Kill the Bird

“Kill the bird.”

Okay, I totally realize that must seem like really strange advice to those of your reading this, because you have no point of reference for it. (“Kill the… bird? Why are we killing animals? What kind of sick sadist are you?”) But, trust me, it’s pretty genius. Just go with me on this, I’ll explain.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the little things in books. You know, the chair the character is sitting in or the mug she pulled from her cabinet. Little things.

Forget the big things for a while with me. Put aside the characters, the major settings, the plot holes, and even the main theme. Got it? Good. Now lean a little closer and study that little thing. Like a prop on a movie set. Pick it up, turn it around. Examine every little part of it.

“What does this have to do with killing a bird?!”

Shh. Calm down. Keep studying that little prop. Notice that crack on the side of the glass. Yeah, and what does it really say right there? Good. You’re doing great.

NOW I will explain what any of this has to do with a bird.

Like those things you were just examining, a pet is a “little thing” in a book. Like a prop. They’re there, but they don’t always show up as a major character.

For instance: I’ve been writing a story with a writer friend, and in this story there is a minor character that is a bird.

(A BIRD! I get it! Wait… what? You killed the bird?! Talk about a spoiler!)

Wait. Hey, hold on. You’re getting waaaay ahead of me here. Back up a tick.

In this story, there is a bird. Said bird is the pet of one of two main characters. Over the course of this story, we’ve grown very attached to this bird. VERY attached. To the point that, when bandits attacked and the bird went missing, both of us were very distraught because we honestly hadn’t anticipated this and had no idea what happened to the bird. Was it dead? Was it okay? Had it pecked its attackers to death?

If you’re still jumping ahead of me, you’ll see where I’m going with this. If you are with me, congratulations! Now I can tell you what the very important lesson is in this blog post.

We’re worried about the bird.

Whaaa…? (cue minion confusion face)

Let me repeat. We. Are worried. About the BIRD.

Remember when I said the bird wasn’t even that big of a character? Turns out, it didn’t have to be. For whatever reason, people (bless ’em) have the tendency to overlook the big things and pay attention to the small ones.

When we messed with that one little, tiny piece of the story, things exploded. (Not literally, but that would have been cool).

The two main characters bonded over a lost pet. It set up a great scene for the bird’s owner to have some introspection time and created a host of opportunities for metaphorical situations.

Again, for some reason, people are weird. Kill a character? Pfft, they’ve seen it before. No biggie, there are always ways to replace them or bring them back. Kill a pet or smash a small object? They go into overtime worrying (and some crying).

Are you looking for a way to make your writing more impactful? To rip out their hearts and dance on their graves while they weep uncontrollably over your book? (It sounds more maniacal than it actually is). If so, kill the bird. People quickly get attached to animals, pets especially. And what could be more evil than a villain who can kill an innocent animal and not feel an ounce of remorse?

I feel like I should end by saying that after a long and terrible ordeal (with lots of agitation and tears on all the writers’ parts), the bird is fine. She’ll live and life will go on. (AKA: no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post).

So… How are you going to make an impact? What can you do to “kill the bird”?

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I want to hear your stories about the small details!!! Whether you read it or wrote it, let me know what small detail changed to make you cry in a story you love.

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#NeverForget

That’s what’s circulating today, September 11, 2015. #NeverForget.

Fourteen years ago, tragedy struck the United States of America. The hardest hit was New York City, but our entire nation felt it. It was the worst, most unexpected attack on our nation since Pearl Harbor, and it was an act of war.

Many people died that day, on September 11th, 2001. And our nation changed forever.

I remember where I was when the planes hit the Twin Towers. I was in my living room, a mere 7 years old, and I didn’t really comprehend what was happening. My mom and dad sat watching the news, in shock as they watched tons — literal TONS — of steel and glass crumble to the ground. The news replayed the fireball that used to be a plane over and over, and I remember the newscaster literally weeping as she explained what was happening.

You see, when something that catastrophic happens, everything changes. You can never go back to the way it was before. You can never regain the little piece of innocence that was lost. Even if you have to move forward, you must always remember. Remember so that next time we can do better. Remember so those who died won’t have died in vain.

Don’t lock yourself away and forget that it ever happened. We all know that history repeats itself, so we should strive our best to make sure this particular point doesn’t. An act of war should never be forgotten. An act of war should be remembered for what it was. And, as Americans, it should royally tick us off that someone dared to attack us ON OUR OWN SOIL! We’re supposed to be a free country, right? But what does it make us if we don’t stand up for ourselves and let others know they can’t mess with us and get away with it?

So, today, remember the fallen and remember those who fight for us. Remember that your freedom comes at a price to countless others. Respect them and thank them for giving up a piece of their life to keep yours safe.

#AlwaysRemember

#NeverForget