Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mystery Pictures and Writing Puzzles


Have you ever seen those close up, really close up, pictures of familiar objects and had no idea what you were looking at? I'm giving you a less challenging mystery picture tonight. Do you know what it is? Let me know what you guess. Or it could be you know what it is at first sight.

Sometimes writing is like that. You might know your story and your characters from the very beginning all the way to the end, or your story and your characters can be mysteries you as the writer have to solve. Characters can't just walk on stage in a book without living a little life first. Well, maybe if a baby was just being born. Then I'd better know about the baby's mother or father or maybe the doctor who could be delivering  a baby for the first time. So many possibilities for every character - even those who aren't going to matter too much to the storyline.

For my major characters, I create character sketches and try to get them to start talking inside my head. But most novels have dozens of characters. Some only make cameo appearances and never darken your book's doorway again. And yet those characters have their moment to be real in your story. So I try to find a few details to make even the most minor character become somebody that, yes, you might see behind the store counter. Or as a nurse or firefighter. If you have a building in your story catch on fire, you need firefighters who know their business, to show up.  Or perhaps not, according to how you want your story to go. But if you create bumbling firefighters, you still have to make them come across as real persons.

Sometimes in a story, a gift character shows up. Wes was that kind of character in Scent of Lilacs. I can't remember planning Wes, but he rode his motorcycle into Hollyhill and ran out of gas money at just the right time. I really missed Wes when I started writing a new story that wasn't set in Hollyhill. So I came up with another Wes like character in Angel Sister - Graham. And I loved getting him to talk in my story just as much.

Sometimes writing a story is about allowing ideas to pop up out of the ground like these mushrooms. (Yes, you wer right if you guessed mushroom.) All that old stuff, those memories from a lifetime of living sink down into a bubbling pool of creativity inside your brain. Then a story rises to the top and if I'm ready, then I can try to grab it fast before it sinks away into that dark world of forgetfulness where the very best ideas always seem to want to hide out. 

Thanks for reading. I hope spring is popping up like these mushrooms in your neck of the woods. Now tell me, did you guess right? I hope I'm guessing right with the characters who are popping up in my new story. 

I'll be at The Bookstore in Campbellsville Saturday, April 13th, at 1 p.m. for a book signing and then at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest on April 20th, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST. That's in Bowling Green. If you're in either area, I hope you'll come by and say hi.

14 comments:

  1. I had NO clue and those things used to grow in my yard all the time!

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    1. All toadstools don't look like this one and you probably never took such an up close look, Flghtlss. I never know what those close-up pictures are when I see them in magazines.

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  2. YAY!! I was right mushroom or toadstool in spring or puffball in the fall of the year

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    1. You got it. The puffballs around here look different than this. They don't have stems. But the do sometimes split and leave ridges in the surface like this one. Thanks for guessing.

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  3. Thanks for such an interesting read. And I couldn't believe those were muchrooms. Looking forward to your interview on my blog in August. I'm reading and trying to get to know you so I can ask intelligent questions. I've read Angel Sister and Words Spoken True and loved both of them. Hope to order Scent of Lilacs unless you have an AR that you'd like me to read and report on. email: mjnobles(at)charter(dot)com.

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    1. Glad you came over to visit, Juanita. I'll be getting in touch. So nice of you to read my books and I'm glad you enjoyed them. You're right that they are very different kinds of stories. And I'm sure you always ask intelligent questions. The problem is me giving intelligent answers.:)

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  4. Wish I could be there at one of those signings, Ann! Loved your mystery photo! At first I thought it was part of a brick surround on a patio or garden.

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    1. Good guess, Sue. Somebody else guessed the bottom of a tennis shoe. Another guess was rising yeast bread. Most people figured it out, but it was fun. Wish you could be there too, Sue. I'm going to message you tomorrow.

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    1. You picked right, Kathleen. But it's been interesting the ideas of what it might be by those who didn't see mushroom when they looked at it. Maybe I'll do more mystery pictures in the future.

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  6. Hello Ann, I would never have guess the pic as a mushroom, glad you told us what it was. My first glance made me think of a sidewalk...
    Have fun at the book signing , wish I could be there but I do have one to look forward to as Beverly Lewis is coming to my area this weekend.
    thanks for sharing your time with us.
    Paula O

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    1. Would love seeing you at the signings too, Paula, but I'm sure you'll enjoy meeting and talking with Beverly Lewis. She came to our area a few years ago, but I wasn't able to go see her. The guesses on the picture have been fun from those who didn't see mushroom when they looked at the photo. The things others have guessed have made me look at the picture with new eyes. Interesting.

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  7. I did guess mushroom...yay for me! Writing is interesting. You are definitely talented Ann, just in being creative in your blog. Have a great week...Linda

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  8. Thanks, Linda. And good guess. A lot of people guessed the right answer, so my photo wasn't quite as mysterious as some of the really close up ones you somethings see. I'm going to try another one soon. Thanks for reading and hope you have a great rest of the week too.

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Thanks for joining the conversation. I like hearing what you have to say. Thanks for dropping by.