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Writing fiction without trying new things in life is like … well, it’s like something. Something bad. It’s like wanting to start a blog post with an analogy, not being able to devise that analogy, and then beginning with the analogy anyway. You just shouldn’t do it. It is the duty of a fiction writer to rack up new experiences, explore new territory. To always be on the lookout for that next adventure.

Last weekend Justine and I were driving back to Austin after visiting our friend =ab in San Antonio when we began to see billboards advertising an amusement park called Wonder World. Neither of us had ever heard of Wonder World, and the billboards were a bit vague. Something about a cave, a petting zoo, maybe a miniature train ride. It sounded really and truly wonder-filled, and having no further obligations on that lazy Texas Saturday, we decided to drop by and see all this wonder for ourselves. Ironically, of course.

Exiting the freeway onto Wonder World Drive, we assumed that the roadside attraction would be on its eponymous road. It wasn’t—a mystery that turned out to be the biggest wonder of the day. However, we were able to follow the faded signs just well enough to find our destination, which was somewhere toward the center of the middle of nowhere. We felt like we had just driven onto the set of a slasher film.

I’ll save the horrendous details for another time. The “anti-gravity chamber” that was really just a cabin built on a bit of a slope. The rusty WWII-era machine gun about which the guide told me, “I have no idea why that’s there.” The “miniature train” that was, in essence, a couple of golf carts strung together with shoelaces and running on AAA batteries and broken promises. The decrepit, nay, dying animals in the “petting zoo.” The brochure that listed “Free Parking” as the fifth (fifth!) of ten highlights of the tour.

Yes, I’ll go into the details elsewhere. Probably in some grotesque fiction, which is the point I’m driving at in my miniature golf cart train. We had tried something new and spontaneous on a Saturday afternoon, and now we both have a fresh experience about which to write.

So the next time you’re driving around on a lazy Saturday, stop at your local version of Wonder World. Duck into a seedy bar. Eat at a one-star restaurant. Get inked up at that tattoo parlor down the dark alley. Try canned veggies instead of frozen. Shake it up a little.

And then write about it. Because it’s your duty as a writer.

Just don’t start with an analogy, because starting with an analogy is like … it’s like … you know what it is? It’s like ending with an analogy. Just plain bad.

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2 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more! ‘Cept for the “get inked up” part. You’re on your own on that one, David.

    • Thanks for reading. As for the inking, I haven’t yet taken that plunge myself. However, Austin is littered with tattoo parlors, and sometimes they beckon to me. Perhaps the WBN logo in the middle of my forehead? Some verse from Stevens across my back?

      We have, however, made the switch from frozen to canned vegetables. And we haven’t looked back.


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  1. […] that’s what we have to do, folks. As we’ve written about before, writers need to step out of their comfort zone now and then to experience different settings, […]

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