


Tony said...

Yes, I do like to get out for research. I've often considered native plant life for stories too. I *try* to be accurate with that sort of thing. Not sure I'm always successful though.

Joylene Butler said...

I'm still giggling over the missing cord. I made the mistake once of putting every single cord in a box. Then I needed one. What a nightmare. Then I decided I'd put them in a basket. Pulled out the one I needed only to have it tangled with 5 others. Now I have a coloured tag for each cord that's wrapped in an elastic. It's not perfect, but...

My stories in and around the area I live so planting plants is relatively easy. Beware of plant experts. I had a Tamarack in mind but somehow stated another tree in its place. Yes, the plant expert emailed. LOL. But he liked my book.

Great post, Amanda.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

@Tony~ All we can do is try. As long as it's a good story, I'm sure our readers will be forgiving.

@Joylene~ I love the cord tagging idea. I'll do that, as soon as I have all my cords in order.
LOL- the plant expert. Well, he's probably the only one who noticed. Glad he enjoyed your bood anyway. As I said, most of our readers will be forgiving of little mistakes.

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