Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M IS FOR MESSAGE


M is for Message (Skim to the underlined genre or style that best suits you.)

I strongly suspect this word will be used as a topic by many bloggers today, and for that I apologize. But I’m betting we all handle it in a different way. (At least I hope so.)

Messages can jumpstart a Romance easily, and they don’t have to be from a secret admirer. It can be from a wife or husband letting the other know he or she is the circle of thought right then. (Add the obstacles later–the message going to the wrong person, etc.) Messages don’t have to be written either, but to have any power they still need to be revealed. It might be in the way of a painting created for the object of someone’s affection. It might be turning down a job one character knows the other character wants. Or it might be in the sentimentality behind the gift of a pair of colorful fuzzy socks–maybe that particular gift will remind the receiver of a good time had not long ago. The socks would then be something for your character to consider before she takes a job 1,200 miles away. (Or some other decision that will cause tension.)

Messages have flocked the Mystery genre since forever. Messages can be in code, delivered anonymously and slipped under a door, left by a person’s drink while that person uses the restroom in a bar, or given via E-mail or a voice message. But the message has to mean something to someone. It will somehow tie into the murder that has already happened, or the one about to happen. So, was the message delivered by a hired courier who was hired by another courier who was hired by another, who ultimately was the one hired by the creator of the message? That would certainly make the message-maker a little more difficult for the sleuth to track down.

But what message could be so important, and why is hiding the identity of the creator important, and what would it mean if the message was delivered to the wrong person? What could happen? Maybe it was never meant for the sleuth, but for someone else … And now the sleuth thinks someone in his or her life is in danger. But upon investigating the situation and following leads, he or she begins to wonder if… And yet because now this sleuth knows more than he should, the threat originally not intended for the sleuth is definitely a possibility now.

A message with a Literary slant might have double or triple meaning. To one character the message is salvation, while to another it means jeopardy, and to another it means condemnation. Who are these people and how can one single message have these different meanings to these different people? Do they know each other, or is it simply this message that binds them?

For Children or Young Adults a message can have almost paralyzing power, unless it’s from a secret admirer the character was hoping to meet. But what if it’s a message that reveals a secret the protagonist thought no one else knew? And now he or she has to worry if the secret will spread to the rest of the school population. And what would that mean for the protagonist? Give a little thought as to whom your protagonist is, his or her values, strengths, and weaknesses, and it won’t be hard to come up with a secret that could have a devastating effect.

What ideas can you pull off the top of your head? If you can offer some ideas in genres I didn’t cover, such as horror, sci-fi, or fantasy, please share! My readers will appreciate it.

Happy writing!

71 comments:

  1. Excellent post! Messages are super important in fiction. :D

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Kyra.

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  2. Thanks Debi, this is great. Truly, your posts are terrific. I'll definitely be referring back to them re WIP.
    Garden of Eden Blog

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    1. I appreciate it. Hope they inspire you.

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  3. Such intriguing post Debi. I used to love messages through inland letters - which is a thing of past. I used to love greeting cards on bday - hate one liners bday wishes on facebook. But guess that has become a part of us now.

    Messages without emotions to too many people.

    http://sinhasat302.blogspot.in/

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    1. Yeah, there's also e-cards we can send. I like the handmade cards sold in a little craft shop downtown.

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  4. Messages are important, where one used to wait for a letter now we have e/mails and text messages.
    Great write .
    Yvonne.

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    1. Thanks Yvonne. My aunt still sends me handwritten letters, and I love to see her handwriting.

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  5. Message in a bottle: She couldn't believe it. I mean, she'd heard about messages in bottles and all that but she didn't expect to see one wash up as she was sunbathing on the Costa Brava. She could see it, brown and wilted inside the tightly corked bottle but her fingers were too big too pull it out. She couldn't smash it, not here on the beach. She stood up and brushed the sand from the backs of her thighs and reached for her sundress. She'd take it back to the apartment, right now and break it there. Break it and see what unfolded...

