By Stephen Bly
In my newest release, Creede of Old Montana, Avery John Creede and Mary Jane Cutler (a.k.a. “Sunny”) ride down into a canyon toward the Missouri River near Fort Benton, Montana. I realize that every reader will visualize this canyon according to their own experience. Each mind will conjure up different images.
Some will think of a dramatic place like the Grand Canyon with its sheer cliffs and dangerous drops.
Others will envision smallish hilly inclines.
But Avery and Mary Jane’s canyon is more like Hell’s Canyon (not far from our Idaho home).
The mountains slope down at a sometimes navigable decline to the Snake River. That’s the type of sloping grades along this part of the Missouri River.
My characters probably won’t fall off this cliff, but it’s not an easy descent. Especially when they’re under attack by gunfire. The canyon’s carpeted with short, brown, dry grass and scattered sage. Occasional prickly pear cactus break the landscape. So do huge granite boulders. That’s important for finding them protection, a place to hide.
It’s crucial that a writer know his or her terrain, the actual geography of a scene . . . and describes it in a way that the reader is on the same page.When you read the word ‘canyon,’ what memory or picture comes to your mind?
On the trail,
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