Tag Archives: Writing

Pictures That Need an Explanation

Photo by William Crochot from Wikimedia Commons, license # CC-BY-SA 4.0.
Photo by William Crochot from Wikimedia Commons, license # CC-BY-SA 4.0.

I have a folder full of pictures that I’ve found online at various points.

Today I wanted to share some of the unusual, funny, and unique ones with you.

If you’re a writer and you find inspiration in one of them, feel free to grab it. I’d love to see what story or poem ideas you come up with for it.

All unlabelled images are stock photos and can be used for any purpose. William Crochot’s picture can be used, too, as long as you credit him and Wikimedia Commons as well as include the license number above.

The Statue Guy

The statue guy above has been running through my imagination for months now.

My first thought when I saw him was, “how long does it take to scrub all of that makeup off?”

My second thought was that sniffing a flower just might be the first thing that a statue who suddenly came to life would do!

Everything would be so new and unfamiliar to him that it makes sense for him to stop and marvel at the small things for a while.

pexels-photo-159885-largeThe Abandoned House

Abandoned homes make me sad.

I think about all of the years people spent living in them. There was a time only a few generations ago when many folks spent their entire lives in the same area.

Were they happy years or miserable ones?

Did the people who lived there ever wish to move elsewhere? If they wished for it, did their wish come true?

How many babies were born in that house?

How many people died there?

Why was it abandoned? Are the owners still alive?

If you stepped inside of it, what secrets would the walls whisper to you?

thursday-blogs-2A Woodland Sacrifice

This picture makes me shudder.

There is something unnerving about the juxtaposition between the bare skull and the healthy, young woman who is holding it up that I don’t like to dwell on.

Did she slaughter the animal who once used that skull?

Is this some kind of ritual?

Is she going to be blamed for something that wasn’t her fault?

The possibilities are endless. I haven’t been able to come up with a satisfying story to explain what is going on here, but maybe someone else can.

Sad Cat in a Gift Bag

pexels-photo-141496-largeThis one is just plain silly.

Cat owners, can you explain it?

I would expect a cat to be thoroughly pleased by the presence of a gift bag.

It seems like the perfect place to hide while you’re waiting to swat at anyone who wanders too close to your sharp, little claws.

Why, then, does this cat look sad?

Does she need more tissue paper to cover herself up with?

Has someone refused to give her any treats today?

Or is she actually happy? Is this simply how her face and ears developed?

thursday-blogs-3Lick My Lips

Finally, let me bring you lips covered in sprinkles.

This one makes me feel hungry.

My first thought was, “did the model get to lick the sprinkles off of her lips once the photoshoot ended?” I sure hope she did!

If this were a book cover, I’d expect it to be a young adult romance novel.

The protagonist would be fifteen and falling in love for the first time with a mysterious, new neighbour.

The rainbow sprinkles might be a subtle hint that this story has a lesbian, bisexual, or transgender protagonist. I would not expect her sexual or gender identity to play a big role in the plot, though. She’d be whoever she was, and everyone would be okay with it.

One possibility for the actual conflict in the plot could be the main character conquering an eating disorder. The storyline could open with her trying to eat desserts again without feeling horribly guilty about it.

I would definitely pick this imaginary book up and read the blurb. It caught my eye right away.


What were your first thoughts when you saw these pictures? How do you think the stories hiding in them should be told?

I Reserve the Right to Write About You

Character Writing Blog PictureThe funny thing about being a fiction writer is how easy it is for your everyday life to seep into your work.

There have been multiple times when I started working on a story with a specific personality in mind for a character. Once the plot starts flowing, though, the character starts shifting into someone new.

Sometimes they’ll say or do something that is eerily similar to stuff that I’ve seen in real life. These scenes don’t always make it to the final cut, but in some cases they turn out to be exactly what the storyline needed to flourish.

Friends, family members, acquaintances, and even perfect strangers can be endless sources of inspiration. Listening to the way they talk has helped me to figure out how to word the dialogue in my stories.  Seeing how people of different ages and from various backgrounds react to the same bad (or good!) news has also been enlightening. You can learn so much about how the average person thinks by listening quietly to what they say and how they say it.

No, I don’t usually borrow full anecdotes from the people I care about when I’m writing. Normally it’s something small like a phrase or a funny, unexpected reaction. Even then, these moments are trimmed down or exaggerated to fit my purposes. Most of them are nearly unrecognizable by the time they’ve gone through the writing and editing processes unless you are unusually observant and happened to be in the room at the exact moment when inspiration hit.

It’s difficult to turn off this part of my mind. This is something I do without thinking about it, just like my mom instantly switches on her medical mode and starts asking specific questions about our health if anyone gets sick.

Occasionally I’ve stopped working on a story because I couldn’t quite make the transition from an interesting observation to the realm of fiction. There is a fuzzy line between being inspired by people and lifting too much from their lives for your own purposes. I don’t always know exactly where that line begins, but I’m careful not to cross it.

