Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Through the Garden Gate

Denver Arboretum - photo by Sally Jadlow


Sally Jadlow sent this pretty photo from the Denver Botanical Garden. The blue pots, arch, and curving walkway are so inviting a visitor is drawn to enter. If ever there was a visual reminder of the old adage to writers to "hook the reader," this is it.

What if the garden had been surrounded by a six-foot tall wood fence and visitors had been led up to the garden by a long, barren, asphalt parking lot? No tall cedars, no gate, and no brick edging.

Would we want to venture inside? Nope. Wouldn't matter if the world's largest azalea was in bloom and bearing apples. If we couldn't see something interesting at the beginning, we never would venture inside.

Same with our writing. Put an open gate at the beginning. Add some colorful flowers and a hint of something to come. Watch the readers flock inside.

Sally put this technique to good use in her recent book, God's Little Miracle Book. I gave this book for Christmas presents and received several phone calls from people who had just started reading it and already were hooked. Here are the first three sentences:

The phone rang late one night. It was our eldest daughter Jennifer.
"Mom, get to Children's Mercy downtown. Life Flight is bringing Gunnar in." 

Are you hooked? I was. And the stories did not disappoint. Entering the gate and taking the path were well worth it.


Blue pots. What comes to mind? The photo above? Your grandmother's house? Funny how these mental connections work. I think of the blue pots in the Ten Thousand Villages store in downtown Overland Park, Kansas. I think of summer and visiting the farmers market and then stopping in the store on the way to the car with my bags of tomatoes and baby squash. Blue pots. What do you think of? Something all your own. Write about it.


This recipe is from Cooks.com. Reader comments say it is "Sinfully good -- and EASY! Everyone wants the recipe when served."

Elaine Warren's Chocolate Nut Dessert

1 pkg. (8) Pillsbury crescent rolls
2/3 c. butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. chopped nuts
12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips

Spread crescent rolls (the dough) onto baking sheet. Press edges together, carefully and seal well. Leave small ridge around edge. Bring butter, sugar and nuts to a boil. Pour over flattened rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle 12 ounces chocolate chips over top. Let melt, spread.

Find more writing tips, writing resources, life story writing how-to at http://www.angelinyourinkwell.com/.

All Rights Reserves, 2011 Carol Newman There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®