Just a Pile of Leaves



I took this image of a carpet of autumn leaves years ago. I love it for many artistic reasons, but I thought it would be fun to apply the various components of this image to some of the aspects of the creative writing process.

It’s a pleasant scattering of leaves, in different angles, layers, and directions. My creative mind thinks about a story plot that is multi-faceted, includes different characters and the stories/baggage they bring with them, and I consider numerous directions where the plot of my story could go.

I imagine that the leaves are the various characters in my story. Who gets the most attention in a particular chapter? The protagonist or the antagonist? Or, do I give a secondary character time in the spotlight and let the reader learn more? It may be way to flesh out the story, or perhaps it’s a bit of foreshadowing of a more prominent role the character may assume further along in the story. Will some characters remain in the background, only offering a glimpse of themselves when they’re needed, or will they rise to the surface in a gust of wind to fill a surprise role in the story?

My characters must be multi-faceted and multi-layered or they will not become real to the reader. I need to explore beneath the physical appearance of each player in the story so the reader has a reason to become invested in what is happening and have an emotional attachment to them – be it love, hate, or something in between. I need to know something of the history, family life, or experiences that have shaped their character. What is their moral compass? Do they have one? Do they have quirks/habits/fears? Do they like chocolate? I need to dig through the layers to find out what makes them tick in order to give them an appropriate role in the story.

The leaves in this scattering are pointed in many directions, like the choices I have regarding the direction the plot of my story will take. Will the story end with the death of a significant character? Or will that character survive and see that justice is served? Perhaps he/she will simply leave and let someone else bear the burden and sort it out. So many choices! But it’s up to me, the writer, to make the decision and convince my characters to go along with it.





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