The Deer and The Darkness

People often ask where writers come up with ideas.  I usually can’t pinpoint what exactly will spur story ideas, but here’s an example.  The other evening, I was mowing the lawn.  I got started late, and it’s getting darker earlier every night.  My back yard butts up against a wooded area, and the sun had gone down.  It was getting darker with every pass, but I wanted to finish since it was cool.  I was walking along, eyeing the forest when I heard a noise.  Something was moving fast.  My head snapped to the right, just in time to see this deer go tearing by, between me and my house.  I mean, this thing was moving.  Deer are usually very graceful, even at high speed.  This one was not.  He was so close to the ground, he looked like a torpedo, and he was getting ahead of how fast his legs could go.  He stumbled, kind of bounced off a rise in the terrain, and shot across the neighbors yard back into the wooded area.  Holy crap, did he startle me.

That’s when the questions started.  Where did he come from?  The forest, for sure.  What would have happened if he’d run into me?  It would not have been a pretty sight.  Deer are not small animals.  I was mowing with a large, very noisy piece of equipment.  What compelled him to run across the open grass, instead of staying in the treeline?  Deer tend to stay in herds.  Where was his buddies? Were they out there, lurking, too?  What else was in there?  Had something scarier than a human with a lawnmower compelled him to run for his life?  WHAT was scarier to a deer than a lawnmower?  I’ve been writing a paranormal, so those thoughts tumbled in my head.  The dusk.  The crickets chirping nearly as loudly as the lawnmower.  The complete disappearance of the deer… Yeah, I didn’t make it for another pass.  I quickly ended my mowing task for the night.  Now, that’s kind of a dramatic idea starter, but that’s how a writer’s brain works.

I finished the rest of the yard the next day, much earlier in the evening.  Would you believe that deer came back?  Or maybe it wasn’t him, but this thing was as bold as can be.  He came out from the trees, looked at me with my monster mower, kind of shrugged, and started having dinner.  He was in my neighbor’s yard, nibbling on grass and leaves the entire time it took me to finish my mowing job.  Yes, the questions started again.  If he’s so calm around me tonight, was there some kind of predator out there the night before?  Why’s he so calm now?  Can deer have multiple personalities?  What if deer stopped being so timid?  What if the deer rose up?  Questions, questions, questions… That is how writers come up with ideas.

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