A Sentence That Changes the Story

My daughter and her doll enjoy a subterranean adventure in an empty pool.

I’ve spent six years working on Body Copy, my most recently completed novel, and I still remember bringing an early piece of it to the Pinewood Table group, facilitated by Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose, my amazing mentors. It was probably 2006 when I read these lines about a newspaper deadline to the assembled writers:

“The cushion of nothingness between my stories is air conditioning on the page, all that white space. It’s poetry in the negative. It’s how a person can feel so small at the bottom of a drained swimming pool.”

Someone pointed out if I kept the mention of a drained swimming pool, I should probably have a reason for my narrator to have connected to that particular image. Thus was born a subplot that turned out to be extremely important in the story.

A few weeks ago, I had the odd experience of actually wandering around inside a drained swimming pool. An unfortunate hose malfunction was to blame for the sudden disappearance of the water. The pool in question was quite a bit smaller than the one in my novel, but at some point, ducking under the dripping cover and avoiding the still-wet patches in the center of the concrete, because I was wearing socks, I realized I was experiencing a setting I had imagined years ago.

I wonder now, while writing the first draft of my new historical novel, if there will be a sentence like that, one that drops from nowhere and changes everything.

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
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