Following on from Max Bantleman’s blog about the trials of finding inspiration, and combining it with Debbie Young’s, about her husband’s altercation with a chainsaw and a bird’s nest, two days ago three wonderful characters were born right in front of my eyes. The goody, our protagonist, was just a mere frog when I set eyes on him. Just a little brown-green frog going about his business under damp leaves and nowhere near being a character in a short story. Then the brutish antagonist arrived, deftly hopping, if not slightly slyly, through the undergrowth: a blackbird, our antagonist, and also our baddy. The two creatures went about their natural activities for a while offering me a refreshing chance to watch nature literally at my feet.
The frog hopped away to find shadier places. The blackbird turned over leaves and pecked at the mud to find grubs before flying off. Five minutes later, like a rocket blasting low over my head flew the blackbird with the frog in its mouth. Mortified that my actions in tidying the garden had led to this little frog being lunch for a murderous blackbird I followed to see where the blackbird took it’s haul. I don’t really know why I did that, seeing as birds have wings and tend to live in trees and I am a flightless land dweller. Guess you could call it the sub-plot. I found nothing, but also reassuringly heard nothing, knowing that frogs do tend to put up a bit of a squawk when in danger. Maybe it wasn’t Freddie, I thought, immediately naming and birthing a character. I returned to my digging. A short time later, Brandon the killer blackbird returned, landing at my feet as if nothing had happened and even if it had it was nothing to do with him. His name just popped in to my head (after Beaky, it’s true, but that just sounded silly) and I questioned him about kidnapping Freddie but he didn’t answer, intent as he was to unearth a very large slug and mercilessly peck it to slimy death. Sooo….an antagonist with a good side I thought. Maybe it hadn’t got Freddie earlier; perhaps it had speared a different but not so popular creature, Vince the slug, aka the third character. Somehow I didn’t mind so much if Vince the Slug got trashed in the first chapter – he was already dislikable or even unlikeable to start with. And now it looked like his cousin was getting a severe jabbing as well. Thoughts came and went and a story emerged.
Brandon watched the smaller man as he continued about his business. Quiet, detached, melding with the city streets in a coat of leaden grey, Freddie’s walk was slow and deliberate. Brandon’s unblinking black eyes had him in his sights. A brief gust of wind scattered urban leaves around Freddie’s feet and he slowed further, as though distracted by their rich autumnal colours. He hesitated, deep in thought. Moving his head slightly, Brandon turned his small flat face to the breeze, his keen eyes and sharp intellect calculating the logistics. Five seconds passed.
Funny old thing, inspiration.