A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. So take 80 pictures and you’ve got your novel … or maybe not. Still, for those who have phones with a camera, and most do, taking a picture can be an excellent way of capturing something of interest.

Some phones have a notebook application, and it, too is useful, but if yours doesn’t, carrying a small notebook in pocket or purse can allow you to capture an idea as soon as it pops into your head. All too frequently the alternative is remembering you had a brilliant idea sometime later and having no idea what it was.

With a camera, what you’re looking for are things of interest and things which have changed. Change by itself may not be useful. The seasons change. We know that. It might be used as a metaphor but in terms of your plot, other than a reference to the timeline, it isn’t useful. Plus you don’t need a picture to know how seasons change and what such change might bring. A new construction project making travel difficult on a nearby street is also a change. The idea might prove useful in a chase scene but documenting it with a picture is not likely necessary. A sudden ‘For Sale’ sign appearing on a front lawn could be useful. A picture is a quick way of reminding yourself it’s there or a simple note in your notebook would suffice. So how could a ‘For Sale’ sign be useful?

Today one appeared on the house across and one down from me. Years ago a couple lived there and, over time, both passed on. Then it was purchased by a much younger couple who, after a couple of years, had a kid. They may have adopted because I don’t ever remember seeing her pregnant but one day they were bringing a baby into the house. Deciding the house was too small for a family of three and perhaps thinking they might have more children, they decided to move out and replace the existing structure with a larger one. Because the man was in the construction business, he decided he could save quite a bit of money if he did most of the work himself. So he did.


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Yes he had professionals come in to pour the concrete and I think friends helped him with the brickwork but he did 90% of the work or more. It took time. Now and then the family would come to visit and the baby turned into a toddler, a little boy, and then a child of maybe seven or eight. And the work continued. Now it seems he’s finished but instead of moving in as planned, he’s selling it. He will make a considerable amount of money but I have to wonder what changed. Did they get settled somewhere else and decide they didn’t want to move? Did the strain of him spending every free hour working away from home cause the relationship to deteriorate? Are they one more casualty in the divorce courts?

Maybe their son found friends and didn’t want to change schools. I don’t know what happened but their plans have changed radically. There’s a story in there. I don’t think it’s one I want to write. I prefer more upbeat fiction. Still, I might tuck it away in the corner of some other story. That could happen.

These days, the pandemic has claimed a number of businesses. Stores formally taken for granted are suddenly gone. Every one has a story behind the scenes, an owner wiped out, employees fired, families with suddenly no income and debt climbing.  These things are fodder for writers and a little observation can go a long way.

The point of all this is a simple change you might see when out for a walk can suggest any number of things lying beneath the surface and if you don’t capture what you see with a note or picture there’s a good chance it will fade into the background of your mind and never again see the light of day.



This guest post was contributed by Doug Lewars. Doug is not necessarily over the hill but he’s certainly approaching the summit. He enjoys writing, reading, fishing and sweets of all sorts. He has published thirteen books on Smashwords.com.