Welcome back to Author Diaries, or if you are a first-timer, just plain welcome. This blog, at least until it wears you and me down, is a diary of my endeavor to write my second adult novel. I am not so much revealing the story as I am attempting to document the step-by-step process of writing it. I remind you that I am not a professional so you can try this at home with little risk and, likewise, probably achieve little success. As they say…it is what it is. Okay, upcoming is my traditional introductory line, if you can call a third time “traditional…”
When we last left our hero—again, that’s me—he took us through the second chapter of the book (if you need to catch up, simply scroll down to the previous two blogs). One thing I forgot to tell you about is a tactic I am using to keep the war present in the reader’s mind. At the beginning of every chapter is an obit of a local soldier/sailor who has been killed in battle. These are displayed as newspaper obits from the local town paper and the subject is always the son of a town family. Now, while the newspaper is fictitious, as are all the names of the soldiers and their families, the World War II events in which they have died are real. I have to make sure that the timing of the war event and its subsequent death of a local son is consistent with the actual timeline of my story. So, this tactic serves two purposes. First, it keeps the war ever present and, second, it reinforces the forward pacing of the book.
Chapter 3 is where I take all the generalities of the two lead characters and the environment in which they live and begin to hang some meat on them. It’s easy to establish the romantic link between Robert and Sharon. That has been done in a few brief paragraphs in the previous two chapters. Easy. Now, I need to “prove it” so to speak.
I conjure up a romantic adventure on the river. This takes care of several elements I need to build on. As I said, I want to actually show some romance between our two lovers and I want to spend some time describing their lifestyle and environment. It is hard to avoid the Chesapeake Bay and all its tributaries when you are born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Any kid who lives here has probably been on the water as much as land. He/she knows how to swim, crab and boat at an early age. Does this apply to every kid who lives on the Eastern Shore? No. But it does to a good number of youngsters, especially back in the 1940’s when life was a lot simpler and kids didn’t have TV, cell phones and computers.
Robert and Sandra borrow his uncle’s skiff (that’s a small boat common to the river) and go up the Corsica River to a small secluded side tributary. Here they tie up at an old boatshed. Boatsheds, or boathouses, were common on the Chesapeake. A boatshed is merely a little “garage” built around a dock in which you store a boat and protect it from the elements (see picture above). I have developed this boatshed for two purposes. One, it establishes the couple’s hideaway where they can go and be alone and talk, make out, whatever (hey, didn’t you and your high school lover have, or wished you had, such a place?!). Next, I need a location that the story will return to later and this works just fine. Originally, I had envisioned this as an old abandoned rural barn—you know, the old dilapidated ones you see in some rural areas. Many had “Chew Mail Pouch” advertising painted on a side or roof. My boatshed works even better because the river is so much a part of the lifestyle of my story.
There are three other things I “install” in this chapter, two necessary, the other merely embellishment. I need to make the point that Sandra’s younger sister, Louise, is a typical pesky younger sister who likes to hang around when her sister’s boyfriend is present. I expand on this to include the fact that Louise may even have a crush on Robert. Again, this is something that will make sense later in the book so I plant the seed here.
The second “installation” deals with reinforcing what good kids Robert and Sandra are and, despite some heavy romantic moments, they know when to stop, just like we all did when we were 17, right? ….right? Uh-huh.
The final add-on in this chapter is that I have Robert and Sandra go crabbing. This offers the reader a glimpse of rudimentary crabbing technique that all kids learned on the Chesapeake, famous for its blue crabs. This serves as simply more “goo” about their lives and where they live.
I’m still attempting to do a lot of setup work in this chapter. The trick is to take care of the necessary items I have to embed in the story and, at the same time, keep it moving so the reader is motivated to continue on. Easier said than done. At this point, I need readers to feel they now have a stake in this book and they are going to stick around to see what happens…sorta like this blog, huh?
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Marc Kuhn is the author of three books. Recently published is an adult historical novel, THE POPE’S STONE. The other two books are for children: NEVER GOOSE A MOOSE…And a bunch of other things you should never do!; and ABOUT A FARM, lessons for life regardless of where you live.
All three books are available at amazon.com and each has its own .com website under its title.
All editorial material in this blog, other than illustrations, is copyright Marc L. Kuhn, 2013. Duplication of any kind without the expressed consent of the author is prohibited.