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    1. Thanks so much for such a wonderful comment, Juliette.

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  6. I like your take on Message. I like thinking outside the box on what a message is, or how it might be delivered. In my novel I used flowers as an internal message from/to my protagonist. She sees them in a dream, which reminds her of her mother in a bittersweet way, and ultimately leads to the discovery that her mother is not the person the protagonist thought she was. Great post! Thanks. Happy #atozchallenge2014! Lisa @ http://www.celticadlx.blogspot.com

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    1. Your novel sounds interesting. I love symbolism.

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  7. Could go all cliche with a message in a bottle lol

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    1. Hah! that's the first thought that came to my mind, so naturally I passed on it. :-)

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  8. I also enjoy when the reader is the one getting the message from the author, when the reader "gets it" before the characters do, when the reader starts yelling at the page, 'No, don't do that! It's a trick!" :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

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  9. Ah, wow! This is the first post I read but I'm going back for sure to read the rest. It's a great idea you had! My brain started working in response to every prompt...I love the feeling!

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    1. I'm glad you found some inspiration here.

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  10. loving your tidbits on how to use these items in writing!
    messages are great because how characters interpret them makes for great twists! misunderstandings are supremely evil! excellent!
    thanks for all your visits!!
    happy m day!

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    1. Happy M day to you, too. We are halfway there! :-)

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  11. Debi, I enjoyed your post and did chuckle. I received an anonymous message that someone has a crush on me. I wonder if they have the right person, or they have lost their mind. But at the same time, I can't get it out of my mind. Messages that we receive from family and friends... subtle or unintended or intended can be interesting too.

    I enjoyed your post. Thank you! And thank you for stopping by my Blog.

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    1. Wow. I'd be going nuts wondering who wrote the note. :-)

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  12. So far, you're the only "message" post :-) I chuckled when I saw your M choice because my husband texted me from work this morning with a question. The way he worded his text, I thought he needed an immediate answer, so I called him because thought we needed to talk it through, not just text. Come to find out, he doesn't need an answer until tonight; he was giving me a "heads up" to think about it today. LOL - after all these years together we still miscommunicate on as many messages as we get right!

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    1. Hah! that's happened to me before, too. Thanks for stopping by.

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  13. It is a wonderful tool, but can be difficult to manipulate. And a bit dangerous... like all sharp tools. However, when wielded with precision... a thing of beauty.

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  14. The magical thing about a note showing up is there's immediate tension. You want the character to open that thing and read it right away! :)

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    1. I agree. I can never understand when someone resists opening a letter because they're afraid of what it might say. My curiosity would not let me wait.

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  15. I had to go back and read some of the other posts because it's easy to see how "message" applies to various genre, but I was curious about how apricots and harmonicas fit in. This is a very creative approach to the challenge.
    Thanks for visiting my blog today.
    Wendy at Jollett Etc.

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    1. Thank you, Wendy. I appreciate the return visit, too. I liked your blog.

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  16. Messages are big with mysteries and thrillers, oh, yeah. Secret message, hidden message and on and on it goes. I like the device when properly used. In horror a message could be hidden in the way say ... a hostage is looking at the camera, as per the recent case in the news (from a story long ago), when the hostage blinked the morse code into the camera. Interesting stuff.

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    1. Left you a response but it didn't show up. I like your blinking in Morse code idea. :-)

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  17. Yeah, it gets very interesting in life as well as in fiction. :-)

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  18. I'm considering not only the message that may connect a group of people, but the messenger as well. :)

    The Immarcescible Word

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    1. Yes, it's like a web. As soon as you consider one part, you can't help but see what all it's connected to.

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  19. Ooh! I love it when an unsigned message goes to the wrong person and suddenly there's all kinds intrigue and misunderstanding. It makes for so much fun.

    True Heroes from A to Z

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    1. Yep. It almost makes me want to send off a few messages just to watch the results. :-) But I'll be good.

