Where I find my inspiration to write There's just something about the northern woods and lakes.

You could ask any writer. I’m sure they could tell you how they begin their writing process.

Maybe inspiration strikes like lightning — the entire story, right there in their mind, neatly wrapped with a bow. Maybe they have a nugget of an idea and begin to expand from there. Maybe they have a notion of an interesting main character and build the plot around him or her.

For me, it starts with place.

The most crucial aspects to the stories that I write regard the development of the characters and the setting. Many authors would disagree with this. They would argue that plot development is key, and from there you need to create characters and place around it. To each his own, I guess.

Northern Michigan is where I am inspired. It is far underrepresented in literature, in my opinion. Sure, you can read Hemingway’s The Torrents of Spring, or Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series, or Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call From Heaven, or Jim Harrison’s True North, or Travis Mulhauser’s Sweetgirl. For the most part, though, authors tend to stay away from the region. That is something I am intent on changing.

Though most of my writing is set in northern Michigan, I do not consider myself a regional author. Any issues you can find in cities across the country you can find in northern Michigan as well. I simply prefer to explore and interrogate these issues through the fictional lens of northern Michigan. There are passionate people. There are endless lakes and rivers and rolling hills and thick forests. There are hard times and triumphs, and there are laughs and tears.

Everyone needs a place to clear their mind, a respite from the troubles weighing us down. For me, nothing washes away the stresses of the world like the northern shores of the Great Lakes.

And once my own struggles disappear, I write.


19 thoughts on “Where I find my inspiration to write There's just something about the northern woods and lakes.

  1. Ed, I SO appreciate you sharing many beautiful photos of nice places since I have been battling ‘Agoraphobia’ for almost two years and so I don’t get out much these days 🙁
    My husband was born in MI.

    And? I love to write listening to the rain fall. It can be rainy and 30 degrees and I still keep my door cracked open while I write to hear the rain. LOL. Hope you don’t mind, but I am reblogging this post on my book and readers blog 🙂 xo

    Catherine Lyon

  2. Good post buddy, for me it’s always been some event or something I read or something I hear someone speak. My imagination starts from that point. It tries to put a story forward with that as a starting point.

    1. Someone once asked Gary Larsen where he got his ideas for the Farside cartoons. They would almost right away look at him and also ask, “why do you get those ideas?”

      I have to echo his sentiments. “I don’t know”.

      I do know a lot of what I write has one foot firmly in reality. After all, in my series, a lot of those events are cases I worked on. And then the imagination steps in and takes it a whole other direction. I take the case and play with what happened. An example. in one of my chapters I have a guy, who in the middle of a saloon full of people and in the middle of a dance, stood up and shot and killed his girl friend (no lack of witnesses on that one). That much actually happened.

      Now for the fiction piece of it. I moved the place it happened by about 26 miles, changed it from middle of summer to Christmas Eve, and then added in where my central character and team corner him, and go in after him. That part never happened.

      What did happen was the Tribal Police caught him as he was trying to flee onto one of the Native American reservations. Apparently he thought he’d be safe from us there (he was right to a point. Out jurisdiction did end at their fence line. He was wrong in thinking they’d hide him or that the reservation was any kind of refuge. When they finished with him, he was very glad to see us.).

      Or I see a story on the news, and bang, I’ve a new idea for a new novel.

      So I steal from reality and forge it into a story.