Many elements are important if readers are to become absorbed in a story. Being able to visualize the setting where a story takes place is just one of those elements.
In Child of Desire, I used some settings with which I am very familiar since I have been to those places. Of course, because the story took place in the early 1900’s, my first-hand knowledge did not include the time period. That I needed to research.
The following scene from Child of Desire occurs on the swinging bridge that stretches across the Clinch River in Scott County, Virginia. (The name of the river was not provided in the story.)
“A single line of people stretched from the hill above the narrow swinging bridge, across the bridge, and to the grassy knoll above the schoolhouse. Every head was turned downward toward the river, every eye stared at the muddy, swirling water, and every face was somber. Amanda slowed to a walk and looked questioningly to her neighbors and friends. No one spoke.
The bridge swayed slowly from side to side with the movement of the crowd. The swollen river below roared and surged outside its banks.
In the center of the bridge, Mrs. Lawrence, Sam, and Mark stood clustered together. Sam held his mother in a tight embrace, and her head lay on his chest just below his shoulder. Her face was pale and tear-stained. Mark stood back from the railing and gripped his mother’s coat sleeve with one hand while he held the back of his neck with the other. He sobbed pitifully, and his shoulders shuddered as though he had suddenly been seized by a chill. Sam, standing a full head taller than Mark, reached around his mother intermittently to stroke Mark’s hair.”
Below is a picture of this swinging bridge with family members, Coleen Powers Walker, Johnathan Walker, and Jennifer Walker, as they bravely crossed to the other side. The picture was taken during our 1988 family reunion in Southwest Virginia.
This swinging bridge existed in the early 1900’s, the period in which Child of Desire takes place, and it is still there. Over the years the bridge has been reinforced and rebuilt to ensure the safety of those who cross.