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  20. I think a message from the future would be a great kick off to a story. Hey, maybe I've just got an idea. Thanks.

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    1. That's an excellent idea. And when you write that book, you better let me know so I can read it. :-)

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  21. Great choice for M. Messages can be crucial in any fiction/poetry, build up suspense, set the scene, sometimes the entire narrative can be told through messages. We used to have handwritten messages, and the penmanship would provide clues, nowadays that's lost, but still a lot of power in them.

    Thanks for stopping by at mine and for your lovely words.
    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana.
    Madly-in-Verse

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    1. Thanks for returning the visit. I like messages as fuel to suspense. :-)

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  22. Messages do play really big parts in mystery stories. You can't have a mystery without messages and clues. :)

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    1. Yeah, they have to have one time of message or another, for sure. Thanks for commenting, Chrys.

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  23. "...To one character the message is salvation, while to another it means jeopardy, and to another it means condemnation" excellent.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. It seems like it could create an interesting dynamic.

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  24. Hi,
    Nice post. I like how you described the different types of messages.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

    (Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge)

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    1. Thanks, Pat. I appreciate your comment. :-)

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  25. I've always liked the idea of a secret message being the focal point of a mystery story... maybe a code of sorts...
    Your posts are really great Debi!
    Writer In Transit

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  26. This is a thought provoking post, Debi. A short message can carry much power. I'm thinking about humorous messages. They can make or harm/break a relationship.

    Thanks so much for joining my following. I'm glad to reciprocate.
    Good luck with the rest of the A-Z. You're halfway to the finish line!

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    1. Thanks, Robyn. I'm glad you stopped over.

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  27. I love the YA version of messages the best. So many options and thanks for popping by my blog. With mysterious messages I enjoyed Nancy Drew.

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    1. Me too. She's probably inspired many of my ideas in some form.

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  28. I'm constantly amazed by the wealth of ideas on this blog.

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    1. Wow. That's really nice. Thank you so much.

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  29. I had never realised the importance of messages. One accepts that they happen when reading, but none of the concepts you describe occurred to me before.

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    1. It surprised me, too, until I wrote them. :-)

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  30. All at once the music stopped, the musicians, as one, stilling their instruments, leaving only the echo of lively notes in the air. Tension gripped the ballroom as the courtiers milled around nervously. Worried, Lady Greta locked eyes with the one man in the room she trusted. His gaze flicked to the left toward a small side door. She got the message: Leave. Now.

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  31. When I was in grade school I was fascinated by secret messages. One of my favorite stories had a secret message as part of the plot. This post brings back some good memories.

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    1. I'm glad for that. I think secret messages, codes, etc., always heighten the tension in a story. :-)

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  32. I always struggle with giving my stories a message and a meaning. It's one thing I constantly feel insecure about. Like right now I'm putting together a story about relationships and I have a good idea of what i want to do with it but until I can figure out how my protag changes and what he learns (or what the reader might learn) it's all just a bunch of stuff that happens :/

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    1. I have to hold myself back from getting too hung up on incorporating a message of my stories, otherwise they read too much like a lesson, or to moralistic. But I agree, it's something we have to think about when we write. Thanks for stopping by, Chris.

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  33. My favorite the romance novels so the idea an email or text message sent in error that can be turned into a romance story with the added twist of a secret admirer.

    In real life it is sharing a little romantic text message with the hubby. Group texting has made simple texting a little tricky.

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    1. Yeah, I have to remember to be careful what I say when I switch from single texting to group texting. :-) Now that could make an interesting story.

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  34. I like your slant on a "message" Debi. Reading lots of crime and mystery works, authors certainly can use their creativity with messages to add to the plot.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I like the way a message can at suspense, tension, or humor to a plot. :-)

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  35. The first thing I thought of is being murdered in a stove or suicide! What's wrong with me? :)

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    1. You have a good imagination, that's what.

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  36. I see word is spreading of how great your tips are...great job.
    Maggie@expatbrazil

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad you are enjoying my posts.

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