How A French Explorer Can Help You Write Better Fiction And Emails…

How’s it going? I’ve been jabbering/promising about a post about a French explorer.

Well, let’s get to it.

This post is going to be about a dude named Rene-Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle.


Robert LaSalle.

There we go, that’s more like it. But my spelling is probably shot on that one. I’ve also seen it spelled “Cavelier.” Oh well.

Robert was a French explorer, born in the 1600s, and only lived until about age 44. He explored portions of all (or nearly all) of what we call the Great Lakes now, and laid hold on the Mississippi River area for France, naming the whole lot “Louisiana.” They also called the French parts of Canada “New France” back then, too, but it is what it is.

LaSalle had one of the rottenest streaks of luck there ever was, that I know of.

His mission was to check things out down the Mississippi and set up routes for fur trading. All right, fine. One of the first boats the guy built, called The Griffon, was lost at sea–after being loaded down with furs.

Along the way, to build all these forts and do things like extend French military influence, LaSalle also borrowed a bunch of money. One of the first forts he built, called Crevecoeur (in central Illinois, where Peoria is now) was ditched by the soldiers.

LaSalle wanted to invade Mexico and pop a French colony on the Mississippi River. He got a group of four other ships built. He did get to see the Mississippi, but all the boats he’d built got run aground, sunk, and/or wrecked in some way. And they’d accidentally landed somewhere in Texas. Man alive.

He was killed when his crew turned on him. His body was left for, uh, wild animals.


Not going there.

Because it’s a good story, and…

I actually live in the county named for this guy (well one of them, there could be more LaSalle Counties out there). There’s a school in a town called LaSalle, LaSalle-Peru Township High School, that has a team called the Cavaliers. Hmm.

All right, what’s the point?

It’s time for me to deliver. What’s the lesson(s) to be learned for fiction writers and copywriters from a French fur trader?

Keeping goals in mind. LaSalle’s life was all about persevering through difficulty (except for the fibbing to the King of France about where the Mississippi actually started). The wrecked Griffon and the soldiers ditching a fort didn’t stop him from trying to continue his mission–there’s a bunch of lessons there (including about things like rejection and determination, too). This is not to say plans can’t be adjusted–even LaSalle did that, coming at things from another angle (and using a lot of other peoples’ money).

Fiction writers and copywriters can do the same.

Using absolutely anything as the topic for a fiction story, email, or what-have-ya. Sure this is history. You could set a character in this time for fiction, on one of LaSalle’s ships, or somewhere else. Or an email talking about LaSalle going on a beer run and returning only to find that everybody left the party (a detail I left out of the Fort Crevecoeur/Peoria Illinois area fort story). Oh, and I left out the beer, too. Don’t know what supplies La Salle went to pick up. Which leads me to my next point:

Relating these facts together, especially for copywriters. If you can tie things together, even if the tie is somewhat tenuous, you can make the unfamiliar familiar to the reader, and develop a connection (sort of like this post). For fiction writers, this would be more like getting your detail ducks in a row.

If you’re stuck for a topic, look to history. Even a small detail. Pick it apart, rearrange stuff, and put it back together after changing a piece here, there, and everywhere. And this is just one of hundreds of historical figures you could look up–who said you have to stick to the “cool” history kids/figures, like Columbus? Certainly not me, even though Columbus was pretty cool. Use whoever you’d like for this type of thing. And you don’t need a ton of details, either.

Until next time,



About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
This entry was posted in Creativity, Inspiration, Motivation, Fiction and Copy Decodes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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