July 30, 2014

Writing is Like a Carousel Ride

By Kim Smith

Writing a story, whether short or long is like a carousel ride.

The exciting calliope calls to you to be a part of the magic. It tugs and pulls until you throw caution to the wind and get on board.  Sometimes you pay to get your moment on the ride, sometimes with fortune smiling, the ride is free.
Some people approach the carousel with trepidation, as it can be tricky to get onto the platform if you don’t watch your step. Some people never try; content to sit on the outside of the experience and watch. But for those who do, the world looks a bit different.
Inside the carousel are painted animals. Horses, rabbits, cats or pigs, each one is different from the rest, with intricate factors about its design and history. Some are dark, some are light, but all are interesting and beautiful. If you’re new to carousels you may find staying on the animals difficult, as the seat is hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes not working.
Around you, people climb atop the animals. They hold onto them with clutching fingers and laugh or cry, as the ride begins to move. The upward movement is exciting, and the rider goes with it up, and then back down again until the end.
The riders talk to you with accents and diction each unlike the last. The trick is to develop a friendship with them and be interested in their story because if you don’t, they soon will be gone.
You listen to the riders and notice every so often, one of them will stretch out and attempt to grab something zipping by. It’s a brass ring, and if they catch it, at the end of the ride, they receive a prize.

What does this have to do with writing you ask?

The ride’s motion is a successful story idea.  Usually coming around on a regular schedule, some are long and some short. Oftentimes, it’s the shorter ones writers have the most trouble with. Story ideas can be tricky, and writers approach the writing process with trepidation, but eventually they get to the place where they can see their way.

Inside the story, the writer sees a plot, a painted animal. Each is special, beautiful and different, comedic or dramatic, with possibilities to be explored. Sometimes finding the plot is hard, just like the animal’s seat, and can be frustratingly difficult to stay with when they don’t work.

The carousel riders are the characters. They breathe and move, speak and tell stories of their lives. They want to tell a writer their stories and do so in differing voices, with accents and diction, which make them unique.

Finally, the brass ring would be publication. For some, it remains outside their reach, an illusion as it zips just past their fingertips. For others, it’s a prize, hard-fought and won, to take along down life’s path until they discover another carousel to ride.
Kim Smith is the author of five novels, one novella, and more short stories than she can remember. She hosts the lively online radio show, Writer Groupie where she entertains writers of all genres. She lives in the Mid South region of the US with her Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, and her husband of many years.  You can find out more about Kim at her website,
Twitter: @mkimsmith or Goodreads:

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