Thursday, February 2, 2012

Accidental Symbolism

In Where Love Once Lived, there is a scene where Brian takes Karen to a fancy restaurant to say goodbye. Up until this point, he has tried to win her back. Now, after discovering his life has been a lie, he decides to give up on pursuing her and move to Germany. He'd rather lose her than have to tell her the truth about his past.

I knew this scene had to be done in a restaurant so that the characters reactions to each other would be constrained by common courtesy toward the other diners. My writing instructor, Bonnie Hearn Hill, had told us repeatedly that restaurant scenes were to be avoided because they were so overused. She always put her characters in unusual and interesting places. More about that later. What I did to block the objection I knew I would hear from her was to create an imaginary place that was so far out that it was unlike the usual eating place. In doing so, I think I accidently came up with symbolism for what was happening to Brian.

Brian's friend Matt had converted a used up rock pit from a blemished, worthless spot on Earth to a verdant garden full of life. With God's help, Brian's life was in the process of changing from a loveless one to a love-filled one. Here is an excerpt of the scene before dinner:

Matt’s Quarry restaurant overlooked a rock pit that he’d turned into a lush garden by adding a thick layer of arable soil followed by a variety of trees, bushes, cacti, and flowers. People came from around the country to see the garden, making it difficult to get reservations for the restaurant, especially when the flowers were in full bloom. Matt had saved them a table with a view, and the special lighting installed in the garden below made it easier to appreciate the garden’s beauty.

Before he has a chance to tell her he is leaving the country, Karen threatens to walk out because of the way he is sulking about. Brian convinces her to stay, but decides not to tell her he must leave town until they walk through the garden after dinner. In the next article, I'll tell you what happens in the garden.

Have you ever set out to do something and find you can't? Is it possible God helps us out in these situations more than we might think?

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