I’m always fascinated by incongruities – and I’ve been fascinated by this particular demonstration of it for weeks.
Really? We need a sign to tell us that the branch is closed? When we can see the sky through the crumbling roof? The floor awash in rain? Tarps and bricks and torn down walls everywhere?
Incongruities—including this photo—are entries into story for me. I don’t know what the story will be, who the characters will be, whether it’ll be women’s fiction, fantasy, magic realism or mystery. I don’t know if it’ll be short or long, the beginning of a series or a stand-alone. All I know is that when I’m struck by something odd or unusual or interesting, a story will eventually come out of it.
In this case, I don’t think it’s going to take long.
Because this incongruity came with a title: This Branch is Closed.
And once I have a title or a first sentence, it’ll stick in my head until I do something with it. I suspect this is going to be the equivalent of a film noir mystery—dark and a little bit frightening and… It might be a romance. It might be a short story. It might be erotica. I won’t know any of that until I write the first sentence.
But I do know what it’s going to feel like: dark and a little bit frightening. And that’s kind of fun because, although I know that’s how I write (with a phrase or a sentence or a title and a feeling), I almost never know what the feeling is. I rely on someone else—one of my beta readers or an editor—to tell me and then I go oh yeah, that makes sense.
I’m in the middle of two long projects right now—one a lengthy novella, the other a longer book. When I need a break from them, I’ll probably write this because, right now at least, it feels like a short story to me.
I’ll keep you posted.