Friday, November 21, 2008

Inspirational Cannibalism

Last night I wrote 903 words. Wahoo! I was inspired by memories of a little white dog named McKenzie. He was a part of our lives for sixteen years, and although he's been gone now for almost six, he remains strong and healthy in the part of my heart he holds. (This is one of the last pictures taken of McKenzie.)

The things in my life that strike a chord, evoke strong emotion, link me to other people, places and situations, make up the well that as I writer, I draw from. Using pieces of my experience, and utilizing craft, are what helps me paint stronger word pictures.

McKenzie is McKenzie in the story I'm writing. Well, mostly. In real life, he was my dog and did not have another family. But my characters are composites and situations are based on "what if." I try to work with one foot firmly planted in reality, and the other one, "foot-loose and fancy-free."

In the scene I wrote last night, McKenzie is cruelly hurt as a warning. My fingers flew over the keyboard, because the bucket I'd pulled up from my well was overflowing. To be honest, there's a possibility a lot of this will be cut when I start doing a bit of editing. As riveting as it was for me to write, if it doesn't add to the story, it'll get the boot.

I heard Dean Koontz say this the other day (okay, not in person . . . in a video he'd made for Barnes & Noble): "Everything you learn about or know about in your life, you cannibalize."

Cannibalize is such a Koontz word, isn't it?

I have a tee-shirt that says, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel." I think it's funny. Apparently the humor doesn't extend to other people, because when I wear it, no one laughs. And I get pretty much avoided. What's that about?

So, my advice is to keep a notepad handy, but out of sight. If you need to jot down an overheard phrase that tickles your fancy, slip away for a moment. Taking notes is not a good thing in settings where the chairs aren't lined up.

Still reading: Field of Blood.

It's all better with friends.


  1. Okay, where to I listen to the B&N Dean Koontz video? When I wrote my first novel, I did per the instructions of Koontz in his how-to book. Long, long ago.

    I'm still struggling through my NaNo novel and seeing McKenzie's pic gave me an idea for my next scene. Thank you! Thank you! I need something to move me forward and a pup will work.


  2. I tried to do a tiny url for you, but that bombed. So . . . go to Dean's website,, then look for the link to the B&N videos. To tell you the truth, wherever I got the original link wasn't nearly as good, so I'll be heading back there myself.

    McKenzie is pleased to have been of help to you. Talented Goldens (like Trixie) and Bichons (like McKenzie) are gifts that keep on giving.