Love Stories & Landscapes: The "Spin" approach
- Posting from Rostock, Germany
In newsrooms, there is an unspoken understanding of a need to provide a unique spin to a story that is not a scoop, especially if said story is centered on news that many other media outlets are reporting. As a journalist-writer and editor, I swear by that approach. If I don’t have anything unique, insightful and newsworthy, I shouldn’t be there.
And this “spin-based” approach holds true for fiction – especially where stories of love and humanity are concerned. Why? Because there are numerous such stories out there across genres ranging from commercial and literary to paranormal and fantasy. If you’re writing or producing a love story, it had better be a darn good one; otherwise, dunk it. That’s what I told myself before setting forth to write ‘TWIN FLAME’, a Trans-Atlantic saga, which unravels how a mathematical physicist and a writer-artist journey back to each other against all odds.
This is by no means a generalization, but novels and movies have tended to most often be set in one or more of the global hotspots – London, New York, Sydney, Paris, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Berlin, Bombay [oops, Mumbai!], Delhi, Rome, Tokyo and Beijing, to mention some.
Now, here’s a question you must ask yourself when you are contemplating a setting for your own novel: Would you rather develop your narrative in Santa Barbara, which is already a setting for many novels and movies? Or would you pick neighbouring Solvang, a quaint Danish town where the spirit of Hans Christian Andersen lives on?
I just arrived in Rostock, a bucolic albeit historic city, east of Berlin to research for ‘TWIN FLAME’, which alternates between historical and contemporary backdrops to give the story a flavour of realness and authenticity while also taking readers on a rollercoaster of mysticism and dramatic tension.
Rostock isn’t as big or trendy as Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt, but it does have its own story to tell. It is a harbinger of the life and times of postwar Germany during the country’s reunification in the early nineties. Warnemünde is a little seaside town, not far from Rostock. It is home to peace-loving coastal aficionados. Not far from Warnemünde is a small refugee shelter, which fell pray to the Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots less than two years after the German Democratic Republic’s reunification treaty with West Germany as a neo-nazist rant against asylum seekers and foreign workers.
No spoilers intended! But, I’m excited at the prospect of studying the architecture and layout of this refugee shelter more than two decades after it burned down. I will also be landscaping the layout and design of its neighbor buildings. I hope to even gather a few witness accounts, if I find older locals who experienced the Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots, directly or indirectly.
If you want your story to be unique, feel it from every fibre of your being; allow yourself to feel. And then, if there’s a location you’re choosing as a base for multiple scenes in your book, movie or show, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty and take the steps to scope it out for real!
Much Love, N
On the Warnemünde seaside. This little beachtown neighbours a historic district, where a lead character in my ongoing novel spent part of his childhood.