Writing Tip #61

Building bridges. We took a quick family vacation this weekend into New Jersey, and as we were making our way over the Outerbridge Crossing, affectionately called the “Outerbridge,” I mentioned to my husband how I used the bridge as a model for a fictitious upstate New York bridge I created for my book Baby Grand. I can’t remember if it was a conscious decision to use the bridge (part of me thinks I actually used the very similar-looking Goethals Bridge, which is only a few miles north), but its steel cantilever construction and narrow lane span came to mind when I wanted to create a scene that took place on a bridge. If I recall correctly, I even envisioned the vistas from the Outerbridge when deciding aspects of what my character saw from its roadway.

I imagined my husband wondering why I didn’t just use an actual upstate bridge instead. I certainly could have done that. There are several accurate depictions of things and places in Baby Grand. I even took a trip to the Albany in the spring of 2010 to get a feel for the place.

But I like the mixture of “real” and “not real” when writing a novel, the picking and choosing of tiny details of my life and my imagination, a collection of random elements that have been inserted into a new order, making new connections. To me, that’s part of the fun of it all, creating these little places and people that are composites of all these different aspects of my world. To me, that’s what writing creatively is all about: Building bridges, be they metal or otherwise.


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