In Hamlet a theatrical interlude raises the specter of guilt and many storytellers have used similar plot devices to elicit a change of heart or spur a character to action. Of course this means the author must write the play, story, movie plot or other tale that gets a hold of the characters. There’s nothing like a character telling a ghost story in an old house on a stormy night, to get the plot going in a certain direction.
I have no problem writing the story within the story — I’ve done it and it’s fun. THE MARY SHELLEY GAME is inspired by the house party where Mary Shelley wrote her original version of FRANKENSTEIN. One of the best things about the experience of writing that novella was writing stories for each of the characters. I really enjoyed imagining how/what they’d write about, under the general heading of FRANKENSTEIN.
So you’d think I’d come up with a book or story written by a principal character to drive home the last part of my novel-in-progress. NO! For some weird reason, known only to my unconscious mind and my art-loving heart, the character is a painter and a painting plays a big role in the last part of the book. I managed, without trouble, to describe other paintings in words, but this painting tells a very specific story, one that can, and will be, interpreted by the characters in the book to serve their own narrative.
What have I done to myself?
Yes, you guessed it. I’ve forced myself to DRAW! This is terrible and frightening and awful all at once. I haven’t drawn in decades. I took a cheap sketchpad and a random selection of colored pencils up to the roof of my building and tried and cried and tried again.
I also sent frantic text messages to an artist friend inquiring about the length of time required for acrylics paints to dry. The picture is just a minimalist sketch with written words as placeholders — just enough for me to describe the painting but nowhere near enough to show it to anyone else.
Next time I’m writing about a writer. It’s simply easier on my brain.