Alice’s Restaurant

February 1, 2007

Capturing the Image

Filed under: Writing Craft — aliceaudrey @ 1:25 am

So often I have caught myself writing my way around an image.  I’ll have something clear in my mind, and end up building my story around it 

That doesn’t work well, as this round at FanLit Forever will testify.

The problem with an image is that it may contain all sorts of emotion and significance, but be completely lacking in GMC.  Worse yet, it may appear to have GMC, but when you try to write around it turn out to have the wrong GMC for the characters, or for the sort of story you are willing to write.

So what do you do with these fantastic images that kind of fit the story, but don’t actually move the story?

I say slip them in sideways.  Yes, I know I’m supposed to say cut them completely, but when I cut all of them I end up missing a lot of the punch I want in my writing.  So I’m going to try to keep the images, without necessarily making them the central focus.

For instance, should a particular portrait catch my attention, rather than have my character standing in the hallway looking at the preterite, I could have my character remember standing in the hall way looking at the portrait and comparing it to the real person sitting in the carriage next to her.  Rather than having my character go down to the airport only to leave again, having told the reader less than I would like to, I’ll have him packing the car and talk about the airport and what it was like to be unable to catch a plane.

I think I can get away with it.  In the next round, we will see.



  1. OK, now you’ve got me thinking about whether or not I did this in my own sub. I think if it serves a real purpose, you can get away with it. Otherwise, it runs the risk of just seeming like filler. Am I right?

    Comment by Kelly — February 1, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

  2. Yep. When people do it, it looks like filler. Or sometimes it looks like they started the story in the wrong place, if the effort to get the image comes at the beginning.

    In my case the whole flipping entry hung on the stupid image, which, when I got to it, got glossed over. Go figure. *shaking head sadly*


    Comment by aliceaudrey — February 1, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

  3. Isn’t this what we are doing with the required objects? I guess not unless we are trying to build the story around one of them. When this round is over, maybe you can give an illustration of what you mean.


    Comment by Laurie — February 2, 2007 @ 10:46 am

  4. I’ll be glad to.


    Comment by aliceaudrey — February 2, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

  5. Funny you should be talking about this.

    I enter the Alfred Hitchcock Mysterious Photo contest almost every month. They give you an image (photo) and you have to write a 250-word story about it. I’m always amazed at how different people see the same thing — very rarely is the winning story along the same lines as the one I wrote.

    But, only on rare occasions can I turn that small flash into a larger piece. . .and when they do get incorporated, it’s just not the same.

    Comment by Pam Skochinski — February 7, 2007 @ 11:16 am

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