Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I run across something that just begs to be in a book. Somehow, you're going to shoe-horn that thing into your manuscript, and it'll be better for it.
It could be a snippet of someone's tale of a relative's crazy wedding, or how a friend and her husband accidentally stole their rental car while on vacation, or that "truth is stranger than fiction" story you read in the newspaper about that serial killer.
But sometimes, that thing is visual. It could be that adorable little old lady in head-to-toe leopard print in the middle of February, or the gorgeous rainbow-colored hair of that teen in Walmart (pro-tip: Walmart is an excellent place to get good character-visual ideas...trust me on this), or the straight-out-of-the-seventies hair-do and outfit of that teller at the bank.
The other day, I saw something that hit me like a ton of bricks. Hubs and I had attended a family event, and afterward there was a lovely party at a relative's home. There were a bunch of little ones running around; the oldest were around seven, and the youngest was still in her mother's arms. There were several little girls were doing exactly what I would have done at their age (around 4ish): tearing around in their sundresses, having a blast with their cousins.
The weather was warm and mostly cloudy, plenty fine for the kids to play outside on the swing set and playscape in the back yard.
We'd been there most of the day and were getting ready to head home when, in the middle of our goodbyes, two of the girls (again, aged 4ish) came onto the wooden deck. Each of them carried one of two parts of a chain attached to a swing (the kind of kid-swings that adult idiots end up stuck in and then on YouTube), and the swing seat clunked behind them wherever they scampered.
Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining. I couldn't tear my eyes away as they giggled and happily dragged the swing around with them, off the deck and into the yard. Neither of them pulled harder than the other; there was no tug-of-war, just an odd synchronicity to their movements. The whole thing seemed as though it would have played out the same way if they'd been hauling a severed head, or the body of a mangled torture victim, or a demon they'd just slain.
I know exactly how weird that sounds, believe me, but I think all writers somehow see the world differently than more analytic types, at least to some degree. And if I were able to come up with that, think what goes on in Stephen King's brain. Yeah. Let that one percolate for a bit...
And no, I can honestly say that I don't see morbid or creepy things everywhere I go. Often they're whimsical, odd, or beautiful. I'm sure no two people would ever see things exactly the same way.
I hope I can fit that image into one of my books, because visuals like that just shouldn't go to waste.
Have you seen something or heard something that just begged to be written? What was it? Did it ever end up in one of your stories, or if it hasn't, do you think it ever will? Let me know in the comments!