Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Story Seed / Writing Tip # 5 - "Ordinary" Objects

For the next few months, every week my blog will be featuring 1) the tiny, real-life seed from which one of my stories unfolded and 2) a writing tip that helped the seed grow into a finished story. 

The Seed: In the bottom of the kids' dress up-box was an old green jacket that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. That sense of mystery was enough to get me writing! 

The name of the young artist is unfortunately lost in the mists of time.
The Book: Casey Webber, The Great (Annick, 1988 - novel, ages 8-11)

The Writing Tip: Even an ordinary object - like a jacket - can become a great story seed so long as you think about it in different ways. Some suggestions are:
  • Is the object associated with a sad time in a character's life? 
  • Is it something a character doesn't have but desperately wants?
  • Is it a threat? 
  • Is it part of a puzzle, something to be figured out in order to solve a mystery?   
  • Does it have a magical quality? 
  • Does it reveal something deeper about the central character?
  • Can the basic traits of the object be used in unexpected ways?
For this book, whenever Casey put on the jacket, he became invisible. There are so many different ways to think about the act of "disappearing".... a single story seed can sprout an entire vine laden with possibilities! 

              An interesting sideline to the writing of this book is that I spent several weeks doing a small but “active” bit of research. My hard work resulted in only one short line of actual text but when I visit schools, it's how I end my presentation. As the young artist who drew the picture above has depicted, writing can be fun in more ways than one!

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