Monday, December 7, 2009

Filling a Christmas stocking for readers

One of the best things about Christmas morning is opening the gifts inside my stocking. I always save it for last. As I child, I could count on my mom filling it with some standard stash. There was always a book of Lifesavers and clear toy pops in red and green and yellow (I liked the lamb-shaped ones the best). I could count on a Pez dispenser and a beautiful Hallmark Keepsake ornament. I came to expect these tiny treasures and if ever a year went by and they weren’t there, I would be terribly disappointed. But I also loved the surprises, those things my mom found that added a special something. One year, it was a pink Lindy Star Ring tucked in the toe. Another year it was a Minnie Mouse watch (Her arms were the watch hands). Strange how some memories come rushing back like the tide and drown you in sweetness.

So what does a stocking have to do with writing? Hang with me here. There are certain things that our readers expect from us (like the clear toy pops) but it’s the surprises we tuck within the pages that make our book extra special. My hope is that when readers finish my book, it will be like they finished opening their stocking. They might have found some things they had expected and would have missed had they not been there, but they will have also found plenty of surprises that will hopefully make the book a memorable one (I can still see Minnie's red dress with white polka dots, big yellow hands and the pink leather watch band with the big snaps.) 

So when you write a book, think of it as filling a stocking. What would you put in the stocking for your readers to discover and enjoy? Please share.

Stocking stuffers list:

1. Memorable characters


  1. Some secret little trick that you can take away with you, because it works in real life, too. Like mentioning someone's name when you are talking and want to command their instant attention. It works because it's an automatic reflex. Only for a few moments, though. But sometimes, a few moments is all you need to get something important across. (Uh, not to be confused with "Hey, Insert-name-here!" because that is so NOT a conversation.)

    Delightful blog, Buffy. Don't quite know how I stumbled onto it, but I'll be back from time to time.

    Nice to meet you!

    (who also likes writing for YA and middle-grade)

  2. Buffy,

    I think I'd hide some insecurities on my stocking toes....No one likes a perfect character.

    What are clear toy pops???

  3. You're right about the insecurities. That's a great stocking stuffer.
    Clear toy pops are hard candy in different shapes on a stick. Maybe it's a Pennsylvania thing, I don't know. But if you look up clear toy pops on the Internet, you will find them.

  4. Gotta have a crisis or two. No crisis, no emotional investment from the reader.

    Merry Christmas,