First of all, I never owned one of the beautiful VW convertibles seen above. I did own a beautiful bright orange 1971 VW Kharmann Ghia hardtop. I loved that car. Drove it all over the place when I lived and worked in Charlotte, NC, many years ago.
So what does this have to do with April Fool’s Day? Well, not a lot.
I’m in the middle of a new noir short murder mystery/detective/lawyer story (no, that’s not a misprint) and decided my lawyer protagonist would drive a Kharmann Ghia, orange, with overdrive. (I know they never came with overdrive. I just wanted it in the story. I’m a fiction writer; I get to make stuff up).
The only problem: I had set the story in the present, where the car would be an antique, collectible by any measure. So how do I get around that? Easy. I moved the story’s setting to the 1980’s. No cell phones, no GPS, just normal old school detective work in this one.
Where do I set this story? What city? That’s easy, too. Make one up, never name it. Readers can draw their own conclusions. They always do.
So what is my aim in writing this story?
I’m trying to write a story in which an aspect of its setting is obvious but never described; there but not there; living only in the readers’ imaginations. And yet the story has to be “real” enough to pull the reader in, even if the imaginary world in which my hero lives could never actually exist.
We, as writers, are tasked with creating from whole cloth worlds that feel, taste, smell, look, and sound real. Real enough that when the story is read, the reader is in that world, fully engaged in that world, and feels bereft when the story ends. If the story is well-written, the reader finds themselves in the story, not just reading it. Living the action, so to speak.
Hard to do? Yes, but it is doable. So go out there and write. Create your fictional world. Remember that every person in that story has to want something important to them, and that every sense must be on the page.
Get busy. I am.