Monday, June 28, 2010

MONDAY MUSINGS: The Ah HA Moments Of Discovery

I love how a story goes from a nebulous idea to something real. It takes on a life of its own, the characters become real with quirks you didn’t even know. Or if you’re writing a trait I love it when there’s that ah-ha moment and you know why the character has that foible.

The story I’m writing now, for instance. My heroine would finger her pendant. That’s how I saw her. I didn’t think anything of it other than I knew it was silver with a moon and a howling wolf it had something green on it but I didn’t pay attention. I’ve seen pendants similar and was probably channeling the Pyramid catalog. More scenes go by and I’m enjoying this story. A lot. Enter the hero, who I might add, is one hawt guy. As he walks up to her she again reaches for her pendant, but not just because it’s a nervous affectation, but also because it became hot to the touch—enough that she felt it was burning her skin. Hmmm. Where did that come from? I haven’t a clue other than I now knew it had something to do with the hero. It’s still not totally clear what the deal with this pendant but I’m enjoying getting clues.

It was the same with the gatepost in her yard. I knew as I was writing it was a gatepost and at the time it was a *prop*. The heroine is also a wildlife photographer and one of the ways she relaxes is by playing the guitar in the evenings. The cabin is some distance from anywhere, which makes sense for the story. She tends to pat this gatepost now and then. She also sees wildlife outside her gate where she sits to play her music. So this animal has been showing up frequently. In one scene, she’s gone into the house but is looking out the window at the animal, which is eyeing the fence and gate. I make another discovery. The gatepost is actually a totem. Who knew? I didn’t until that moment.

The totem was carved by a cousin who is Native American, and the top of the totem is a male wolf showing it’s teeth, the next figure is of a woman, hair blowing in the wind and two hands, palms up and in one is a moon and the other a green butterfly, or lunar moth. Under that is a female wolf with a cub and a baby Lynx playing.

I actually sat down and drew what it was although I didn't have a way to picture it here.

So now I understand the pendant better and I know the meaning of the totem figures. The fact remains, I didn’t plan on these objects when I thought of the story. I usually have an idea, a what if…Then the characters come together and the general story line. I know the ending, the enemy, some of the general issues. It lives in my head for a good while before I start typing.

With this particular story, quite a bit of research was needed. I have tons of notes on the area, on facets of the premise, her line of work—trust me, I’m very much an amateur photographer so getting the correct equipment she uses is important. And of course, I did quite a bit of research on the Native American tribes of the area.

For me, it’s fun to make discoveries along the way when writing a story and it’s happened numerous times with several stories. It's one way I know my characters or world are now real to me.

What about when you’re writing? Do you have those moments of discovery?

Couple of things to announce. Kate Douglas has generously decided to award a book to every person who commented on her blog from Friday to Sunday. For those of you who haven't left an email addy, contact me at siamckye at with your address and I will pass it on to Kate. She will then contact you as far as your mailing address and books available.

 WEDNESDAY'S guest Blogger, Marie Force, with her newest Romantic Suspense series: Fatal Affair.

FRIDAY, July 1st, Kathyrne Kennedy and an excerpt of her fabulous new book, Fire Lord's Lover!

My apologies to her fans who stop by today expecting to see Kathryne. Due to a glitch we had the wrong dates. Stop back by Friday-Sunday. We will be giving away copies of Fire Lord's Lover. 
Wolf print is by a favorite artist of mine. If you wish to see some of her work click here.


Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like a very intriguing book. I will say I was expecting her to be playing a Native American flute instead of a guitar, nice twist.

Thoughts in Progress

KC Kenney said...

Great Topic Sia! I think those moments are my favorite when I am writing, and at the same time, they are the ones that give me the most trouble! I write them down and then realize that something previously had foreshadowed the event, and now have to re-think how to work in the next plot points I had set forth. But that's the challenge of writing - and the fun, because you get to be in charge of what happens!

Kate Douglas said...

Thanks, Sia! I'm rushing off to an appointment, but wanted to thank you again for allowing me to blog with you! As I told you, my publisher sent me a huge box of books I wasn't expecting, and I'd love to "share the bounty" with those who left comments with my post. I'll look forward to hearing from you with names and information!

Judi Fennell said...

Oh, I just love when stuff like that happens. When you put something in, usually as a fly-away thing, then, bam! It becomes important to the story. I had a scene like that in the current WIP. I took it out, I put it back in, I took it out, I moved it around, I took it out...

It ended up making it back in the story a little later on but was the scene I needed to do the big reveal. Very important. I've learned to trust my instincts which is why I knew it had to go somewhere!

Have fun with the story!

Olivia Cunning said...

This kind of thing happens to me all the time, Sia. I've come to accept it as the norm and trust my writer's intuition and subconscious. It knows what it's doing.

Sounds like an intriguing novel you're writing. I can't wait to read the finished product.

VA said...

It's like peeling back the layers of a character. The longer you spend with them the more you know about them.

I tend to have more characterizations discoveries than material object placement discoveries. I think it is one of the things that makes writing fun.

It's like going on a walk you've done a hundred times and seeing something new.

~Sia McKye~ said...

That's a good way to put it Vivian. I find it amazing and fun.

Elle J Rossi said...

All the time. I live for Aha moments!! There is nothing quite like them.

Sun Singer said...

I also like these kinds of discoveries. I need a fact, and toss something into the book. Later I notice it links to something else I tossed into the book.

My muse is doing this, I can tell, and she loves synchronicity.

Make sure to tell us what a hot pendant signifies as soon as you find out. (I can guess.)


Roxane B. Salonen said...

Sia, right now I have my YA novel sitting in my head. I'm in collecting mode. I've written only the first couple lines so far, having started over from previous versions. This one is feeling more real to me and I have summer plans (research trips and experiences) that I think will give me what I need to get off and running. It's exciting, this build-up time. Lot of mental energy being expended. I'm enjoying dwelling in the places of my youth I hadn't visited in a while, if only in my mind, as I ready myself to get the first three chapters down (my goal by summer's end).

Kat Sheridan said...

The books sounds wonderful, and isn't it grand when you realize you've put things in the story, and later realize why? LOVE those moments!

~Sia McKye~ said...


It's been fun especially with the pendant *revealing* itself in various ways.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Roxane! Good to see you here! Interest that you mention *collecting* mode. I have those too. Be fun to see what comes after you've *collected* Enjoy your summer.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, It is fun. You've read parts of it. And it IS fun.