Dealing with Rats in Your Writing

The body of a dead young rat, its head lying beside the tail, is not what I expect to find on the lounge floor when I get up in the morning. After a couple of shrieks I managed to control myself and dispose of this unwanted intrusion into my morning routine. The cat, the only one who can relate the true story, slept contentedly outside, as if nothing had ever happened. He’d found a rat, dealt with the matter and now his job was over. What more could I want.

Writing is a bit like getting up in the morning. You’re never quite sure what to expect from the day ahead. Your story trundles along at a nice pace when ….WHAM! …. Out of nowhere something unexpected happens. Just like the dead rat on my floor, the unexpected can’t be ignored, but must be dealt with. This is not the first dead rat left on the floor by our hunting boy, but the little carcass still came as a nasty surprise.

All writers look for the element of surprise in their stories, the unexpected occurrences keeping readers turning pages. From now on I’ll recognise such heart pounding moments as Rats. They take a lot of emotional energy to work through, but they’re what makes the story interesting.

As a writer of life stories I deal more easily with the pleasant memories of life. I also understand that without a measure of suspense thrown in these stories would no longer hold a reader’s interest. The unexpected, meaty pieces in a remembered story add colour and depth. People read on, wanting to find out what happened next.

These meaty pieces don’t have to display blood and guts to contain excitement. My morning rat, neatly beheaded, with only a little of the innards protruding, held back the full shocking detail. Once I recovered from the shock I realised the head sat at the poor fellow’s rear end. This added a bit of humour to lighten the moment, making the situation easier to deal with.

The detached head reminded me, no matter how horrific a situation is, a good writer will lighten the moments after impact with a little humour. A wee head peering at me from the wrong end of the rat certainly diffused this stressful moment.

Later in the morning the cat strolled inside, after being disturbed by a barking dog over the fence, I thanked him for his efforts. After I recovered from disposing of his prize I realised, I’d rather find a dead rat on my floor than a live one.

When I think about it, not only had he protected our home from a four-legged intrusion, he’d added a funny touch to the story. My small furry friend reminded me, like life, writing should always allow for the unexpected. From now on I won’t be afraid of rats taking my story by surprise. I shall be thankful for their appearance and deal with them as best I can.