Today’s post is brought to you by the author of Rabbit Cake, Annie Hartnett. Rabbit Cake is out NOW – go pick up a copy!
The Theory of Neat Stuff
In the classes I teach on novel writing, I call it the theory of neat stuff. The idea is that writing is more fun if you fill your work with things you find neat. I listen to the radio, watch TV, and skim the internet with this theory in mind; I am always mining for neat information.
It drives one of my co-workers crazy. She says she doesn’t want to know that it takes 18-20 months before a pineapple is ready to harvest.
I used The Encyclopedia of Animals to write my first novel, Rabbit Cake, because the main character, Elvis, knows everything there is to know about animals. People who have described the book have called Elvis a “fact machine,” because she knows so much about the world’s fuzzy, scaly, feathery creatures. I love animals, so Elvis was an especially fun character to write. I also visited many zoo websites while I was writing, looking for fun facts that would add to the story. The neatest animal I encountered was the naked mole rat, which appears prominently in the book.
Of course, in the theory of neat stuff, you shouldn’t just stick the fact in there and let it dangle around doing nothing, of course. You use it to help build the story. In Rabbit Cake, I tried to use facts about the naked mole rat to illustrate how Elvis is feeling at certain moments in the book.
Here’s a few fun facts that didn’t make it into Rabbit Cake:
–It takes as much force to bite off your pinkie finger as it does to bite into a carrot.
–Dogs are more playful with other dogs if their owners are nearby.
–Hippo milk is pink.
–The smell of a green apple helps with a headache.
–More than half of the world’s rabbits live in North America.
–The likelihood of dying in a plane crash is one in eleven million.
I’m afraid of flying, so that last fact is very comforting for me; it’s what I chant during takeoff and landing and sometimes during turbulence. It’s going to be my favorite fun fact on my book tour…I’m unlikely to die on tour, I know, but if I do, at least I know it was a special death: one in eleven million.
Thanks for the great post Annie. Make sure you give her a follow.
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