Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Adventure Back in Time

I joined a friend of mine at the Bristol, Wisconsin Renaissance Faire over labor day weekend. His daughter was one of the performers. As we “traveled” back in time through the plays at the Globe, wandered through the vendor displays and interacted with the street performers, we were pulled into the character and atmosphere of what it was like to live in a different era and a time when the average person was worried more about how to make it to the next day alive than the war of words among detached politicians.

For those who’ve attended a Renaissance Faire somewhere in the world you know what I’m talking about. Just like the Civil War Re-enactments, the Ren-Faire performers strive for authenticity even if that long-ago reality is sometimes interrupted by the plethora of attendees saying those now infamous words, “Can you hear me now?” as they try to locate family and friends.

There was also a touch of modern day humor among the performers and vendors. One of the jewelry shops we visited had a most humorous sign posted. It read, “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free puppy.” Now that strikes fear in every parents heart! Signs proclaiming “Lady Visa and Sir MasterCard are honored here” also reminded participants that despite it’s authenticity the Ren-Faire is indeed a business.

I was reminded as I wandered around the grounds of Ren-Faire that as writers we are trying to achieve this same sense of presence in our stories with our readers. Our challenge of course is that we are limited to words in a traditional book format and the words we choose need to be powerful enough to ground our readers in our story through all their senses. If we embrace more multi-media formats for our stories there will still be challenges but we might have better success at provoking more senses with not only our words but visual and aural cues as well.

As a writer, who hasn’t heard the phrase - “Show Don’t Tell!” The performers at Ren-Faire have the benefit of giving visual cues from their costumes to their mannerisms and, of course, the way in which they speak. The first “Me Lady,” from a costumed gentleman made me feel pulled into the experience of being in this different time and place. A kiss on my hand as he bowed in respect sent a tingle up my spine. Ah, it was nice!

And, that’s the feeling we strive for our readers, at least I want to believe so. I want the reader of my stories to come away feeling pulled in, and yes for them to even think and feel - “Ah, that was nice!”


Morgan Mandel said...

It's fun seeing those people get all dressed up in their costumes and pretend they lived in a different age and place. Glad you had a good time.

Morgan Mandel

Deb Larson said...

I love the Ren-Faire! It makes that time period so romantic - which I'm sure it was not.
But it's fun to be a part of the atmosphere ~
DL Larson

Debra St. John said...

HI Terri,

I've driven by the Fiar groudns a hundred times, but we've never been. Sounds like a wonderful back-in-time experience. Living history...

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