Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bear Witness

My current wip is a YA paranormal romance in which one of the characters is a lycanthrope. Recently, I wrote a scene in which another of the characters has to run from him when he is in werewolf form. I casually described the werewolf as bigger than a bear and talked about how fast he was and didn't think much of it. Then, last Friday, I had the fun of taking my son Harrison and my daughter Shanika to the Minnesota Zoo to see the Russian grizzly bear exhibit. Suddenly I was faced with actual bears and I found myself revisiting the words I had written. What does it mean to be "bigger than a bear"? The beautiful creatures swimming just beyond the glass weighed in at 700 pounds or more and had to put on about 400 pounds every year to prepare for winter. What did it mean to be incredibly fast? Although the huge animals looked lumbering, the sign by their cage assured me that one of their running strides was equal to four human strides. As I watched the bears swim, I imagined what it would really be like to run from one. Then I tried to imagine what it would be like to be one, or to be something like that-- that big, that powerful. I left the exhibit with a whole new notion of my scene, a new respect for bears and for my lycanthrope character-- and a new appreciation of writing. Because sometimes seeing the world through the lens of my writing makes me a more curious, interested person. As a busy mom trying to write my first book in my supposedly free time I often have to stay goal oriented just to keep my momentum going. But sometimes it is good to focus on all the benefits that writing brings to my life, like how my writing gives me an excuse to research things I wouldn't otherwise learn about, or how writing has introduced me to a host of fascinating people I might never have otherwise met, or how writing can turn an ordinary trip to the zoo into an encounter with something mythic.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Just one word can change everything you've created. You say bear, just to be impressive, and suddenly your plot, your characters, your world design, and your character's psycology are all completely different.