Writing Fiction: Mystery and Enigma

Daily Prompt: A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma

“Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.”

A blank page is my shore.

Writing leads to the mysterious.

Opening a blank slate of mind, I allow what lies in the deep-sea of imagination
and memory wash to shore.

Stories like messages in bottles wait on the shore of imagination. I opened each bottle and unroll the rough page inside by moving my pen on paper. Other mornings, my fingers on a keyboard bring a new story, a mystery waiting to unwrap its beginning, middle and end.

Go Write a Million Words?

Writing fresh fiction compares well to icebergs. Only the tip is visible to readers. Writers, editors, publishers and writing teachers often repeat, “Write a million words.”

True or false? True for me, the more I write, the faster my hand moves across the page, the quicker my mind connects the dots of story engine, character arc, theme, and conclusion. Grammar begins to make sense in that it serves clarity, rhythm and voice. I adore words, especially the music of words well-written.

What You Do Not Know About Me

Here is my reveal. Most people don’t know I have 20+ years of writing stashed away in private journals, poetry, memoirs of my family on the rocks, facing family violence, mental illness and soaring passages in praise of the divine in nature. I puzzle over why people do what they do. I want to know about motivation. Why do people lie and when do they lie? Why people love and why do they stop loving others?

My years of writings wait in boxes. Sometimes I think I hear them whispering as I fall asleep, as if buried treasure can sing, “Over here. We wait for you. You must set us free.” I am not brave enough yet to open them.

Instead I write forward, I write the future, I write object and list poems, short fiction and blog.  For my first time, I write for readers.

Sid on bench

Enigma? How Can I Write When I Must Keep Secrets?

One of my secrets falls to the realm of my ideal readers.

I write nonfiction for animal lovers (that’s not a mystery). I do have ideal readers mind, sensitive people, grownups who long for a mystery story to take them beyond police and crime novels into mysteries of environmental peril, mysteries of greatness of spirit that firefighters live. A few of my characters show themselves in shockingly dangerous deeds. Other characters carry darkness in beer and liquor bottles to numb their pain. Some save their world, others destroy their hometowns.

Some days cousins, sisters, or friends long-gone appear. They transform into characters. I cannot explain how this happens.

My eyes look at what I have written, a fresh draft, a new person on the page begins to breath in my ear. The details of each character’s life begins to dry in the sun on visualized sunny beach. I feel as if I am walking for the first time on new sands, fascinated by the kelp holdfasts entangled with bits of a character’s personal history. Stinky half-eaten crab-shells and skeletons of dead fish bring in seagulls, those ever-watchful rubbish pickers.

Beach loving dog.
Beach loving dog.

As a writer of mysteries I construct plots.

  • to play fair with my readers,
  • to establish turning points,
  • to add misdirection and clues.

Yet when I begin, a main character whispers, shows favorite objects, tells of betrayals, secret wishes, unburdens his/ her sorrow or shame. Each character begins as an enigma. By listening, by asking questions of characters I get a look at their favorite beaches, forests and hillsides. I meet their enemies. I write scenes of family fights. I see them trying to save animals or people’s lives. I learn what they do to calm themselves. I hear all about and meet their best friends.

A set of a child’s red beach trowels, a plastic dump truck, a rusted pocket knife, fishing line, words in wet sand and a broken umbrella, all which mysteriously appears in imagination fascinate me.

Once a character leads me to his or her beach of treasures, a castle made of sand, a drawing flapping in the breeze or a tent in the woods, often I do not stop to eat, make the phone calls or run the errands on my to-do list.

I love mystery. Although I love the mystery of writing fiction, the enigma of story leaves footprints in the sand, which haunt me enough to get up and write another story.

I Believe Writers Must Keep Secrets & Tell the Truth at the Same Time.

What do you believe about writing fiction?

What for you is the biggest enigma for you as a blogger?

5 thoughts on “Writing Fiction: Mystery and Enigma

    1. Thanks.

      Sydney persisted in running off to smell stuff. Then hee wanted to run up to me and kept shoving his nose in the camera lense. I recommend taking a long walk before setting up a scene for dog photography.

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