Friday, March 30, 2012

On Writing Regional Fiction

I have so many stories to write. One of them, at the very least, needs to involve some of the quirky characters who live nearby.

I live in a rural valley, nestled into the Rocky Mountains. I have met some interesting folks here, some who have been here forever, some who were dragged here against their will, some who came here voluntarily, seeking something. I am completely surrounded by good material.

Some are willing to tell me their stories, and I listen with rapt attention. Some won't tell me a thing, forcing me to make up a past, a present and a future for them in my mind. Many of them would honestly do better in fiction, I think, where their quirks would be better appreciated.

In thinking about character names, however, I realize I will face some problems.

It seems all the older men around here are named Dutch, Skip, Lefty, Smitty, or Bud. Those stuck with their given names are invariably Jim or Bill. I guess the nicknames are probably souveniers of WWII--afterall, most of these guys are probably vets. But why were Jim and Bill not given nicknames? Why were they alone spared?

If I am to write fiction using characters from my valley--specifically when it comes to the older men--is it appropriate to branch out any in the name department? Could I add in a Roy or a Chuck? Perhaps even a Floyd? Would it be disrespectful? Dishonest? Unrealistic?

These are the things that weigh upon my mind.

I think I need to get out more.

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