Friday, November 21, 2008


This photo by Andif has, I think, interesting contrasts to make a writer--or anybody--think. There's the fuzziness of the mist in the background vs. the sharpness of the branch in the foreground. There's the red vs. the green. The light vs. the dark. An I missing some contrasts in my list?

Once I had a manuscript to which my editor responded by saying, "You need to make your heroine stronger." I had to sharpen her, like that branch, toughen her up a bit, darken her a little, give her some edges so she didn't fuzz into the background. Finally, it was easy to tell who was the focus of the story.

Once, I turned in a book to which the same editor said, "You picked the wrong villain." Oops. So I had to fade that dark branch into the background and shine light on another branch that had been hiding in plain sight in the background all along.

This photo brings up all kinds of manuscript stories and issues for me, but I'll stop with just those two. Oh, heck, no I won't. See that spot of diffuse light in the center? That kind of thing just appeared mysteriously in a manuscript one day and demanded a certain amount of attention. And darned if it didn't enrich the story, just as that light enriches Andi's photo.

And *now* I'll stop. See you in the comments for coffee or tea.


AndiF said...

One more contrast -- summer leaving, fall arriving ... which might be the tension a writer feels over really liking a character and knowing that she has to go to keep the plot moving forward.

And to change the subject, weekend! And short week ahead! And oh boy, stuffing!

Maria Lima said...

Morning, Andi--yes, yay weekend!! And a lovely bonjour to those coming later.

Love the contrast tree. One of the things I enjoy most about creating characters and situations, is forming the layers. Humor during a particular tense situation; darkness behind the good guy's motives (just a wee bit); a rightness and righteousness to the antagonist...who is not necessarily "the bad guy". All of these things make for a interesting book.

Ta for now, off to the salt mines of the new book for a bit.

Keep warm (it's 26 here) and have a fabulous weekend!

Lisa M said...

Morning Andi--Got to sleep till six. Woohooo. Hubby up early with the critters. Love is a many splendored thing.

Waves to Maria.

Contrast, texture is what I love in photos and art.

What I'm still learning to do is create contrast in my writing. My early work was and probably still is foggy, fuzzy. Nancy's comparison of her writing with the elements in a photo works really well for this visual learner.

For me, it's been a layering process to create characters that are significantly different. In that way it's been more like painting than photography. Then to have enough of the right setting details to bring that part of the story in focus.

Will be fascinated by what others have to say.

Sonboy home for the day and look forward to Mom/Son time. A trip to Target is planned. This morning Dad/Son time--Lions Pancake Breakfast. The excitement never ends.

Bono--SNOW up your direction. Cuddle up and stay warm.

Sensational Saturday to All.

Nancy P said...

Ooh, yes, Andi, good addition to the contrast list.

"And oh, boy, stuffing!"


Maria, love what you said about humor during a tense time, etc. Yes, yes, yes.

Lisa, "sonboy." Awww.

Kelly McCullough said...

Interesting post, Nancy, it made me think about story--fun.

I've decided that stills don't make a great metaphor for the way I think about story, not as dynamic through time as I'd like. I tend to want to start the reader out in a tattered fog, with sharp sudden moments of clarity that slowly form the picture around them until they think they've got it all nailed down. Then, the last few scenes blow the fog away and reveal a picture that has all the elements they've seen but slightly rearranged so that it is both not really what they expected at all and exactly as it should be. That's the plan at least.

Anonymous said...

Morning, all. Loving the story comparisons. Brain too foggy to contribute. Off to a craft fair this morning - still no snow, although they're calling for it. Will return later to catch up. And hopefully will be more awake!

Enjoy your Saturday -

maryb said...

coffee pleeeeeeeze!

Maria, I like a lot of darkness in the good guy. I like characters who are shades of gray and I don't mean light gray.

I'm trying to think of an example but - I need coffee. Ian Rankin's John Rebus comes to mind.

Lisa, have fun with sonboy (lol), and everybody else have a good day.

bono said...

Huh, interesting topic. It reminds me of a prof in college who was talking about the difference in how people experience life. Some have highs and lows, others seem to experience life on an even keel. While the even keelers don't experience the lows of life, they also don't get to experience the highs. So, even in our lives contrast plays an important role. I found his discussion affirming because I'm a highs and lows person. ;-)

Beth, have fun in FL. I look forward to FL winters when I retire, so I'm living vicariously through you this winter.

Lisa, I'm still happy dancing. Only a dusting of snow overnight. The predicted foot to foot and a half never happened in my part of the woods. That's the thing about lake effect. Hard to make accurate predictions.

Busy day. I'm looking forward to putting my feet up and watching a video, "Tropic Thunder." Slim pickings at the library today. lol