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Picture Moments

For the past eight years I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about Just Ella that resonates with my readers. Because it does. More so than any of my other books, Just Ella seems to get the job done in a way that I haven’t been able to repeat. My debut novel is still my most popular. Of all the book sales this month and for most month that don’t come directly after a new release, Just Ella will outsell all the others.

I’m sure its success is a conglomeration of many things, but I had an aha moment the other day. I was trying to right a scene near the end of The Swindler’s Daughter (Tales of Winberg: Book 3) and I knew which characters were there. I also knew where they were, but I wasn’t sure what needed to happen in that moment. That is, until I got a picture in my head. The picture was of the hero, sitting on top of a small hill, beside a tree. Green surrounds him and he has his back to us, silhouetted by the sun which is setting in front of him. I wanted my heroine to see that picture moment and then go sit beside him. So I based the scene on that—that moment of beauty and longing and connection.

It occurred to me after I’d done it that this particular approach was the one I’d taken for so many of the scenes during the writing of Just Ella. The moment when Ella finds Gavin’s letter and then walks slowly back to bed, the covers dragging on the stone floor behind her. The moment when she is crouched, sopping wet behind a water fall, her face pressed to the rock as tears stream down her cheeks. The moment she sees all those brightly colored scarves running over hands and under arms, binding couples together. The moment she gets married in the little village church, with unkempt but excited children perched in the window sills.

They were all picture moments.

I stole that term from my daughter. I have two teenage girls. One in involved in theater. The other is a dancer. As it turns out, my theatrically-inclined daughter landed a part in her school production that included a dance. Not only that, but after a few vague pointers from her director, it was pretty much left to her to come up with the dance. She is not a dancer. She is even less of a choreographer. As such, she enlisted my help, and I wisely enlisted the help of my dancer daughter. As our little ragtag trio went through, trying to choreograph a dance, dancer daughter pointed out that this was turning into a lyrical dance, and in lyrical, one of the main objectives is to create picture moments. Moments where the lines and the shapes and the movement come together with the song to create a beautiful picture. You could photograph that moment and it would be art.

So as I was writing this scene the other day, trying to create that picture moment with a thousand words (or more. Or less), I realized that my writing is at its best when I treat my story much like a lyrical dance, making sure that all throughout the telling, there are picture moments that will have impact, be memorable, and make people feel.

I’m hoping this will be a help to me as I move forward in my writing. It’s just a shame that it took me this long to recognize what might be the secret sauce in my writing.

Published inIndie AuthoringWriting Process

One Comment

  1. Mom Mom

    I love this Annette! It’s such a great picture moment!!! I love imagining you and the girls working together to choreograph the dance and you coming to this realization. May you forever have great picture moments to write from in your future!!

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