Thursday, February 21, 2008

Writing is like a Carousel Ride

Writing a story, whether short or long is like a carousel ride.
copyright Kim Smith

The exciting calliope calls to you to be a part of the magic. It tugs and pulls until you throw caution to the wind and get on board. Sometimes you have to pay to get your moment on the ride, sometimes with fortune smiling, the ride is free.

Some people approach the carousel with trepidation, as it can be tricky to get onto the platform if you don’t watch your step. Some people never try; content to sit on the outside of the experience and watch. But for those who do, the world looks a bit different.

Inside the carousel are painted animals. Horses, rabbits, cats or pigs, each one is different from the rest, with intricate factors about its design and history. Some are dark, some are light, but all are interesting and beautiful. If you are new to carousels you may find staying on the animals is difficult as the seat is hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes not working.

Around you people climb atop the animals. They hold onto them with clutching fingers and laugh or cry, as the ride begins to move. The upward movement is exciting, and the rider goes with it all the way, and then back down again until the end.

The riders talk to you with accents and diction each unlike the last. The trick is to develop a friendship with them and be interested in their story because if you don’t, they soon will be gone.
You listen to the riders and notice every so often, one of them will stretch out and attempt to grab something zipping by. It’s a brass ring, and if they catch it, at the end of the ride, they receive a prize.

What does this have to do with writing you ask?

The ride’s motion is a successful story idea. Usually coming around on a regular schedule, some story ideas are long and some of them short. Oftentimes it’s the shorter ones writers have the most trouble with. Story ideas can be tricky, and many approach the process with trepidation, but eventually they get to the place where they can see their way.

Inside the story, the writer sees a plot, a painted animal. Each is special, beautiful and different, comedic or dramatic, with possibilities to be explored. Sometimes finding the plot is hard, just like the animal’s seat, and can be frustratingly difficult to stay with when they don’t work.

The carousel riders are the characters. They breathe and move, speak and tell stories of their lives. They want to tell a writer their stories and do so in differing voices, with accents and diction, which make them unique.

Finally, the brass ring would be publication. For some, it remains outside their reach, an illusion as it zips just past their fingertips. For others, it’s a prize, hard-fought and won, to take along down life’s path until they discover another carousel to ride.


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Great analogy, Kim! Sometimes you wonder why the speed of the ride seems to blur the colors it spins so fast - and other times it seems to crawl. Mind-numbing millionth version edits come to mind on the latter. LOL!

Marta Stephens said...

I never thought of it this way, but comparing writing to a riding a merry-go-round is a great analogy! Thanks.

s.w. vaughn said...

Ah. Now I'm dizzy. Thank you.


Kim Smith said...

LOL I just keep thinking what a treat it is when everything falls into place and what a nightmare when it doesn't. Only writers would understand that giddy feeling or that "my coffee is not gonna stay put" one.

Marta Stephens said...

Ha! Spoken with the voice of experience. Ditto! :)