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Monday, October 19, 2009


One of my favorite images is of late winter leaves falling in the early spring bright yellow against a brilliant green. The juxtaposition of the dying "Old Guard" against the spring bloom was beautiful. I wish I had my camera when I saw the golden flurry this spring.

I didn't. But I do have the memory. And, with writing, I have a chance to pin that memory down in a book.

The flurry of golden leaves is on my list of "Shiny Things" that I add to novels when I need a touch of something extra. Maybe the scene is dragging, maybe I want strong imagery to keep a reader's interest, or maybe I just want some fun idea to play with in a dull-ish scene. That's when you need something shiny.

NaNo, of course, is a time when you really need things that shine. Trying to hit the word count (1,667/day) to make 50k can be an onerous task if you don't include things you love. So... make a list!

On mine are:
- flurries of bright yellow leaves
- glitter or ink swirling in water
- hanging plants
- someone ranting about lumps in the pancake batter (there's a story behind this)
- the DL "Smash. Smash. Smash... Smash? Smash! Why won't you smash?!?!"
- squished imps
- fast cars
- miniature ents
- falling stars
- blue flame
- glass mazes
- purple roses
- carnivorous plants
- spiral stairs
- snarky computers
- vengeful AI

and so on...

As you get ready for NaNo make a list of shiny scenes, images, conversations, and ideas that you might want to incorporate into your novel. You may not use them all in November, but when you need to get back on track, the list is there.

What shiny things go on your list?

Photo courtesy of and copyright to Marie of DA.


  1. What a great idea! I'm going to have to start my own shiny list. :-)

  2. Li, this is pretty much what some portions of my sweet spot map are! Huzzah! I really should dig mine out and add to it, revise it, etc to find more shiny to add to my stories...

    Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  3. glitter or ink swirling in water

    One of the first images in my MG book is a dead fish in a toilet bowl, laying in a swirl of fish flakes.

    Not shiny happy, but shiny memorable, I hope!

  4. Angela- I can definitely picture it. Speaking of goldfish, I need to go sort through the aquarium plants and find our lake monster.

    Inkblot- Sweet Spot maps! I may have you talk about that more %-)

    Mary- Let me know what you find shiny :o)

  5. A fun list!

    My shiny list wanders all over, but a sampling might be:

    - fire
    - guns
    - masks
    - feathers (wings)
    - really awesome coats
    - gears / clocks
    - dirigibles

    (And so far I've managed to add it all to my WIP.) O:)

    During NaNo, I like that if I come up with a Shiny I want to use, I can quite often dump it in and move on, or I jot it down on a list of notes to hopefully include later.

    Doesn't always works so well, but hey. ;)


  6. Okay, I took the bait. Checking out the links to the various sites and looking at the comments, I did see what I would perceive to be a lot of female type thinking here. Not a criticism! And trust me I'm no overly macho guy and I am sensitive and sentimental in many ways. I could identify with a lot of the "shiny" on some lists: dreams-- definitely a big inspiration, especially if they are scary and weird. And I did like some of the suggestions like spriral staircases, maps, and water -- and dirigibles was pretty cool.
    Here's my memory stirring inspirations:

    Roads and traffic sounds
    Bookshelves filled with books
    Menudo and how it tastes kind of good but smells like a barnyard.
    Psychotropic substances
    God and the Bible

    Did I get anywhere near the concept or did I miss the point entirely?