This writing trail of thought started the other night when hubby and I watched the movie, How to Steal a Million, with Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn. We settled on this particular movie because I like looking at Peter, and hubby likes looking at Audrey. That being a point of enjoyment, I nonetheless snarkily(sp) commented several times during the movie that it was a stupid plot and the story moved far too slowly. Hubby didn’t complain at all—Audrey was quite striking, indeed!

Well, the next morning I woke up with a film-cut-like  picture of Peter and Audrey, contorted together in the broom closet(a classic scene in movie history I think). And I wondered why I had that picture in my mind, given I’d complained about the movie?

Some background information about me is, for some of the best novels I’ve ever read, or movies I’ve seen, an actual photo-type image remains with me that I can call up into my mind’s eye. And often they popup when waking up. It’s more than scenery, or location, or character features, or clothes…but a real photography type snap. There have, of course, been many novels I’ve read, enjoyed, even loved, that did not have mental pictures associated with them. Some examples of ones that did are:

  • Murder on the Orient Express, book and movie(s) dénouement scenes in the dining car, and/or out in the snow. For me, these are classic pictures left behind—and my all time favorite one is of David Suchet.[i]
  • Several real-person pictures of Boo Radley—from the book and the movie To Kill a Mocking Bird. (of course, in the movie, the fantastic actor Robert Duvall may have had something to do with the leftover picture(smile))
  • And a great and fun-filled–even though there’s a murder–picture I can still see is Friendly Farm itself, in Murder at Friendly Farm by Jacqueline Vick, and then another picture from Friendly Farm of Santa in the corn maze ,
  • Miss Marple sitting in her drawing room,
  • The Penguin Pool Murder by Stuart Palmer— a picture inside the New York Aquarium with Hildegarde Withers standing there remains quite vividly with me. (Even though I’ve forgotten “who” actually did the murder and I’ve never been to that aquarium…but what a vivid picture I still have)

These are all wonderful fiction novels and movies, so why after my snarkiness during How to Steal a Million, did I retain such a vivid picture? So I’m thinking there must be some storytelling reason(not just just eye-candy), why that picture from How to Steal a Million remains with me, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

But a more pertinent question remains with me—in my own writing, do I want a real snapshot like picture left behind as one of my goals? Or does that just happen given the nature of the story? Or, or? And all the time? Can you even make leftovers happen?

Despite my advanced age(smile), I am still Pollyannaish[ii] at heart, especially in my reading and movie watching inclinations. As a kid, I hated fairytales with bad endings(which were many it seemed)—and after seeing Bambi at the movie theater as a child, never knowingly watched a children’s Disney film again. Further, if it seems like a dog is going to get killed–won’t read, watch, or finish a book or movie if started. Indeed, hope, happiness, the world goes on unharmed, and bad guys get it in the end (even if in an ironic way) are my cup of tea.

So, after writing all these thoughts out—my answer is YES—I want to leave endearing leftovers. Not just thoughts or emotions, but real snaps that bring a smile to the reader’s face. [iii] Hmmm.

Definitely interested in your thoughts…

Happy Writing Trails!

[i] Just downloaded latest Hercule Poirot by Sophie Hannah, and looking forward to visiting the picture of Hercule(probably David Suchet) in my mind’s eye. FYI from Ecosia search—The Killings at Kingfisher Hill the latest Hercule by Sophie Hannah https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Hannah She’s written 4 so far https://sophiehannah.com/

[ii] Pollyanna is a 1913 novel by American author Eleanor H. Porter, considered a classic of children’s literature. (again, per my search engine Ecosia)

[iii] Back to another review of Never Forgotten to see if maybe there are some leftovers!

23 thoughts on “Leftovers”

  1. Fascinating post, food for thought and definitely for dessert. Many writers “see” scenes they are writing and just jot down what they are watching in their minds, so a visual prompt is always welcome. T’would be interesting to compare how exactly a scene in a book is transferred to the screen. Thanks for the offbeat train of thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you found my post of some writing value. I do wonder sometimes, Jill, if I’m not going off into never-never land (I did like Peter Pan as a child!(smile)) I agree, on the book to screen question in that I’ve taken screenplay classes and gotten books–and never could get the hang of it. And then there’s the producer, director…
    Again, glad you enjoyed the dessert offering! (an aside–in one of my books I spelled desert as dessert throughout the book! Thank goodness for wonderful editors…)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Even if a writer doesn’t consider what he or she might be leaving behind, there might be a moment in the book that stays with the reader. But not everybody sees or feels the same thing. So the best the writer can do is tell a good story, frame it in a good setting, fill it with interesting characters, and let it go. The reader will come back if they find an indelible picture between those pages. Thanks, Mad, for the great think piece.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When I read I’m always picturing every scene as if it were a movie in my mind. I kind of thought everyone did that till I wrote something about it and found that a lot of people don’t. But I’m not sure I take away a single image for any particular work. Interesting piece, Madeline.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Madeline, I loved your images. (And I’m happy you like Friendly Farm.) I, for one, will always have a specific image in my head of Route 66 after reading your novels–Route 66 as a living thing. I, too, loved the David Suchet version, though I was surprisingly pleased with the Kenneth Branagh version. Finally, I couldn’t even watch an animated dragon film because I knew the villagers were going to try to hurt it. I think we grow in compassion as we get older.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can see Friendly Farm as I reply here! And that picture of Santa!
      I like Kenneth Branagh, to, especially the huge mustache! And so glad, Jackie, for your kind words about Route 66, pleases me very much that I’ve brought Route 66 alive a bit in your mind’s eye…

