Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
A Few Snippets, The Stuff From Whence Legacy Stories Are Born
Ø That time in Germany when Lt. Nick Tompras fired off 250 rounds with a single pull of the trigger. It was an M-60 machine gun.
Ø Stepping on the head of a rattlesnake in California. Bounding down a steep hill, was looking for a place to break my fall.
Ø Bouncing down the long scree slope of volcanic ash on the east side of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It was like skiing moguls.
Ø Paragliding above Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Was high enough to see the famous monument close by.
Ø Snorkeling close enough to a giant clam in Indonesia to watch as it closed its shell.
Ø Looking up from the caldera floor of Vulcan Izalco in El Salvador.
Ø Spending 1½ hours near an exhausted 23-foot python that had just consumed a rusa deer in Indonesia.
Ø Descending with scuba gear to 118 feet below the surface to see one of the world’s largest elephant ear sponges in Haiti.
Ø Sleeping on top of a giant boulder in late winter in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The snow was 10 feet deep.
Ø Eating deep-fried mopane worms in Malawi, and toasted silk worms in South Korea.
Ø Going deep underground in a gold mine in South Africa.
Ø Picking up chips of garnet and ruby at the mouth of a gemstone mine in Kenya.
Ø Counting the full five minutes in complete blackness in an iron mine in New Jersey.
Ø Finding an Indian stone hammer along the banks of the Kootenai River in Montana.
Ø Fighting wildfires in the Parc National Oiseaux de Djoudj in Mauritania.
Ø Spearfishing for langouste off the east coast of Costa Rica.
Ø Drift diving and underwater cave exploration in Mexico.
Ø Night diving at Hol Chan in Belize.
Ø Ten days sleeping under my desk at Tan Son Nhut during the Têt offensive in Viet Nam.
Ø Driving through an active range fire in Mali.
Getting started on a chronicle about any subject whatsoever means having an actual starting point. In the example above, the starting point was a bulletized list. In college, several of the professors advised using an outline; and over the years a few team leaders in consulting projects actually insisted on seeing all of the working outlines of proposed project documents prior to submitting the combined initial drafts for eventual refinement. It was team consulting and team writing.
Key steps necessary to construct interesting legacy stories also make use of a few fundamentals and follow certain procedures. The steps are not necessarily consecutive but once a completed story is reviewed and analyzed in retrospect, it becomes apparent that key elements and ingredients were in the development mix. They include: picking an interesting theme; developing an outline or framework; adding and embellishing ideas that may need some detail in explanation; correcting the spelling and syntax as you proceed; re-organizing pertinent sentences and paragraphs into logical chronological order, as necessary; and completing the first draft.
Once a clean draft is finished, it is important to read it, re-read it, evaluate it, and edit the draft. One of the beauties of the internal editors in social media sites like LegacyStories.org is that the writer can make changes in the text months and even years after a story was drafted. This chronicle is an example of that possibility. The chronicler who calls himself the Footloose Forester never intended to pass off his bulletized list as a legitimate chronicle entry. He believes that the hoped-for delicious taste of a story that he intended will Instruct: Inform: and Entertain, and should have a proper recipe.
Baking a tasty story is much like baking a batch of brownies. There are various recipes that will satisfy our taste buds, but there are several ways by which things can go wrong. As taken from a previous entry of the Chronicles of a Footloose Forester:
Excerpt from: A Recipe for Becoming a Writer, entry in Legacy Stories on 6 November 2012
In the end, it all depends on what recipe tastes best when mixed and baked according to the directions, including adherence to the correct time and temperature in the oven…What does any of the discussion about brownies have to do with writing, or becoming a writer? At the heart of the matter is the equivalence of principles that compose the ingredients that make good brownies, or good writers…. Accomplished writers are people who know what the ingredients are, and use them in various recipes that appeal to the consuming public of readers.
A would-be writer must start with knowing what ingredients are proper for the recipe of the item(s) one wishes to promote and share; then to assemble the blend of ingredients in proper amounts, and at the proper times. Knead the dough of storyline into a bowl of appropriate substance, smoothly blend in bits of local color, add a pinch of WOW factor, and a sprinkle of suspense. Blend the ingredients so that they are not too stiff, nor too thin. Strong vocabulary words may be preferable in some cases, but the taste should not be overpowering. The food should not only taste good, it should look good. Sometimes the recipe calls for setting certain ingredients aside; and adding them later. That is why getting the reader’s interest starts with flavorful ingredients that are blended in such a way that they are neither lumpy nor runny, thus can be ladled into the mold designed for the expected product. Good syntax is the main blending agent. Use as needed, to avoid lumpiness. Visually and psychologically, huge brownies and long paragraphs are not the most appetizing, so should be avoided. On the other hand, tiny pieces do not satisfy one’s natural appetite when that particular hunger pangs.
When the brownie mix of a story is ready for baking, double check to make sure that it is not so short that it is dismissed as insignificant; nor too long such that it may never be finished before it becomes stale. As an example, and despite their grandeur as confections, wedding cakes are beyond consideration for an individual, just because of their size. But brownies are just the right size and have fairly predictable qualities. And anybody can make brownies, as long as they follow the directions.