In her essay “Talent Is Not Enough,” taken from her book on writing for children of the same title, Mollie Hunter says that a writer is like a person locked in a cell for life, who learns things they desperately want to convey and develops a code to tap out the messages on the wall of the cell. “And all the time he taps he is asking himself, Is there anyone out there listening? Can they hear me? Do they understand?”
Often times the words come out in metaphors that we need to decipher, even to ourselves. We are drawn to truths before we may know what they mean. Each of us may only glimpse pieces. So we need to share together to see the whole. Metaphors give us the creative imagination to see truth in fresh ways. And to repackage them when they’ve become clichés.
A Christmas Carol, by Dickens has become a well-worn, well-loved story that touches multiple themes. The characters themselves have become familiar echoes. It’s a holiday favorite, and yet after how many times watching do we think we know the story and may have forgotten key parts? Heart parts.
On a Christmas special, the Dr. Who series re-told the story with familiarity and yet such differences spread throughout that kept viewers on their toes. From set design to story line, past and future merged. The streets resembled Dickens’ England and yet felt odd enough to wonder what had changed, pulling you into the story immediately. For one example, the set designers had made everything out of steel riveted together. And all the windows were round or half-round. Not noticed immediately, or perhaps not at all, until reading the production notes but the effect had a metaphoric impact.
Take one aspect of your setting and replace a few natural parts with another texture. They make be the same color and shape but different. Do one version is subtle tones and another as wildly opposite. How does it change the view?
For example: Take a main street and turn all the wooden buildings into another material, but keep same shape. Or turn all the buildings into breathing wood.