It Starts With a Picture


It Starts With a Picture

By Nandy Ekle



The way to start a story is with a picture.

I love photographs. I love to look back at my babies, all the homes I’ve lived in, cars I’ve driven, places I’ve been . . . Just different times in my life. We have wedding pictures, anniversary pictures, pregnancy pictures, pictures of illness, pictures of storms, mountains, oceans, clouds, pets, and snow. And we have pictures of children sleeping, playing, bathing, reading, fighting, and hugging. And each and every picture has a story.

Another kind of picture I like is something obscure in a magazine. I have never been there, I did not see it first hand, but it sparks my imagination. I can look deep into the glossy print and play-like I see myself running through the tall brown grass, dark clouds in the horizon and the sun behind me. Or maybe I’ walking the halls of a beautiful ancient estate looking for my lover. I wind my way through enormous trees following fairies and gnomes. I cringe under the cover of my giant canopy bed as the ghost tears its way through the room in the middle of the night.

So, as a writer, my job is to transport my readers to the same picture I’m seeing. I want them to live through the same adventure I’m having, and feel the same things I’m feeling. As soon as they turn to the first page of my story, I want to grab their hand and shout, “Come with me!” I want them to stay close to me and trust that I will get them through to the other side. And in this journey, they will want something, love something, lose something, learn something, and win something.

At the end, I gently drop their hand, kiss them on the forehead, and invite them to come again. And this is the pay off.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

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