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.

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About Carol

Carol falls in love with every character she writes in her books. She loves basing them on the good and the bad personalities that make up life. That's what makes them real. Carol feels as though she’s in a movie when visualizing characters and she jumps right onto the page with them. Often the theme of her books is forgiveness. Whether planned or not, forgiveness sneaks its way into her stories. That's okay, because Carol believes forgiving others is essential. She favors a great story, with slices of twists that cause her to reflect on the problems life throws at us and how we react. Carol believes in happy endings. Humor is a big part of her stories and daily routine, and yes, she laughs a lot! Travel is one of her favorite things to do. She dabbles in art, always has popcorn and hot chocolate on hand. Carol is a small-town girl at heart and her stories are peppered with a dose of humor, based on Southern roots. She currently resides in Georgia with her husband and family.
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11 Responses to What does a Novel and a Cactus have in common?

  1. A wonderful analogy! This is a fantastic, and surely something to think about. The picture is amazing, too. You should blow this up into a poster and put by your desk.

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  2. Jill James says:

    That cactus is amazing and so is your telling of the tale.

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  3. monarisk says:

    I love the picture. I, too, shot pictures of the California beautiful cactuses. Your analogy is so cute and so true. The prickly needles make for a good story.

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  4. Carol says:

    Hi, Mary. I just may frame this photo, especially since it inspired me so. Need to have another framed for my son also.Thanks much!

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  5. E. Ayers says:

    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.

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  6. Carol says:

    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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  7. leighmorgan1 says:

    I’m noticing a few too many prickly bits in my WIP. Love the cactus imagery, especially now when it’s 6 degrees here!

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  8. Carol says:

    And now we have another reason to compare a novel to a cactus. Too much prickly will throw off the story. Thanks for your input, Leigh! Stay warm. 🙂

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