I love a story with details. I think they have the power to bring a story to life, make it believable, and put the reader right where you want them – hooked, immersed, and with the feeling that they are actually there with your characters. But I would caution against meaningless detail. You want those you choose to be accurate/believable, and you want them to fulfill their purpose. You must choose carefully – if you’re lucky, they’ll provide layers of rich, believable fabric for the story you’re creating. I spend a lot of time researching words, phrases, and food that my readers will never know about, but will hopefully bring a solid sense of believability to my writing.
The first book in our series has the word “rose” in its title – Scotland’s Knight: The Rose in the Glade. It’s not there because it sounds good, although I do like the way it sounds. It’s there for several, significant reasons.
Is It Believable?
Roses grew in Medieval Scotland. It wouldn’t make much sense to have passionflowers or orchids play such a role (unless they were imported from some exotic trade route – which is not a part of this story). That’s not the role they need to play. The rose in our story needs to grow wild in Scotland, be a part of the local landscape, and be easily known, recognizable, and accessible.
What Else Can It Do?
There is powerful symbolism attached to a rose. It’s a symbol of love and adoration; it’s also a symbolic carrier of secrets. The 13th century French poem, Romance of the Rose is a personification of the woman, the object of the lover’s attention, and his plucking of the rose represents his conquest of her. All these things figure prominently in our story, so that reinforced my desire to use it. It’s fulfilling several roles, whether the reader is aware or told outright; it adds a layer of authenticity to the setting and plot. This little flower packs a powerful punch!
One of the main characters in our story is Maggie, a weaver’s daughter, who goes into the woods to pick plants and lichen, etc. for the dyes her father makes and uses. It’s logical that she knows about and has seen roses on her journeys into the forest. I began to associate her with a rose in several ways: she’s beautiful, sometimes fragile, and strong when she needs to be (cue the thorns). Her love interest, Lennox, brings her a rose in significant parts of the story. In his mind, she is his rose.
Bottom line? Have fun with details! I like mine multi-faceted with layers of meaning that quietly weave their own little story right along with me. They have their time to shine, and then they slip into the shadows and wait until I summon them to once again work their quiet, powerful magic.