      Yes, age has changed me a lot in several ways, but on the animal part, I’m told when as a kid (5-8) period while sitting on the table in a pediatrician’s office, he had picture’s of fairy tales on the wall, and my grandmother was there and said aloud The Three Little Pigs tale, and I burst into crying with one little pig going wee(sp) wee wee all the way home… Sappy even than (smile)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Madeline, I OFTEN have a snapshot or two of images I “see” when I read after I finish. One of my favorite authors (now dead) is Mary Stewart. I can still “see” moments in both “This Rough Magic” (my favorite), “Nine Coaches Waiting,” and “Airs Above the Ground.” I reread them often, and eagerly anticipate those moments, and feel satisfaction when they come. Recently I read “Kindred” and can still picture that next-to-the-last scene/moment of horror in the book! Still gives me chills when I remember it. And the same goes for a scene in The Thirteenth Tale! (Shiver) Thanks for the fun and pensive post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew we were kindred spirits, Jackie! So glad I’m not the only one seeing snapshots in my brain! Kindred and The thirteenth tale sound a bit scary for me just from your verbal quickie desctription. Made me shiver myself. WOW! Your two sentences were somehow loaded and carried a lot of emotion. Going back and reading a couple more times…

      I think it’s great you’re reading like Paul is writing–color movies!!! I’m going to think that way in my next reread/rewrite!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I also picture scenes in my mind when I read an engrossing book. Sometimes they’re characters (who usually look like people I’ve seen onscreen) or settings. What impresses me is that it always happens when the description is enough and not overdone, allowing my imagination to fill in the rest. Although maybe I have that backwards and letting readers fill in the blanks gets us engrossed?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As Jill said, what a fascinating conversation you have started. I always see movie-like scenes when I write – and read. Like Paul, I thought everyone did. And those movies you mentioned; I recall those snapshots. Especially Audrey Hepburn and those Givenchy outfits – and Peter O’Toole’s blue eyes! I have very photographic images from reading Mary Stewart’s ‘Madam, Will You Talk?’ set in the south of France. Those images inspired my first mystery novel – that I have never completed!
    You have started a never-ending chat here! Well done, Mad! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rosemary, that Mary Stewart book was what started me on my mystery-loving career. I was about 13 and went into our local Burbank library and asked the librarian for a recommendation. “Madam, Will You Talk?” is the one she recommended. I read the rest of her books in that library and since then have been collecting and rereading them. NOW!!! They are even on Audible as audiobooks. (I have and love those too!)


  9. Yes, Miko! I think that’s very much part of the secret, how much the reader fills in to produce a snapshot? And yes, again, if there’s a movie and a book, the snap uses the movie actor in the picture I think…


  10. Oh, Rosemary, those blue eyes are such a pleasure to see (and keep a snap of!) He and Richard Burton, what a combination–Becket, what a movie for the eyes!(smile) Yes, I’m very much enjoying everyone’s input, on what they’re “seeing” when writing, and then the leftovers. I’m also feeling not as goofy as I was when I started this post, Rosie. And as I mentioned to Jackie, definitely think I’m heading to Amazon right now to download a Mary Stewart novel. I so hope to read your first mystery novel one day…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Patricia, and, yes, tell their friends about the snapshots they have in their brain!!!–indeed, I have several endearing Storyville pictures in my mind. But most of all, I have a “feel” of and for the town, a familiarity which is very nice. I do have a snapshot type picture of the house where Kate lives… I’m thinking more and more that the type of tale has a lot to do with the leftovers…more thinking on my part(smile)


  11. Great post, Madeline! Like Patricia, I’d love for my readers to wake up with a mental image of one of my stories. And I’d love to compare their images with mine.

    I also can’t read a story where an animal is killed. I had to tell one of my critique partners that I couldn’t read more of her story after she killed a dog. My explaining that readers hate it when authors kill animals did not sway her. But she accepted my decision with grace.


  12. Oh, Maggie, I’m thinking telling an author they would be turning off readers is a good thing. Oh well, it’s hard taking advice you don’t like, even when it’s good!(smile) And yes, I’m going to take the snapshot leftover to account in my editing… Thanks for stopping by, love hearing your perspective on writing!


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