I still reserve the right to write about you, though. The people in my life are incredible, and I want to share a small piece of them with the rest of the world.

Cat Identity Theft and Other Misunderstandings

Earlier this week while walking down the street I noticed an odd advertisement on the side of a truck.

Cat Identity Theft

Is what I thought I read.

Toronto is an extremely diverse city.  No matter what your hobby, belief, or identity is, there is almost guaranteed to be at least one business or activity group catering specifically to your subculture. Most likely there will be dozens of places to find likeminded people if it’s something that has ever known even the slightest whiff of recognition by mainstream society.

Most Torontonians seem to be politely uninterested in other people’s predilections – regardless of what they are –  as long as no one is being harmed against their own will or waking up the neighbours. It’s one of the reasons why I love living in this city so much.

Photo by SanGatiche.
Photo by SanGatiche.

But Cat Identity Theft? That’s a new one even for us.

What possible reward could there be for the average human in replacing one cat with another one? The cats would probably find it stressful, and it’s not like you can trust one of them to hack a computer password or rifle through bank documents to see what their humans have been purchasing.

A small camera or other recording device embedded into a cat’s collar might work if you were willing to wait a long time for it to land on the right surface. You’d most likely end up with hours of footage of sunlight slowly creeping across the room as the cat dozed.

I’m no investigator, but this plan sure seemed like it was full of holes to me.

So of course I had to look again. Most likely I’d misread the sign, but if it was real I wanted to google their website.

What did it actually say?

Cut Identity Theft. 

Yes, it made much more sense, but there was a small part of me that was sad to see such a profound lack of cats in their logo. It makes me want to write a short story about my much more interesting interpretation of how this company operates.

How about you? What have you misread or misheard recently?

Beating Back Cabin Fever

Just before the weekend Toronto received 50 mm of rain in less than 12 hours. On top of all of the snow dumped onto us this winter that has yet to fully melt, this adds up to a lot of water that needs to be absorbed back into the ground in a short amount of time. 

And I’m feeling the frustration of cabin fever. It seems like spring will never arrive.

To amuse myself, I’ve been compiling a list of stories that include missing or erased seasons.

For example, Jadis casts a spell in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe that locks Narnia in an endless winter where Christmas never arrives.

The Giver describes a human civilization so advanced that they’ve learned how to control the weather. There are no longer any seasons in Jonas’ world. In fact, he doesn’t even know what snow is until he begins his special assignment.

Fallen Angels is a science fiction novel on my to-read list that describes what happens to humanity after we successfully reduce our carbon output so much that we effectively end global warming. Unfortunately the greenhouse gases we were emitting were the only thing preventing the earth from plunging into another ice age. Society collapses and our standard of living is dialled back several hundred years when winters become long, snowy, and bitterly cold.

It also made me think of the holodeck on Star Trek. Because the characters spend their entire lives in a season-less, temperature-controlled environment, it makes sense for them to go skiing or spent a humid day at the beach when it’s time to relax. Being uncomfortably warm (or cold) is a new experience to them instead of something that happens regularly whether they want it to or not.

What books or movies have I missed? What do you do to combat cabin fever?

The Shoes

IMG_0399Has there been a rapture for one?

Was it faster to run without them?

Did he buy a new pair and not feel like carrying the old ones home?

Did they walk away on their own?

Is an invisible man dancing?

Was superglue spilled in the gutter right before he stepped into the street?

Have his feet grown two sizes in twenty minutes?

Is it an offering?

Writing prompts can be found anywhere. Sometimes you just have to look down.


The Dying Time of Year

Winter is coming. I’ve blogged before about how that season makes me think of death. No, not in a depressed way. I’m watching the world slowly spin down into the quiet blankness of a three-month stretch in which nothing grows and taking note of all of the small changes around me. It’s hard to imagine… Read More

Where Do You Find Creative Inspiration?

Yesterday I asked readers if they had any questions for me. Beginning today I will be answering them but it’s not too late to add to the queue  – just use the contact form or leave a comment with your questions. 1. Wild Dreams. I always leave a notebook by the side of my bed to… Read More

Grammar Matters

Grammar matters. Fourteen years ago when I first joined in on Internet conversations I was surprised by how often the people I met online ignored basic punctuation, capitalization and spelling rules. Over time this lax approach to the English language has only grown worse. When I read a blog post or article riddled with errors I assume… Read More

Coping with Writer’s Block

The good news: I just finished writing the first short story I will be selling here in the near future! The first scene is loosely based on something strange that happened to me years ago and I’ve been playing around with Elle, the main character, for a long time. This is a scifi/fantasy tale about… Read More

3 Things I’ve Learned as a Book Critic

About a month ago I began writing book reviews under a pseudonym for another website. It’s been an amazing experience so far. I love combing through the review database and finding short stories and books to read. It’s exhilarating to discover new authors and even a new genre – I’m just now realizing how much I love… Read More