Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Signs of the Times...

Patty and I just got back from our western odyssey—25 days towing the camper behind our Subaru as we toured Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. Along with the fabulous mountain scenery and wildlife, I became fascinated by some of the signs along the way.

One of the first, and coolest, was for Lost Springs, Wyoming. When we saw this, we had to do a double take. (The pic below is from 2007; when we went through, the population had quadrupled, to 4). But we were both going “Did that just say Population 4??? Gotta be the smallest town in America.”

And yes, my research shows that Lost Springs, WY does indeed have the distinction of being the smallest incorporated town in America. Salute!

There were some road signs in Montana that also caught my interest, mainly because I think the fellow who was in charge of naming the roads must have had a great sense of humor. How can you not chuckle at “Bad Route Road”?

But there was also Whoop Up Road (no pic available for this one, unfortunately), along with Cracker Box Road (again, no pic available—hey, we were doing 70 mph here…). 

These are signs that make you want to know the story behind them.  This one, near Hebron, ND, was definitely one of those:

Why Fort Sauerkraut, in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota? Inquiring minds want to know.

And then there were signs that made us go “OK, yeah… Never heard it put like that, but yeah…”

I’ve known a few people who could live under that sign as well… 

But the point of all this, rambling though it may be, is that these things caught our interest, and made us think, or wonder, or want to know more about them.

As writers, if we’re doing our jobs properly, that’s what we do as well. We leave signposts along the way in our stories, to make people want to know more—to keep reading and find out what it’s all about.  Because if the reader doesn’t care to know more, if all they see is something like this

Then that innate sense of curiosity and desire to know the rest of the story won’t kick in. So leave some interesting signs, like this one:

You won’t regret it, and neither will your readers.

Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler and author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight. He lives in upstate NY with his loving, lovely, and extraordinarily patient wife, who is gracious enough to encourage his writing habit, and even reads (and proofreads) his words despite the fact that she doesn't really like fantasy. That's love. He does not drink coffee, and neither owns nor is owned by any critters of the feline persuasion. His second novel, Desperate Knight, will be published on August 7, 2017 by Champagne Book Group.