by Ann H. Gabhart
I’m guessing some of you may have walked into a spider web at some time in your life. You probably weren’t that happy to be wrapped in those silken threads while swatting at your hair to make sure the spider didn’t hide out there to later crawl down your shirt. But have you ever taken the time to study a spider web? If not, you should. Go out early some morning when the dew is clinging to those delicate webs and highlighting the intricate work the spider has spun in order to trap his meals.
Okay, now you’re probably wondering how this can have anything to do with writing. But I like thinking about how writers spin story webs when they set out to write a novel. The writer starts out with the first gossamer strand of web or story idea and swings with it through the air in an attempt to connect to something else. Sometimes we float out there in the air thinking we’ll never find a solid beginning to anchor our story, but then a character may start talking to us or a truth we want our characters to discover will pop up or maybe we’ll simply have a perfect idea for that first scene or sentence.
With the idea firmly anchored in our imaginations, then we writers inch down that initial web strand to figure out the next direction to spin and then the next and the next until the story is complete with its many connections. Each event and happening is a bit of the web that leads to other events and happenings until the story has been spun.
Sometimes you might come across a spider web that looks a little ragged with gaps here and there, but in spite of that, those webs hold together. When I’m making my story webs, that’s what I want too. I want my stories to hold together. That seemed extra important as I wrote my first cozy mystery, Murder at the Courthouse. All stories need a well spun story web, but mystery readers especially expect to think back through the story and see how all the connections worked.
As writers, we work to make our story webs as perfect as possible and we want those webs to be strong. So strong they will capture readers and wrap them completely up in our stories. We don’t really want our readers to think about those webs and how the story got written. What we want is for our words and our work in spinning our story webs to disappear completely as our stories come to life in the readers’ imaginations.
So, the next time you sit down to write, think about how you are spinning a tale with all your story elements forming the perfect web to capture some readers and draw them into the parlor of your imagination.
Ann H. Gabhart has over twenty-five novels to her credit, including The Outsider, Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and her new release, Murder at the Courthouse. Ann lives in Kentucky where she enjoys walking with her dog on her farm, connecting with readers, and spinning story webs. Visit her at www.annhgabhart.com