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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Friday, October 14, 2011


One tiny smudge on a map, or a slight error, can be enough to send a traveler miles off their route. The delay may be a minor side trip, or a serious delay in destination. An east coast conference I once attended had to revise two days worth of lectures and speakers because the airlines had inadvertently sent a main presenter to a western state in error. They had made an assumption based on the city name and didn’t take the time to notice the state address. Then winter conditions aggravated the correction.

Misheard or misunderstood conversation fragments can also send a character down a wrong path. In the BBC series Downton Abbey, a servant is chastised for crossing respectful boundaries and, instead of acknowledging her error; she fusses and bears a grudge. Then while eavesdropping, she overhears a snippet of conversation and believes she is to be replaced. From then on her attitude and actions become increasingly hostile. Finally she acts on her feelings and makes an immoral decision. Even though she immediately regrets it, and turns to undo it, she is too late, and a death occurs.

While grieving both her own choices and the loss in the family she discovers that, rather than replacement, her mistress had been holding her up as an example of a quality lady’s maid.

Journal Prompt

Make a list of possible comments someone close to your protagonist might say about her actions. Make the range from very negative to glowing support.

Have your character overhear a portion of one of those statements. How does she ‘hear’ it emotionally? What is her immediate reaction and her long term reaction to this fragment of conversation?

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