John Reimringer Recommends...

“Place is important to my writing, and one of my best practices is to get in the car and drive. Images from those drives—a janitor in a lighted skyway at night, two cop cars in an empty parking lot, a woman dressed for the office waiting at a bus stop in Frogtown—inspire scenes and form the whole tactile underpinning of a piece. When I wanted to set part of my novel in small-town Minnesota, I got out a map, picked an area that looked like it had interesting landscape, and spent a day driving around that particular county, taking notes on what was being farmed, the kinds of trees, church architecture, area businesses, how long it took to drive from one town to another. A whole section of the book grew out of that day’s drive.”
John Reimringer, author of Vestments (Milkweed Editions, 2010)

Photo credit: James Peters


Images from drives

John Reimringer's suggestion to drive around an area when planning a story there is wonderful. I've never planned it that way but most of my stories were inspired by places and built upon exactly the kinds of images he cites. That janitor in a doorway, the woman at the bus stop . . . . their fleeting images remind me of other characters I've encountered briefly once or sometimes repeatedly and it always amazes me how a single expression, a bit of body language, some mundane behavior can tell such a real and moving story.