What does a Novel and a Cactus have in common?

What Does a Novel and a Cactus Have in Common?

While thumbing through photos on my computer the other day, I ran across this gorgeous shot my son captured. He’d stopped the van he was driving on a hillside in Hawaii, grabbed his camera and jumped out. I remember the awesome landscape and the fence that surrounded parts of the view we took in. We could see forever.

Before I clicked on the next photo, I zeroed in on the cactus, the buds, then the blooms.

What jumped out at me in this particular cactus photo, was a prickly map. A novel writing map. A plan, an outline. A beginning, a middle and an end.

So what does a cactus and a novel have in common? Nothing, you say?

100_0548  I take a closer look. From the bottom up, are the blank lines strewn with a stretch of prickly needles. Those needles are my roadmap to form the beautiful full blooms on the right side. Now all I needed to do was fill in the blank pages.

What should I ignore while writing? Pluck out most of the prickly needles? Wait! Prickly needles make for an exciting story. Yes, I’d write around the needles and include them in my plot.

My heroine introduced herself and away we went. Every time the story began to slow down, the heroine would snag one of the needles and remind me, she wasn’t so easy to put together. She had issues that needed solving. Okay. So be it. I could deal with a few problems. After all, the story doesn’t belong entirely to me anymore.

Now to work that hero in place and grow my garden of a prickly story and the perfect blooming ending.  🙂

Is there a cactus in your novel? How do you and your characters bring the story together?

Carol DeVaney, author of A Smoky Mountain Christmas and Perfect Match.

11 thoughts on “What does a Novel and a Cactus have in common?

  1. Cacti are beautiful as long as I don’t have to do anything but photograph them. So why are kids attracted to such thorny things? Take them to a nursery, tell them to pick out a plant, and without fail they will bring a cactus back proclaiming that they love it.

    Life is filled with thorns. We don’t live in a fairytale world and neither should our characters. Thorns make the story believable.

    Did you notice how the petals start out white and virginal, then they blush before they turn their true color? That’s a lot like most romances. Gotta keep that picture.


  2. LOL My son brought two, at different times, cactus home from grammar school. Lived for a short while. I know I’ve over watered them. Can’t do that. Right on the color changes and true colors. I noticed that too. Yes, that’s much like people, romance. Many changes. 🙂


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