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Truth is Stranger-but Fiction’s More Fun

Truth is Stranger-but Fiction’s More Fun

We’ve all heard the comment, and often I’ve agreed. Truth is stranger than fiction. The strange image attached to this blog is meant to illustrate this, and inspire you. We’ll get back to that later.
Sometimes, if we recount something just the way it occurred, it may seem so outrageous that someone will think we made it up. As a fiction writer, I love the freedom to change details, especially the time frame or frequency of outlandish things that happen to my characters. Real time scenarios often unfold slowly, but we have to keep things happening in order to keep the pages turning and the midnight oil burning while our readers enjoy our stories.
Real life can often be a wonderful inspiration for us. There is a haunting image in my past that inspires me when I’m trying to add suspense and drama to my story. Once, while we were driving to church, I noticed two little boys standing by the side of the road crying and screaming un-controllably. The driver of the car didn’t notice, and he’s not the kind to become involved with strangers. What horrible thing had just happened to cause this trauma? What would I have discovered if we had stopped? Could I have provided some kind of assistance to this heartbroken little guys? I’ll never know, but I often reach down for that uneasy, very upsetting feeling when my characters are in the middle of an emotional situation.
Fascinating stories sometimes emerge when you’re in the middle of something totally unrelated. Once, I was looking through old newspapers to get a feel for daily life during the time period of my historical novel. I found an account of a strange discovery made at a funeral. The first indication that something was amiss was that the dead man’s grieving widow did not show up at his burial. The man’s boss mentioned that a substantial amount of money was missing from his business. When they opened the casket, it was full of rocks. Sounds like the undertaker was in on the scam, too.
There are a million places to observe real life scenarios that can be used in your fiction. I’ve often returned from Cracker Barrel or Waffle House to jot down details about folks I observed, and my impressions of what might be going on in their lives. It’s not eavesdropping or stalking if you never see them again, right?
So, what is this picture all about? Here are a few clues:

1.  The lock of hair appears to be part of  someone’s ponytail.
2 . A school-teacher found this attached to the bookshelves in her new classroom while cleaning up for the coming year.
3.  It’s a high school history class located in Northwest Kentucky.
4.  The mascot of the school is the Fighting Camels.
What do you think? Is this some sort of good luck charm left by the previous teacher? Or does it have more sinister purposes? Maybe it was left by a disgruntled student? I don’t have the answer, so there’s no need to ask me questions.  Let your imagination wander, and leave your ideas in the comments section below. If this doesn’t bring you out of your summer doldrums, I can’t help you.

  1. Uncle Bill07-20-12

    Simply looks like the previous “occupant” was not tidy!

    • Jenny Carlisle07-20-12

      Well. I would have expected some dust bunnies, but a ponytail? Thanks for the comment! Anyone else have a theory?

  2. Avery07-21-12

    Great post and being observant can be a writer’s playground. As soon as I read your post, my mind was off and running! Thanks Jenny 🙂

    • Jenny Carlise07-21-12

      Glad you enjoyed it Avery. Better catch up with that mind though. We wouldn’t want you to lose it completely, LOL 🙂

  3. Nichole Hall07-24-12

    Looks to me like it is a snipit of a ponytail and beneath all the clutter a note will be found with a clue. Well, more like a threat, a ransom really. Bring the goods to the secret location or more pieces will be scattered until death becomes her.

    Ha! How’s that for inspiration and creativity? Can you tell I like to write suspense? 😉

    • Jenny Carlisle07-24-12

      There you go, Nichole. Yeah, that’s the start of a suspenseful story!

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