September 23, 2013

Monday Pep Rally: History

If you'll recall, we've changed up our format a little bit for these posts. Because we've all gotten so used to getting our thoughts down in 140 characters, we're taking the discussion to twitter! Every Monday, we'll be talking about our Pep Rally question on twitter and we'd love you to join in. Just keep an eye out for the #MisfitPepRally hashtag!

Friday I was having lunch with my coworkers, and we got talking about a book one of my coworkers' sisters was reading on the local cemetery. It's subtitled Miners, Madams, Merchants and Murderers, which should give you a great idea of the local history. This led to a whole discussion of Park City's past and things my local coworker didn't know. But it got me thinking.

How much does history shape our stories? Whether we think about it or not, history is a huge component to storytelling. The history of our location, our characters families. How boring would Harry Potter have been without the centuries of history Rowling built into Hogwarts, or Dumbledore's family? Harry's family?

Park City, for those who are unfamiliar with it, was a silver mining town up until about 30 years ago. The shiny ski town image it has now is a relatively recent thing. Its history is full of your more typical wild west stories, bar fights, prostitution (it had a roaring red light district even into the 20th century), outlaws... All the things that make for a great backdrop to a story. The town I grew up in, Leesburg, VA, was founded before the Revolutionary War by the Lee family (Richard Henry Lee, 'Lighthorse' Harry Lee, Robert E. Lee, you know the ones). It too has a very rich, but very different history. There's even a biker bar across the street from the courthouse (which is the original courthouse, by the way). The tongue-in-cheek humor of their well-known neon sign is made even funnier by the history of the place.

So my question for you this week is: What kind of history are you putting into your writing? How do you use history (personal or place) to tell your story?

Let us know in the comments and on Twitter, hashtag #MisfitPepRally! 


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