Walking in the Dark

Today (August 28) I set out for my morning walk not long after 5:00. Yes, it was dark, but there were moon shadows since the moon was not long past full and it was still fairly high in the western sky. It was eerily quiet.

This walk was not just because I woke up early and decided to see what the neighborhood was like before dawn. This was not just a lark; it was research.

I’m working on my annual Christmas e-book novella, Here’s Your Problem, about two night people, a policewoman and an ER doc. I wanted to see the world as a patrol officer would see it. I’ve been on two ride-alongs, but at late afternoon/night and during the day, not with an officer who works the pre-dawn hours.

Pre-dawn is different, not at all like the 2:00 darkness. There’s a real shift in the light, anticipation of a new day and the wonders it will hold.

Amazing how many people leave their porch lights on all night. I’ve heard police officers say that light is the best deterrent to break-ins. Burglars are afraid of being seen, so they aren’t going to risk breaking in a door with the chance that a neighbor, up in the night to go to the bathroom, could glance out a window and see them. This is a detail I’ll work in my manuscript.

I printed a calendar for December, when my story takes place, and charted what occurs each day in the lives of my characters. I wanted to use the night sky at the doc’s country place, but I had to check to see the phase of the moon on December 5th. So much for my romantic full moon. It’s a waning crescent that sets at 4:35 in the afternoon, so the night sky will be perfect for seeing the stars. Okay, I can go with that.

I set this story in a fictional town in southern Kansas. Recently on a trip with my combo sister/sister-in-law and brother-in-law (my sister and I married brothers), we discussed the type of trees we saw and that the land wasn’t as flat as it gets in western Kansas. I used Pittsburg as a model in my mind so I could write:  The city limits sign, Welcome to Kimble, Kansas, population 24,846, marked the border of Officer Vi Cooper’s patrol beat.

I’m writing fiction, and that means I can make up anything I want. But no, I can’t. I have to make the place as realistic as I can so that the reader suspends disbelief and falls into the story.

We read fiction for entertainment, but we like a take-away of some sort. Something we can apply to our own lives. Something that shows us that others have traveled this same life journey and experienced the same sorrow or joy or excitement or anticipation or disappointment or grief. Something that tells us we are not walking in the dark alone.


The steps I take as I work on a book are similar to other writers. Nothing new here. So imagine my surprise when I was asked to do a podcast on writing and creating a home office for a website, Level Up, about taking your business to a new level. If you have thirty minutes to kill, take a listen: http://impactbydan.com/a-reader-becomes-a-writer-level-up-podcast-episode-18-with-guest-veda-boyd-jones/