Get Inspired Mondays, Writing

Get Inspired Monday: Guest Post by Natalie Whipple

Today’s post comes to you from the talented and vivacious YA writer, Natalie Whipple. I was so glad to find her several months ago via her blog, Between Fact and Fiction, where her writing is thoughtful, inspiring, and always honest.

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YA Writer, Natalie Whipple

Several years ago, I drove by an old, blue Victorian home that was extremely close to a freeway underpass. The contrast struck me—the old and the new, the ornate and the industrial, the beauty and the grit. That image stayed with me. I couldn’t help wondering what stories that house held, who would live there still despite the horrid location.

And, because I’m weird like that, I decided it would have to be a witch.

Walking through a cemetery once, I came upon a whole family laid to rest together…save one child. It seemed such a sad thing, that this girl had to bury her family and figure out how to go on alone. Was she bitter? Did she hope to see them again?

Or, you know, what would she do if she met the angel of death who killed them all?

Currently, I drive by a trailer park every time I go to the gym. It’s not a big one. No, it’s nestled tightly between a busy street, railroad tracks, and a car repair shop. Giant trees hover above the old homes, and I can’t help thinking how bad it would be if one fell.

I’m pretty sure that image will turn into a story one day, too.

There is something about places that gets me all introspective and creative. Especially old places. They have so many stories to tell, so much history in every nook and cranny. My imagination easily roams when I see or visit places.

I think sometimes setting is an underrated part of writing. While I certainly don’t think flowery long descriptions are ideal, I do think setting is as much a character in a book as everything else. You can set the mood with a perfect location. You can say something about a place and its people with the smallest detail, and somehow it brings your book to life. If you work it right, setting can make the reader feel present in your story.

I am so inspired by places—all places. There’s so much to absorb in a city or at the beach or strolling through a flea market. And that’s where stories come from: life and the places in which we live it.

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Natalie Whipple is a YA writer repped by Anna Webman of Curtis Brown, LTD. When she’s not writing, she spends most of her time keeping her two little ninjas out of trouble, which is as hard as it sounds. Ninjas love trouble. She also cooks, draws, and watches more anime than she should. You can learn more about Natalie at her popular writing blog Between Fact and Fiction, or by stalking her on Twitter.

This post was part of Get Inspired Monday! — a series created to help you dig into your week and find inspiration in unexpected places.

11 thoughts on “Get Inspired Monday: Guest Post by Natalie Whipple”

  1. Great post, Natalie–I couldn’t agree more on the idea of place as inspiration. When we lived in IN, there was an abandoned lakeside motel that was breath-takingly evocative to me at once, and in the short moments as we drove past, I felt a story take shape in the peeling doors with the tilted room numbers, the still-curtained windows. Creepy but so cool. Those ideas stick with you.

    Thanks for bringing Natalie on board, Amanda!

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  2. I love the idea of place as another character in a story. It can make the reader feel the presence. Great places show up in choosing the right details like Natalie mentioned. And you don’t have to travel to exotic locations to find them. They can be just around the block. Inspiring post!

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  3. Natalie,
    “Setting is as much a character in a book as everything else” – I love that and totally agree. There’s just something about place that can really anchor a story.

    That being said, setting is one element I struggle with most in my writing! Not because I can’t “see” it, just because my settings never seem distinct enough without seeming like I’m trying to make them distinct. Any tips?

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  4. I love to think of the setting as being a character — in some stories, setting becomes the most important piece. It’s great when you get those flashes of seeing a place, getting inspired, and knowing there is possibility.

    Thank you so much for being here, Natalie. Wonderful post!

    (FYI — Natalie is off helping a friend for the next couple of days, but I’m sure will be happy to see your comments upon her return.)

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  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on setting, Natalie. I agree that we should honor our setting as a character in the story.

    And I love the way your mind thinks when you see interesting settings. Do you keep a file of setting descriptions?

    Amanda, thank you for inviting Natalie to your blog. 🙂

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  6. Great thoughts. I especially like the one about the cemetery. I worked in one for 4 years in high school-college and spent many hours contemplating the lives of days gone by.

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  7. Great post! Describing setting isn’t my strong suit but it’s something I’m working on in my WIP. I love reading books where the setting is its own character, like Paris in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

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  8. Great post. Setting is important to me, whether I’m reading or writing. When I walk or drive, I’m always noticing what’s around me and wondering if I can use these places in my writing.

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