Inspiration, Writing

The Rose: A Not Too Sappy Analogy (Well, maybe a little)


It was sleeting and snowing, but I decided to walk anyway. The world was black, white, and gray. Then something pink caught my eye. It was a rose, lying in the slushy street. I picked it up, for it was the perfect cheery burst of color on a dreary day. There must be some analogy to writing here, I reflected. My mind whirred with possibilities.

Nearing home, I crossed an old bridge with a wrought-iron railing. Setting my rose beneath the railing, I searched my purse for my camera to take the perfect shot of my rose set against a gray backdrop. It wasn’t there. Hurrying home, I grabbed it and invited my husband to join me on my picture-taking walk.

As we slushed along, I described my blog idea, that the rose might represent my cheery stories and poems. My husband thought for a moment, then observed, “Laura, the rose is decapitated.”

Then he mused, “And isn’t it odd to find real roses outside this time of year?”

Yes, perhaps, but that just made it more beautiful, right?

We were almost to the bridge when he asked the final blog-zapping question. “Where exactly did you find it?”

I pointed. “Up there, in front of the church.”

“Laura, there was a funeral there this morning.”

With heavy heart, I took my picture.

Once home, I set my rose afloat in a pretty bowl. And though I’ve enjoyed her beauty all week, my cheery analogy feels sappy now.

Now when I look at her all I can think is “heart”. This rose isn’t just some sugar-coated flower. She’s got backstory. First she was cut from the roots and decapitated, then tacked to a hearse, on a one-way trip to the cemetery. By chance she toppled off the hearse and was redeemed. It’s this history that makes her special and gives her dimension. It’s what gives her “heart”.

Likewise, to create heart-felt stories, we must create characters with heart, not just shallow pink rose representations. There are far too many picture books out there with one-dimensional characters. Others tend towards “cute” rather than “clever”, and those stories end up feeling sugar coated and sappy, much like my first rose analogy. But, dig a little deeper, to find the heart of your character’s problem and/or situation and you’ll have a story that resonates deeply with your reader.

Happy writing, all, and may all your stories be rosy (in the not sappy way).

11 thoughts on “The Rose: A Not Too Sappy Analogy (Well, maybe a little)”

  1. This is the type of rose I had in my wedding, my favorite color!! Beautiful! I was thinking you’d say an analogy like how editors go through the horrendous slush pile until they find just the right beauty of a ms, a rose! But I like yours… it does have heart!

  2. I just love that you thought about this rose’s backstory (who knew flowers could have a backstory??) and even brought it home and put it in water. Most people would have walked on by. True sign of a writer or artist. Noticing things.

  3. Wonderful post, Laura. The symbolism for me comes wrapped in the idea that no matter what you see on the outside, you never know what a person’s backstory is, and what they are really dealing with on the inside.

  4. I enjoyed you lovely post and the care you took for the rose. I recalled a short story collection called “The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road: 23 Variations on a Theme.” You might enjoy that!

  5. Your rose reminds me of the goat that escaped a slaughterhouse in NY last week. Backstory + Rescue = Happily ever after. Enjoy your rose. The goat will live out his days at an animal sanctuary.

  6. Not sure there’s anything I can add to the wonderful things already said about your rose story, Laura. But this occurs–you have stirred the story-making engines of several of your readers and reminded us all to search for the heart in a story. Thanks.

  7. This comes at just the right time for me, Laura, as I am trying to make a story character less one-dimensional. Thanks for these reminders!

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