The Emporium Gazette
Issue 40 -- August 2002

Live Your Story Created for You
by Bob Nailor

Have you ever wanted to step into a story? And be part of it? Those incredible opportunities can happen more often that you think - you're just not looking in the proper direction.

A friend of mine, Bill, is entrenched in the Civil War Re-Enactment and wears a costume that boasts authenticity down to the seams. I was an Assistant Scoutmaster with the Boys Scouts at the time and Bill's son was in our troop. We scheduled a camping trip to coincide with one of Bill's re-enactments. The boys weren't too thrilled at first, but when the muskets starting shooting, the male chromosome kicked in and they really enjoyed and got involvled.

Going into the camp that they'd set up for visitors to view was exciting. We even got to taste some of the food that was being prepared. It seems that Bill's regiment are sticklers for realism. Some of the food was less than desirable. Going to the re-enactment family village was better, as was the food. That particular camping escapade was the talk of the meetings for the next few weeks and a couple of the boys starting studying the Civil War more thoroughly. I enjoyed the show and took a few mental notes not realizing the full picture yet to unfold for me.

I used that re-enactment as the visual basis for a short story I entered into a writing contest. With just a minor amount of research to validate some authenticity to my story, I wrote a fantasy based on those facts. I'm currently doing more research for another project that will be non-fiction. Still, in my mind, I can see Bill charging into battle and can taste the hardtack. Of course, having lived a few scant miles from Antietam with Gettysburg just up the road, I have a multitude of visuals about the area for the backdrop.

Last weekend I enjoyed a day in a wooded park in western Michigan under the enchantment of The Renaissance. A member of my Northwest Ohio Writer's Forum group, Dave, is involved with The Rogue Blades which performs a humorous real sword battling routine at Renaissance faires. As my family wandered in this created fantasy it dawned on me that the past had once again come alive for me and an opportunity was at hand. During the jousting tournament I studied the movements of the combatants and their steeds. I also filmed it for reference. In fact, I filmed much of the action and people attending with their period costumes. Just like Bill, some go to the extreme making sure that the costume is as true as possible, while others tend to be a bit more imaginative. Since I tend to write more fantasy, I especially enjoyed the fairy ring and watching a group of young girls perform, moving from mushroom to mushroom. Suddenly fantasy was reality.

What is unique to this situation is that approximately 4 months ago I sketched out a draft for a story that takes place during the Renaissance. At the time I had only been introduced to Dave and didn't know of his background or that a few months later I'd be attending a faire. Still, eating Rat-On-A-Stick while sucking down an Elvyn Myst and listening to a gentleman hawk tasty Dragon Legs does tend to make one's mind come alive with story possibilities.

Think about how to use this information: interview a participant for the newspaper, write a review of the event for a regional magazine or learn an aspect of the event for a "how-to" article.

The writing opportunities are there and can be fun - not to mention the food tasting.

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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