By Kelly L. Stone
I’m not one of those writers who typically gets ideas for stories from reading the news or hearing about an unsolved murder case. Usually my ideas come to me via dreams. But once I had an unusual situation that combined both my dream world and an actual deserted house that resulted in a 10,000 word short story. Here’s how it happened.
My family owned a secluded waterfront lot that bordered another property that had a 120-year-old empty house on it. It was pine green, nestled behind sand dunes, and shielded from the harsh sun by oaks that draped moss covered braches over its roof. One window had an intriguing shade perpetually pulled up, as if the occupants had been looking out and simply gotten called away for a moment. I used to walk down the beach and gaze at the house, wondering who had lived there and what their lives were like back in the early 1900’s.
The empty house set my imagination on fire. The result was that one night I dreamt that I was in the back of a row boat, being ferried across the bay toward that green house. In the front of the boat sat a young woman with carrot-red hair and wearing a Victorian style dress. She was on her way to that house. As an observer in the dream, I knew only three things: her name (Riley), she was coming to the house for a purpose known only to her, and the secret to her trip could be found in a small tin box she carried in her bag.
That was it. When I woke up the next morning, I wrote all this down. I was enchanted by this mystery woman who was coming, in my dream world, to live in what I now called “my” house. That night, I asked my mind to give me more.
It did. Over the course of the next week, I got via a dream the next “scene” of the short story. Riley was an unusual woman for her day. She was unmarried and fiercely independent. She kept old letters in a tin box that she took out and read every night. She had an imaginary lover. Eventually, my mysterious Riley made a dangerous trip across the sound to a real Civil War fort in the area. There was an item there that she was determined to dig up, and dig it up she did, despite the hurricane that was coming. Around night eight, my mind gave me the final scene—Riley had found what she was looking for and she was leaving for the mid-west to continue her adventure. Her secrets had all been revealed.
The story was never published (although I tried). And that house is gone now, bulldozed down to make way for “progress.” But whenever I walk by that area of beach I still imagine Riley’s green house, and think fondly of the young Victorian woman who gave me a story.
KELLY L. STONE (www.AuthorKellyLStone.com, www.ThinkingWriteBook.com) is a licensed counselor who started a successful writing career while working a full time job. She is the author of a novel, GRAVE SECRET (Mundania Press, Sept 2007) which was called “powerful” and “well-written” by Romantic Times Book Reviews. Her first book for writers, Time to Write: More Than 100 Professional Writers Reveal How to Fit Writing Into Your Busy Life (Adams Media, January 2008), reveals the time management secrets of 104 professional writers. Time to Write was nominated for The American Society of Journalists and Authors 2008 Outstanding Book of the Year award. Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind (Adams Media, October 2009), describes how to use the power of your subconscious mind for maximum creativity. Her third book for writers; Living Write: The Secret to Inviting Your Craft Into Your Daily Life, will be released by Adams Media on Sept 18, 2010. Email Kelly at Kelly@KellyLStone.com