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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Was Jo March Right?

Last year my daughter played Marmee in Little Women. I am sure you all know the story, Jo is the writer, Meg the romantic, Amy wants the better things in life and Beth is simply content and dies far too young. All of the characters are wonderful in this well-known story, but being an author myself, I always understood where Jo was coming from, even if she started off writing “blood and guts” stories.

At one point in the story, Aunt March mentions to Jo that she considered taking her to Europe. Jo believes this is something she needs and will do anything, even if it means becoming a poised lady, to go to Europe. Her theory is that a writer needs to travel to become better.

Rarely do we get to travel to the places we write about, unless you write contemporary stories that take place in your home town. My novels are historical with settings in England, France, the Caribbean and east coast of the United States. I visited several historical sites within the United States and have been lucky enough to travel to France twice. However, the list of places I want to visit with my characters is far longer than the list of places I have been.

Unfortunately, for Jo, she was unable to remain a lady and Aunt March ended up taking Amy with her to Europe.

Do you desire to travel somewhere to research your stories and absorb the locations and history? Where do you want to go and what is the perfect setting for your novel? Or, have you already had the opportunity to visit a place that further inspires you? Where was it?

14 comments:

  1. Hi, Amy! I love to visit the places I'm writing about. In fact, I feel like I'm writing blind if I haven't been to my setting. There's only so much you can get from travel guides and videos.

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  2. Oh I want to travel so bad I can't stand it. Up until a year or so ago, I'd never been outside of my state. I get to travel to New Mexico in March so I'm super excited about that. I would love to travel more, and hopefully one day I will be able to finally see the places I get to write and dream about.

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  3. Gail, I love how you bring the flavor of places you have visted into your stories.


    Melissa, I hope you do get to travel someday. A whole new writing world opened up to me when I had the opportunity to see historical places in France.

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  4. Amy,
    I've been lucky enough to travel a good many places because my father flew for a major airlines for many years, but the funny thing is I have never traveled to the places my stories are set. I would love to go to Yorkshire and several other places in England , so I can really see what it is I describe in my stories. I think seeing the places would help me make them more realistic for my stories. I spent fourteen days in Florence and Rome with my husband, and I have always wanted to write a story that takes place in Italy. My husband has recently become fascinated with the Renaissance Period, and we just decided to plan a trip to go back to Italy, specifically Florence and Venice, in two years , so maybe then I will come up with an idea for a great romance!

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  5. Julie,
    I've never been to Italy. It is on my list of places to visit (I have a very long list)

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  6. I would love to go to Italy. I am sure that a fabulous plot would develop while I was there:)

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  7. Me, I always wanted to go to the moon!

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  8. Karen, I agree. How could there not be a fabulous plot in such a romantic country.

    Sheila, what may have been impossible once may not always be. You never know. You might just get a chance. Now that would be inspiring.

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  9. I've been to Poland! I went there as an offer and ended up in my room the whole time writing! My great-grandfather lived in Poland during the war and met his wife -- my great-grandmother -- in a very strange way, so I wrote a short story about their meeting. But, I really want to go back and see the places they lived -- I want to write her full life story into a novel. She was a very interesting woman indeed!

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  10. Great post, Amy! And um...Spoiler Alert!!! re: Beth!! LOL! Just kidding...I've seen the movie ;)

    As for traveling, I LOVE to travel! I've been a lot of places in the US, thanks to my dad's job when I was a kid. I spent several summers in Portugal, during which I also traveled to Spain and Mallorca. And I've been to the Caribbean a couple times now. But my heart is really in England. When the hubby and I finally traveled to London a couple years ago, I felt like I was home. We spent 10 glorious days visiting all the historical sites and museums...and pubs :) It was the greatest trip of my life, and I immediately started writing my 2nd book as soon as we got home. I was so inspired, I cranked the book out in about 6 weeks. I'm desperate to go back - I really want to see more of London and also travel the countryside. Scotland, Paris and Sicily are high on the list as well. I don't think you HAVE to travel to the places you write about to be a great writer, but I do think it can add to your manuscript, not to mention it allows you to take a trip down memory lane and relive your great experiences!

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  11. Karra,

    Poland would be fascinating. You need to go back soon so we can read the book.

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  12. Jerrica,

    I apologize to anyone who didn't know Beth died in Little Women and for spoiling the story.
    I am envious that you have been to London. That city is at the top of my list, as in the number 1 spot but I don't know when or if I will ever get there. However, I may be going back to France year, and can't wait. Hmmm, maybe I can find a way to take a trip across the Channel.

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  13. Small world, last year my daughter played Jo! I think I would like to visit Spain again. We lived there for 3 years and I loved the country and the people. Maybe a romantic suspense about a bullfighter who someone wants dead. No! Not the bull!

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  14. Linda,

    Oh, I like the bullfighter idea.

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