Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Power of Water

"Rivers are magnets for the imagination, for conscious pondering and subconscious dreams, thrills and fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers' reflections of our lives and experiences are endless. The water calls up our own ambitions of flowing with ease, of navigating the unknown. Streams represent constant rebirth. The waters flow in, forever new, yet forever the same; they complete a journey from beginning to end, and then they embark on the journey again. "
~ From Lifelines by Tim Palmer

Photo Source: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1235/1453432294_6a00ed0ada_z.jpg?zz=1

Sometimes, I think water can be the source of all creativity. Simplistic? Yes. But then I think of the role water has played in so many of my favorite stories.

I once wrote an essay about how the river was a MAIN CHARACTER in Huckleberry Finn. What would that story have been if we took away the river as a character?

What about The Wind in the Willows or Letting Swift River Go or Moby Dick or The River by Gary paulsen. Water is the source of Dustfinger's fire fairies in Inkheart, water nymphs and mermaids, and of legends like The Loch Ness Monster.

Water can represent or control things like power, strength, danger, life, death, peace, freedom, beauty, chaos, cleansing and renewal, knowledge... the possibilities are endless.

Don't forget the power of water - basic water - when you write.

What are some other ways we can use water to strengthen our stories?

31 comments:

The Golden Eagle said...

Water definitely plays a big role in stories, and in life. It can be a source, a character, a representation; it's just takes looking at it the right way.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I love using water in my settings. I seem to always set stories in small shore/beach towns. :)

Jen Daiker said...

I've never thought about this but all too often water plays a huge role in each of my novels!

I have an MC is winds up lying in a river right from the beginning. Another book I'm writing, water seperates the human world from the fairy world.

Hmm, thanks for brining light to that Shannon!

K. Harrington said...

So very true! I like to think about Hemingway's observation that people/characters are like icebergs drifting in the water - we only see 5 percent of them on the surface, while the rest is hidden beneath the water. :)

Robyn Campbell said...

In Seventy-Two Hours they are lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They follow the river in hopes of getting out. They drink the water, wash in the water, fish in the water. They listen to it as it talks to them.

Excellent post! (^_^)

Mary Aalgaard said...

In The Lightning Thief, Percy is strengthened by water and his dad, the God of water. Water can also be destructive, like floods or interior damage - mold. Yet, we're drawn to water, mesmerized by it's motion and ability to hold life. Like in the song: I went down to the river to pray...

Carolyn V. said...

Wow. I never thought of that before. Water is a part of everyday life. It's something to think about. =)

Bethany Mattingly said...

i use water a lot as a simile or metaphor for something I'm trying to describe, like feelings or emotions. I didn't really think about it before your post, but water is a lot like emotions, it can be frozen, flowing, slowly trickling, or powerfully rushing. Wonderful post!

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss shannon! this is a really neat post cause water is just soooo important for lots of stuff in our life and in writing to. i didnt think how much water i got in my wip til i read what you said. i got ice and snow and a big river and a waterfall and rapids. my very first book i wrote the whole thing was in the sea. wow that lots of water!
...hugs from lenny

Diane said...

It's something we take for granted in America, but it is life. :O)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Water is a main character in my current WIP. Thanks for reminding everyone how powerful and life-sustaining it is.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I have to say I've never thought of water directly, but the setting, definitely yes, has power in your story. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! So very true! I love water, and I love water in stories. I live in the Pacific Northwest with rain falling regularly, and the Puget Sound only a half mile away (as the crow flies), just visible if I stand on my deck on my tiptoes and peer through the branches of some of our trees. Water surrounds me most of the time, and yet I don't often think of it as a character, or a strong presence in my writing.
Thanks for the inspiration!
BTW, I recently realized that my MC wanted to have a sailing adventure, and I've found a way to send her on one. Maybe the unconcious pull of water was too strong to ignore.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Did you know the 'cups' in the tarot deck all feature flowing water and representes creativity? It's a great symbol!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I love the beach therefore the sea plays a big part in my life,I can look at the sea and any problems I may have seems to be solved just relaxing by the sea.

I loved your post water is the sorce of life.

Yvonne.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I think it's one of the most sooothing elements. I like when characters describe swimming.

Melissa said...

This rings incredibly true for me and my book. I won't elaborate cause I'm pretty tight lipped about certain aspects of my book but... I can say this, I love you a little for posting this today!

Kenda said...

Great quote, and thought-provoking post! Makes me ask myself if I can better use the imagery of water in my WIP since my historical figures live along the river...Thanks :-)

Shelley Sly said...

I'm a fan of water and all of the symbolism that can come with it. I especially love "cleaning & renewing" -- I associate water with life, because we need it to survive. Great topic!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post! Water can also show up as rain in its many forms :)

Medeia Sharif said...

The water reflects my characters' feelings: tumultuous, calm, etc.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Shannon -

God certainly thinks water is important. He uses it as a metaphor for the Word.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I've always seen water and fire in similar ways when in comes to literature--usually as a matter of cleansing and renewal. It's odd that they are so opposed to one another.

And I could totally see how you'd write an essay like that! Water plays such a large role in HUCKLEBERRY FINN! Man, I love that book!!

Shannon said...

Good insight, Shannon. =)

Water plays a big part in a few key chapters in my manuscript, but I never really considered its significance. Cool deal!

Clara said...

Great insight! Water is to Huck Fin like NY is to Sex and the city. Ok maybe not that much, but I totally agree with you!
But how to use it to strenghten our stories? Hum, with all those representations you said! they were great by the way!

MT said...

I hadn't made that connection before, but now that you point it out, I'll probably notice it in everything. Insightful post. :)

Charmaine Clancy said...

This is a great reminder of the way water can be a metaphor for life in stories. Nature is easily forgotten I'm going make sure I work with it more. Thanks!

Lori W. said...

I was totally trying to think what ways I've used water in my stories and, wow, it comes up all the time (images, plot . . .). Really interesting thing to ponder. Thanks.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Wow - great post. I love the way you just made me think about this. (You would think I would be attuned to water, seeing as I live in a desert!)

Christina Lee said...

wow-this was powerful. Off to ponder...

L.T. Elliot said...

I have this same feeling about rain--which is water, incidentally. ;)

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