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?

~  ~  ~

Returning to Reality

I’ve decided sailing and celebrating are an ideal combination. We don’t normally do a lot of either. In fact, we’ve only been on one other cruise and that was also a celebration (DH’s retirement). This past week we indulged in the luxury of outrageous pampering accompanied by entertainment, decadent meals and breathtaking scenery as we celebrated our 50th anniversary on board a Celebrity cruise ship bound for Alaska.

Anchored at Sitka, AK

Anchored at Sitka, AK

It was a writer’s delight of sights, sounds and smells. My favourite was the salty tang of sea air that whipped past me as I admired the ever-changing view from our balcony.

Sun-sparkled Ocean

It competed with the iciness of air that flowed from the magnificent Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America.

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier Closeup

Sparkling wave crests lit by diamonds of sunshine and a sky with clouds in every possible shade of purple, charcoal and silver flecked with ripples of wispy white had me snapping photos non stop.

Storm Brewing

Storm Waning

Returning to reality can be a letdown, but it’s not half bad when you bring back enough memories to last another fifty years (hey, I’m still young at heart!) and inspire scenes and characters for several more novels!

Now that September is underway, what summer memories will spill over into your writing?