We’ve all taken trips and we all have stories. Here’s a brief overview of my trip from Arizona to Washington and how it might involve storytelling.
The trip started with me loading my two large dogs, Sugar and Murphy, into the back of my Jeep. Neither one can jump that high, and Murphy hates to ride in cars. My Realtor took pity and sent her husband to help me. We had to put their front paws on the rear bumper and then lift their hindquarters the rest of the way. Needless to say, Murphy resisted this procedure. In the meantime I’m pretty sure my neighbors were quite entertained.
To put that scene in a book, I wouldn’t have to embellish the story, but I might go into a little more detail.
I drove to Las Vegas, just me and the dogs, to pick up my daughter, who’d flown in to travel with us. Another adventure. Let’s just say the dogs were wound up.
The trip took three days, so we had to stay at motels for two nights. I headed for the Jeep to load my suitcase the second morning, and a woman was leaving the building at the same time, with two very tiny Chihuahuas. Cute little dogs, right? Uh, one of the dogs took one look at me and leaped into the air, biting my leg. His teeth were like needles. I put my bag in the car and turned around, and the woman and her dogs had quickly disappeared.
In a book? There was one very large and particularly nasty looking dog who didn’t appear to like people in general. The protagonist tries to back away and manages to trip over her luggage. The owner was able to pull the big brute back before he did any damage, but by the time she pulled herself up, they were gone. She had the feeling the man had been watching her. She made a mental note to remember what he looked like, which wasn’t much better than his squirrely dog’s appearance.
As we closed in on Oregon, we ran into a snow storm. It’s been years since I’ve driven in snow, so I pulled behind a large truck and followed in his tracks. Easy peasy.
In a book? The protagonist is driving late at night on a lonely road, and a blizzard moves in. There’s no other traffic, with the exception of headlights she can see far behind her, and she’s on her own. Of course, in the book, she’s never driven in snow before. She slams on her brakes when she approaches a hairpin curve and slides right off the road and into a field. Heart pounding, she slowly pulls back onto the road.
Once we passed through the snow storm, it rained all the way to Washington. They were having almost record-breaking rain and it was an interesting ride. I think, if I remember correctly, they said on the news that the county I live in had over 20 inches of rain in December.
Back to my protagonist. She’s still driving late at night and she’s made it through the snow with her nerves on edge but intact. Can she now handle the rain? Probably, but there’s a sound like a gunshot and she has a flat tire. She pulls off to the side of the road, climbs out of the car, and guess who’s right behind her. You guessed it, the squirrely looking dog and his master. Before she can climb back into the car, the dog runs over, jumps up and licks her like a popsicle.
Take some of the little things that have happened to you while traveling and turn them into a scene in a book. The smallest thing (like a Chihuahua, she said laughing) can turn a humdrum scene into something spectacular.
Speaking of laughing, what if your character has a traveling companion and something strikes them funny. They might laugh themselves right into a ditch. You know the kind of laughter I’m talking about – the kind that makes tears run down your cheeks.
Until next week, don’t let life pass you by without paying attention to the little things, both the good and the not so good. They make for great stories.
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In the works: A Time Travel Mystery. It will be a standalone story, and hopefully it will be worth the wait.