Monday, April 25, 2016

Hidden Gems in Writing

I’m sure all of you have heard about the passing of Prince last week. I’ve long been a Prince fan, so I was deeply impacted by his passing. Not because I knew him personally, but because his music had affected my life in many ways through the years. A few of his songs are still my ‘go-to’ songs when I’m feeling down and need to lift my spirits.

As I tried to get back into my WIP on Thursday, my mind was still distracted by the news. Then I suddenly realized that I was at the perfect spot in the story to pay tribute to Prince. Here’s a snapshot:

I love that I was able to capture this moment in my work. It then made me think about other hidden gems I’ve been able to incorporate into my novels. As I started thinking through them, there are quite a few.

Why am I a fan of hidden gems in my work? I guess its because I view it as a way of leaving a bit of myself inside the fictional story Im creating. Even if only a few people pick up on them, I know theyre there. Some gems represent special moments from my own life, while others are like coded messages to friends/family. Then there are a few that are specific to my writing for one reason or another.

Here are just a few examples of my hidden gems:

Kingston Series

Sarah’s son’s favorite stuffed dog, Max, is a direct inspiration from my daughter’s favorite stuffed dog (although hers has a different name and sometimes wears a pink tutu).

Sarah’s favorite pizza place in Chicago was my favorite place growing up. A reader sent me a picture of the book and pizza box when she visited Chicago!

Shattered Angel

Wuthering Heights was the first book I remember having a huge impact on me, and it plays an important role in Shattered Angel.

Whispers is a character who makes a brief appearance in Shattered Angel. His name is a nod to a friend who thinks he’s my muse.

Current WIP

As mentioned above, I’ve incorporated Prince into my current WIP. In addition to that, my two primary characters meet during a ‘constant, steady rain’. This is a tribute to my book club. They’ll get it :)

All Books

In my first book, Kingston’s Project, I used the number 113 for my primary character’s weight. In a later book, I subconsciously used that same number for a hotel room. I didn’t realize I’d used the same number until my edits. I now consider 113 my book number.

If I plan to drop any f-bombs in a book, I use a specific number. Again, this was something that started out unintentionally, but now I do it on purpose. I’ll keep the reason to myself—a bit of mystery is a good thing.

Adding hidden gems in your work is not only a great way to give something special to your readers (at least those who are paying attention), but it’s also a great way to pay tribute to things that are important in your life.

However, it’s critical that you don’t try to force a hidden gem into your work. It has to become a seamless part of the story. I have a friend who would like for me to incorporate something we call Sally into one of my books. I love the idea, but it has to be right. So for now Sally hasn’t made an appearance, but I hope to find the right moment in one of my future books.

What gems are hidden inside your novels?

~ Carrie


Stephen Kozeniewski said...

My novels are all packed to the gills with what I call "Easter eggs" or what you call here "hidden gems." I almost can't help it. When I hear on TV or read something clever or perfect I almost always go back to weave it in to my novels somewhere. My first editor got so frustrated she demanded a list so that the publisher would know I wasn't "getting anything over" on them. Since then my editors have considered themselves clever for catching one or two. It's not that I take pleasure in being smarter than my editors...ah, who am I kidding? Of course I do.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I love to include hidden gems in my writing. For me, they're sort of inside jokes sometimes. Or my favorite stuff. Bands I love. TV shows I love. People I hate. You know, that sort of stuff.

Jonathan Schramm said...

I definitely have a Star Wars reference or two in my MG book. If you've ever read any Ernest Cline (Ready Player One or Armada) easily 75% of what he writes about is the stuff he loves (80's movies, video games, etc.). I love how deliberate yours are, Carrie... Thanks for sharing!

Carrie Beckort said...

Love how you call them 'Easter Eggs'! Great idea. I agree that it can be kind of fun to slip something in and know that it's lurking where many won't notice.

Carrie Beckort said...

Awesome - When I start reading Dead and Breakfast I won't be able to stop myself from wondering where the 'gems' are hidden. :)

Carrie Beckort said...

You're welcome - and Star Wars is a great reference. Especially considering your topic.

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