Aug 27 2010

Giant Jack

Melissa Crytzer Fry

For a good two weeks, this mama jackrabbit hung out near our house. Even when we drove the truck in and out of the carport, she stayed put. Not sure if the shade from our house provided enough solace to quell any fears, or if she’d just gotten comfortable with the idea of having us around.

We’re lucky enough to have more than a dozen jackrabbits roaming our desert property. They are enormous – most of them bigger than our cats. Click to enlarge.

For Writers: You might think I’m a bit nutty, but when I look at this picture, the word that comes to mind is “comfort.” This bony animal with all its sharp edges, giant ears and eerie saucer-shaped eyes isn’t what one would call soft, cuddly, or comforting. I know. But when she let me get this close to photograph her, it made me think of comfort levels … how, when we tackle a new novel, we need to get comfortable with our characters. We need to get comfortable with our plot, our themes, new settings. In my current work-in-progres (WIP), I’m just getting to know my characters – rounding them out – and can only hope to achieve the same level of comfort that my jackrabbit mama did with me.

Aug 25 2010

Impaled Bat

Melissa Crytzer Fry

The phrase “blind as a bat” is apropos for this crazy photo I captured near our cattle gate. The saying is actually a misnomer, since nearly all bats have relatively good eyesight.  Even with eyes, they rely primarily on their sonar system (echolocation) to navigate in the dark (and catch their dinner). Their movements are so precise, they’re said to be able to avoid objects no wider than a piece of thread.

As such, I can’t quite explain how this happened:

This bat was discovered near our cattle gate, impaled by a nasty cholla “pencil” cactus. I can only imagine how the poor guy struggled to free himself before succumbing. Click to enlarge.

For Writers: Does your novel suspend disbelief in any way or defy conventional wisdom, like my bat photo? What would happen if you put a character in an uncharacteristic setting? Gave him or her an unexpected outcome? Keeping a reader engaged and surprised can help add suspense, but there is a fine line (piece of thread?) to heed.  Oftentimes reality (“it really happened”) is too difficult for a reader to digest.

Per Janet Burroway in Writing Fiction: “Young writers, offended by being told that a piece is unconvincing, often defend themselves by declaring that it really happened.” But credibility in words, she says, has almost nothing to do with fact.

Lesson learned? Sometimes reality is too absurd, too fantastical to translate to good fiction. But other times … other times you just may get away with manipulating a reader’s sense of reality by using the truth. Impaled bats included.