Sunday, September 9, 2012

What's in Your Fiction Besides Characters, Plot, and Conflict?

Reading an article, "Put Objects to Work in Your Fiction", in the September 2012 issue of The Writer, caused me to reflect on my own fiction.

In Where Is Papa's Shining Star? and its sequel, Finding Papa's Shining Star, I used a china doll as a shadowy but pivotal object in the plot. 'Alberta', named for Bobbie's father Albert who gave the doll to her, wasn't just a toy but rather...well, of course, I won't tell you what she really was! Suffice it to say she survived a lifetime's odyssey of intrigue, finally giving up her secret in FPSS.

The Showboat Affair uses a costumed teddy bear as a symbol of committment and also an emotional catharsis for one of the main characters. 

In The Face on Miss Fanny's Wall, an old photograph on the wall of a bordello-turned-museum sets off a dangerous journey into the past for Tessa Steele.

Dancing with Velvet uses a blue velvet dress which the protagonist, Celeste, believes symbolizes a turning point in her life.

In each case, something drives the plot and ultimate resolution of the story.

The article's author, Paola Corso (author of seven books of fiction and poetry), discusses objects of interest used by several well-known writers:
  • Alice Walker uses quilts in In Love and Trouble, Stories of Black Women.
  • Annie Proulx's Accordion Crimes actually names the object in the title of the book.
  • Hat, fruit, dresses, everyday objects found on a dressing table--all have found their way into pieces of writing.
I had to smile a bit as I read, deciding that with my use of dolls, dresses, and old photographs, I was in good company. And a new idea is already percolating since the speaker at a meeting I attended recently mentioned an object sewn into the lining of an old silver chest, the provenance of which is still unknown. But won't it make a good story?

Do buy the latest issue of The Writer and get more information for yourself. And if any of the above-mentioned novels catch your interest, you can preview them at my


Writing as Judy Nickles:
Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?
Finding Papa’s Shining Star
Dancing with Velvet
Writing as Gwyneth Greer:
The Showboat Affair
The Face on Miss Fanny’s Wall

1 comment:

K9friend said...

I never really thought about it before but you're right. Using a tangible symbolic object adds another layer to the story.

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