Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Casting Shadows

Well, good old Punxsutawney Phil has done his work for the year. According to the rodent, winter is still upon us.

I’ve always thought it funny to read, “The groundhog saw his shadow. We’ll have six more weeks of winter,” when in fact, if he doesn’t see his shadow it’s only six weeks until spring.

The simple truth is the spring season will arrive mid March regardless of the animal’s predictions. In fact the meteorological winter runs from March 1-May31 and the spring equinox is on the calendar for March 20.

It makes me think about my writing, though. I can put a spin on my character’s actions and give new perspective to the event. I can share my protagonist’s point of view by what she’s thinking and change the reader’s expectations.

I can cast shadows with my words, leading my audience down a path of mystery. I have the power to throw a twist into the plot or introduce a shadowy character. Yet, like Phil’s predictions regarding the weather, the end will come one way or the other.

The disruptions, the conflicts, the problems the characters in my book face will certainly dissolve like snow into a hopeful and promised end. At least they should.

The writers for the movie Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray knew this. They made the protagonist a smug jerk in the beginning then put him through the torture of reliving the same day over and over until he is humbled and loveable.

Funny, but I started writing this post thinking about the way words shape our stories and reshape our thinking. I was nearly through with those thoughts when I remembered I had included a reference to Groundhog Day in Breathing on Her Own.

Words shape our stories. Decisions shape our lives. Here is the excerpt:

The radio alarm clock, set for 6:00am, sounded with I’ve Got You Babe. It reminded Molly of      Groundhog Day. What would happen if Laney had the chance to relive that horrible Friday over and over until she changed her life? Molly lay in bed pondering the possibilities as Travis got ready for work.

If I could change the events of today, what would I do?

“Interesting,” she said out loud.

 “What’s interesting?” Travis buttoned his shirt.

 “I was thinking about that movie Groundhog Day. Do you remember it?”

“Yeah, I think so. The guy kept waking up to the same day, right? And then he started using that to his advantage. What made you think of that?”

Molly sat up in the bed, watching her husband select a pair of socks from the drawer. “A song. But what I was thinking was how every decision we make from the minute we get out of bed shapes our day.”


“That sounded sarcastic.”

Travis leaned in to kiss his wife. “Sorry, I guess I didn’t watch the movie with your philosophical eye. My first decision today is to go to work. I have a breakfast meeting with our staff.”

Travis headed downstairs as Molly fell back on her pillow. Lord, today I want to make deliberate decisions based on what You want, not on what I want. Please.

Yep…I'm with you on that one, Molly!

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