Sunday, April 20, 2014

Writing: Starting With the Mystery Element

This old tin box was one of the elements that inspired my current WIP.  When I first saw it at a yard sale, I didn’t know who the characters in the story would be or where the story would be set or even what time period, but I immediately was inspired to use the box and its contents as a clue. Why? Because just looking at it made me want to know more—like what was inside it and why had it been kept for so long? It really had very little value and was only moderately attractive.

I did know the deceased elderly woman who had owned the box. The woman's family had been moderately well off and she'd been quite attractive as a teen.  Also years ago the woman had told me that she’d been sent to finishing school in a larger nearby community. There she'd had a hot romance that ended in a turbulent and very brief marriage to a wealthy man.  After that she’d always lived alone in her family home.

I opened the box at the yard sale, then instantly bought it for two bucks and took it home.

Inside was a collection of valueless mementoes--but they all were neatly dated and labeled.  For a while I thought about organizing them by date, and then writing a midcentury historical romance based on them. Instead they became the backstory for my current WIP—a contemporary mystery where a teenage girl is trying to unravel a secret from her family’s past.

My main character spotted the closed box several chapters ago.  In the next scene, she finally gets to open it and look inside.  It’s been a lot of fun thinking about how napkins, soap bars and sugar packets can become vital clues. Also, knowing I was going to use these clues even before I had a plot or characters, challenged me as a writer.  But for me, the challenge is part of the fun.  

How about you? Do you know what the vital clues are before you start writing a story?  And how about your closets, do you have mementoes tucked away—things which someday may inspire stories?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reading this Weekend in Burlington

This Saturday I’m going to be reading from my novel MOONHILL as part of the Vermont SF Writer’s Series: Cold Mountain Stories—A Night of the Fantastic! It’s at Quarterstaff Games of Burlington. For more information check out Geek Mountain State's website. It should be a blast. If you have a chance to stop by, please make sure you introduce yourself to me. I love meeting my online friends in person.