Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Writing of "Helping Hands"

The intent of this post is to give you a little insight into the evolution of "Helping Hands." First, if you haven't read the story, it's here. Then, you need to see the pictures as I first saw them.

The first thing I thought was "Wow. Could she have picked three pictures with less in common than these three!" Sorry, silk! Just being honest! =:^) I mean, we have a charming picture of a child's hand, an eye where the reflection is the most important item and a sensual (sort of) nude.

I was first drawn to the nude. With the obvious contrast of a nude in a cemetery, I decided that I couldn't treat it sensually. That left me in a rut. It was the most striking picture but I couldn't start with it.

Next, I turned to the picture of the hands. My previous story was about families so a dozen ideas went throught my head, all easy to do. Unfortunately none of them included the other pictures. Finally, the eye. Lots of opportunities to tie the sensual nude with the eye but that left out the hands. Once again, no idea.

Then I decided I needed to move outside the obvious connotations and maybe I could then see some connections. (of course, seasoned writers do this first thing. I'm still learning!)

I first wondered about the hands picture, which includes, obviously, a child. The phrase, "seeing things through a childs eyes" is fairly common. That's when the structure for the story hit me. It needed to focus on the child and his/her perception of something. That only left the nude to deal with.

I was still struck by the dichotomy of the nude in the cemetery. It is sensual while also being evil or dark. Since the focus of the structure was "through a childs eyes" the "sensual" was less fitting than the "evil" nature. If the nature of the relationships was evil, the headstone could then be the focus of the nude photo. Throwing out the sensual portion of the nude gave me free reign and everything clicked. Suddenly I had a nude woman waking up at the base of a childs headstone and the child had been murdered. Viola! A story about a child's murder that started in a cemetery.

I had great fun keeping the true nature of Joyces "extra power" a secret. Instead I focused on an established relationship (between Joyce and Adam) that the reader was experiencing as an outsider. That gave me full latitude to help the reader "feel" the experience of Jeremy and the supernatural relationship between Joyce and Jeremy.

Anyway, that was how "Helping Hands" developed. Hope you enjoyed it.