Mannequin Monday – No Car Chase Without a Driver

No story without a character. This week I talk about the people who inhabit a story. The mannequin itself, before it’s dressed. So many memorable characters in fiction.

And I offer you a short piece inspired by a Rodin sculpture.


What I’m Reading

I remember the driver, not the car chase. No story comes to life without good characters. Their efforts to survive, to conquer, to love, to find a place in the world. 

I remember the detective, not the crime. Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch lives, grows, through dozens of crime novels. Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache commands our attention through all of her crime novels.

I remember Hemingway’s Santiago, the fisherman, not the great marlin he caught in The Old Man and the Sea.

While I never finished re-reading Moby-Dick, I do remember Ishmael and Ahab, not so much the white whale.

his fierce determination to survive

I remember Gary Paulsen’s Brian Robeson, the thirteen-year old boy in Hatchet. I recall his fierce determination to survive. Memories of the environment he found himself in are secondary.

I remember this week’s read: Elizabeth in Raymond Fleischmann’s How Quickly She Disappears. Her engrossing adventure, much of it emotionally wrenching, dealing with a psychotic man who claims to know where her missing sister is. I won’t recall the details of her search. I will remember her. Her strength, her resolve. 

I remember Kieran Elliott in Jane Harper’s The Survivors. Kieran heads an ensemble cast of characters, carrying guilt over the deaths of two men in his small town, now dealing with a missing girl and a murdered woman.

I remember U. S. Marshall John Whicher in John Stonehouse’s Whicher series. Breathless adventures, thrillers. True page-turners. Yet nothing without the MC, the main character.

Needless to say, story and plot, setting, are important. Those are the world the characters live in. But it will always be the characters who live on in my mind.

What I’m Writing

This week I used one of Rodin’s sculptures for inspiration in a writing exercise. Here’s the photo. I focused on the hand on the left.

Rodin’s Hand Sculptures

The Hand

A man’s left hand reaches forward, bent at the wrist. Three fingers curl inward. Thumb and index fingers extending. Poised. Expectant. Ready to grasp.

His love lies dying. Ravaged by disease. Poised to let go. In a moment of mindfulness, she comes through the pain. She slides her wedding ring off her left hand and holds it out to him. A gesture of giving, of surrender. I won’t need this. I want you to keep it. Her eyes speak. Remember me when you hold it. Touch it. Feel its smoothness, worn by years of  love. Years of twisting and turning. Of sliding off at night, back on every morning. 

He reaches for the ring. Index finger and thumb extend. Moving in hesitation, in reluctance…in acceptance. He grips the ring lightly. Feels the warmth of her finger as it fades slowly from the ring’s surface.

He has no words. He slides the ring partially over his forefinger. Enough to maintain a grip on it. He knows that to accept the ring is to accept her leaving. 

His eyes meet hers. She smiles weakly. Closes her eyes. A shallow breath. Another. And a last one.

He rubs his thumb hard against the ring. I will remember.


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