My post today is about “depth and richness.” [i] And as usual, the road getting here is twisting and curving. This particular writing thought path started for me this last August, with a Jackie Zortman post on her blog, Jackie’s Mountain Memos. It is the most lovely post, and the link is provided below[ii]. Besides Jackie sharing her past memories and her present day touchstone to her family, there are several lovely oil lamps pictured in “This Little Light of Mine.” I’ve collected a couple lamps myself from antique stores, and I find the unknown memories and possible past family events associated with the lamps, intriguing and compelling when it comes to story-imaginings.
Then recently at a High Desert Book Festival discussion on what inspires authors to write about the desert, I talked about those courageous and tough individuals that came before us, how tough it must have been, and how lucky we are to have benefited from their pioneering efforts. (Such as in my current Rhodes series.)
Then from another direction,[iii]—there are past discussion I’d read or participated in—on whether pottery was Art versus craft. I always sided with art, and now as I move more down my writing road, once again I’m siding with art. So, how can we make our writing-tapestry[iv], more alive, more colorful, and more textured? More artful? Fancy flowery talk I know—but at the core, I think, a true and solid goal.
In a nutshell, the key here for me is how the past is influencing, determining, and controlling how our characters are experiencing their present. And on all levels, physically, emotionally, and proactively even–such as in determining what they do in the action part of our story. Indeed, I very much think our metaphorical writing tapestries then become more colorful, more textured–more a work of art.
In my reading, I love it when the author brings the past into a current story; which for me, not only brings an emotional touch of nostalgia to the tale, but also a richness to the current world happenings–as they are layered upon past events–and the contrasts between those two worlds. The past is no longer just background for what’s about to happen—but key to understanding current world character’s thoughts, emotions, and motivations. Why the heck they’re doing what they’re doing.
My bottom line point is, past events need to come through on a personal level through our characters eyes and heart. Not cardboard characters with simply narrative pasts, but living, breathing pasts that are part of their being, and make them full-flushed-alive as they experience their present. I know, I’m talking about characters as if they are actually alive. They are, aren’t they?
Happy writing trails.
[i] From Webster online–Tapestry: A piece of thick textile fabric with pictures or designs formed by weaving colored weft threads or by embroidering on canvas, used as a wall hanging or furniture covering. Used in reference to an intricate or complex combination of things or sequence of events.
[iii] Trying to figure out if and how to get back into pottery.
[iv] I know the picture is not a tapestry, but a rug–but it is the closest visual I have.
14 thoughts on “Metaphorical Tapestries…”
Past, present, future. Isn’t that what we writers are bringing to our readers? As you so eloquently said about a character’s past, he must have a past in order to appear here in the present. But he is going somewhere as well… The future. His life will carry on or at least our readers hope he has a future. It’s that life, that world, we create for him and our readers, and for ourselves, the writer, that makes writing so alive. What a great post, Mad.
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Yes, Gayle, you hit the nail on the head, with that’s what makes our writing “alive!” The more I think about it, I’m realizing that’s why I don’t finish some books, or skim them–they aren’t alive–from the past on through the present. Hmmm…
I agree, Mad. The past, whether actual history or a character’s legacy, should always inform the future. Perhaps what makes it so engaging in fiction it that it’s often true in real life.
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Yes, Miko, agree completely, and you know how important the past is with your A Petal in the Wind trilogy! The richness from the past is fantastically done.
What an honor it is to have one of my past blog posts give you inspiration for this wonderful post. I agree that including the past in our characters adds interest to their personalities. Thank you for including a link to my earlier blog post. That’s very generous, as most authors are to fellow writers.
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Amazing sometimes, Jackie, where sparks of inspiration come from! And for me, the path often really is rather convoluted(smile) And some posts stick with me – as “This Little Light of Mine” has. Now, when I look at my small collection of un-dusted(sp) lamps on the mantel, I really do get a little lump in my throat thinking about unknown possible pasts.
Such a remarkable post, Madeline. Deep, thoughtful, and tremendously creative. Thank you for inspiring such thoughts n our writings. Bringing in the past can help to create context and round out characters, settings, and eras
Thank you sooooo much, Jill, for your kind words. This “writing-stuff” certainly has become an interesting journey, and it’s so nice to know, I have friends like you traveling along this journey with me…
That was a lovely post, Madeline.
Thanks for stopping by and your kind words, Marilyn! Especially since I know from FB you’re very busy with your blog tour and events… I haven’t been to every one of your tour stops, but making some, and enjoying.
Madeline, you hit the nail on the head. (Not sure if this is the correct saying but you know what I mean.) What is the difference between a tapestry and a rug, by the way? I thought that a tapestry was a rug that one hangs on a wall. I was moved by Jackie Zortman’s post and am not surprised that it inspired you to write yours.
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Thank you, Alice for stopping by. I’m told it’s the weaving process, whether textured, and have a picture versus a pattern, and whether designed to be hung or put on floor? Probably not a distinction worth noting or caring about! And yes, Jackie’s post just hit some kind of chord–we are clearly on the same writing inspirational wave length…
Madeline, very inspiring. It’s so important to round out our characters, and giving them a past is an important way to do that.
Thanks for stopping by, Maggie! I’m with you in that I think interweaving our character’s past into their current actions definitely rounds out their personalities–and their actions, I think.