Monthly Archives: January 2012

Truth or fiction?

A flock of robins swarmed into our back yard today and dined in the crabapple tree.

For dessert, several of them landed in my window boxes and devoured the winterberries left over from the holidays. I was surprised to see them and wondered whether they were a harbinger of spring or just the result of our wacky New Hampshire winter. So I did a little research and learned the following: Males are far more likely to remain in the north than females. Why? Come spring, the male’s main job is to find and defend a territory. The females’ main job is to create and lay the eggs. This requires a lot of good nutrition and food energy, so females go where they are sure of good food supplies in winter. Yes, they have to use up food energy to migrate north. But migrating and laying eggs are easier for well-nourished birds. 

I’ve often said that writing fiction is 20% imagination and 80% research.  Why did I weigh research so heavily? It’s the credibility factor. Successful writers understand that and research every detail, often learning far more about a topic than they ever end up using in their story.

As a writer, I may choose to share all or only a portion of this research with the reader. Too much information slows the pace and adds no value (unless the information serves to advance the plot).

Would I have ever thought to write about robins in a winter scene? Probably not because I wouldn’t have thought it would be credible. I know better, now.

Will there be winter robins at Lakeside Lodge?

We’ll see.

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