The Play’s the Thing to Catch the Conscience of the King

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.



  1. Give over Candy. You’ll write more plots again as convoluted as this one and probably with a painter as your brain loves the complexity it can conjure up. You’re a story teller on a grand scale but of the old school so the characters have depth and maybe even angst.
    I’d love to write as you do.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • Candy Korman

      I’m blushing! Especially because 15 minutes ago I finished the first draft of the section of the novel that describes the painting for the reader. Still, I wish I could draw it well enough to share it with someone. My crazy sketch is — sketchy. LOL…

  2. I love that you’ve gone to the trouble of sketching something out for authenticity! If you can ‘see’ that painting well enough, why not use the sketch to get your friend to actually paint it for you – in miniature maybe? Then you could use the painting as your book cover. It would be an amazing kind of visual ‘clue’ for those readers astute enough to discover it. 🙂

    • Candy Korman

      Interesting idea. Of course my friend is a sculptor so… I know painters, but commissioning the nightmarish image? Um… not sure I’d want to live with it longer than necessary for writing the story. LOL…

  3. How cool that your writing is taking you into uncharted territory 😉 There is a certain degree of truth about writing what you know. Taking the time to make your own sketch will inevitably add a greater degree of authenticity to the approach you’re taking with your novel. I like Andrea’s idea of bringing the image to life via commission.

    • Candy Korman

      LOL…. if either of you knew how complicated my imaginary painting is…. I think it would require someone between Frida Khalo and Salvador Dali!

      Still, my terrible little sketch helped me write about it and the character even talks about how it would be easier to show the painting but circumstances don’t allow it. I am definitely in uncharted territory but that is part of my life now. I try to do things that are not inside my comfort zone. Writing outside that zone is part of it!