BECCA: Okay, so I’ll start this out: I know why I chose this picture, but what first struck you guys about it when I posted it?
K.T.: At first I thought. Wow, that’s pretty. And then I wondered how she got underneath the fish. Which was followed by: oh, she was murdered. Because my brain does that…
LEIGH: My first thought was actually, “Ooh, she’s pretty, I bet she’s a mermaid.”. For a while, I played with a more solidly mermaid idea (Which I’m holding in reserve because I think there might be more use for the twist I put on it later!) before picturing a little girl running along a jetty. Those things terrified me as a kid, the crevices between the rocks always seemed enormous! I ended up pulling it back into the pond kind of idea, when I remembered the gold fish, and modified the scene to go with them.
BECCA: For me, it was the dissonance in it. When I first looked at it, it seemed like a fairly straight-forward portrait, possibly with flowers in the girl’s hair, but then I noticed that the flowers were fish. And I really liked that switch-up, how the artist played with perception.
How’s about a follow-up question! How did you go about building your stories?
K.T.: The chinking shovel. I kid you not. And then I went oooo chinking shovel digging pond to cover her… And that was about it
LEIGH: The first line popped in my head when I sat down to write. I decided to keep the pattern throughout, and the rest just fell into place.
BECCA: I’m with Leigh – it was the first line for me, and then I followed it from there. Which is very, VERY different from how I construct longer works. I never pants it. Okay, last question: Do you guys have any other thoughts you want to share about this prompt? Anything you learned from the first go-round?
K.T.: I learned that if I have the picture to look at and no immediate inspiration, I just need to look at it a few more times and say what I see. Once I did that, the idea took off and the rest was easy to do. I adored Leigh’s and loved the voice in Becca’s so much. I feel like this is pushing us to write tighter and more varied pieces than we usually would. Not to mention it’s a lot of fun!
LEIGH: I learned I need the picture in front of me when I’m working on it. I was working on it at work, and totally forgot about the goldfish until I went to edit it, then had to modify it to fit. I’d just had the image of the little girl under water in my head. But so far, so good. I love seeing what you guys come up with too! I was creeped out by KT’s, and Becca’s was utterly amazing. I think it’s great that we’re breaking out of some of the boxes we tend to land in with novels.
BECCA: Personally, what struck me most are the different directions all of us took, which shouldn’t be surprising but still kinda is. I loved seeing that and seeing where you guys took things. And I learned to loosen up a little bit, to let a first line and a single image take me someplace without planning it out so religiously first. It was a good exercise.
STAY TUNED FOR THE JUNE PROMPT!