Story lessons from an iceberg

Taking a break from blogging has pros and cons. I’ve returned feeling rested and refreshed, but my mind is still focused on the many sights and sounds that filled my week away. So I’ll apologize in advance. We’re probably doomed to an abundance of cruising analogies here for the next little while.

Cruise 1

This past week provided opportunities for me to experience water in several of its forms. We didn’t get rain in any measurable amount, but there were a few sprinkles, and a morning of fog.

Cruise 6

Most days the ocean was remarkably calm, but there were occasional times of choppy waves and rolling swells.

Cruise 3

 

Cruise 2

The Pacific Ocean can be mighty chilly at times, but in the Gulf of Alaska there are places where it’s downright frigid.

Cruise 4

Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier is located in the northeastern section of Yakutak Bay, extending five miles across the end of Disenchantment Bay. Unlike most other glaciers that are receding, for the past century the face of the Hubbard Glacier has continued to advance. Chunks of ice regularly ‘calve’ from it, filling the water with mid-sized icebergs, along with smaller ‘bergy bits’ and ‘growlers’.

Cruise 7

Apparently the density of ice is less than that of sea water, so only about one-tenth of the volume of an iceberg is visible above the water.

Cruise 8

The seen and the unseen… how could they not bring a writing application to mind??? ;)

So much of the research, background and subtext that go into novel writing will never actually be seen by readers — or shouldn’t be — but will provide the foundation for a good story and give it stability. Whenever we’re tempted to reveal too much ‘fascinating’ information, we need to remember what happens when an iceberg drifts away from its source and warmer waters begin undermining the ice below the surface. When too much of the iceberg’s volume is above the water line, it eventually gets top heavy and flips over!

All those mottled and melted bits from the underside don’t have a lot of interest or substance. Imagine similar ramifications for a story. If you need more of a visual, drop an ice cube into a glass of water and then consider the importance of a good solid base.

I know, I know… I sometimes give my imagination too much free rein, but it bugs me when a writer top-dresses a story with too many details that were obviously gleaned during the research stage. How would you suggest utilizing interesting tidbits you’ve discovered, if they’re not going to add significantly to your plot?

~  ~  ~

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6 thoughts on “Story lessons from an iceberg

  1. Judith Robl says:

    Some of those bits might be used as red herrings if you are writing something in the mystery line.

  2. Welcome back. Those photos look really cold.

    I’m trying to weave interesting historical tidbits into this novel that may never get written–in objects and dialogue.

  3. territiffany says:

    I still struggle with how much information to drop and when. I like my reader to want to move forward, wondering, but not too much to frustrate them and give up.

  4. I’ve taken that ride and know how beautiful the water and the landscape is. And how breezy it can get. I feel like that when I’m reading more so than writing. Others often give me a chill with their ability to make the prose come alive. I know that’s not exactly what you mean, but it made me think of how grateful I am for so many gifted authors. You included.

  5. Carol says:

    I did read and appreciate your comments, Sandra, Terri and Joylene. I just didn’t get back here to respond promptly. My bad!!

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