• Fran Stewart

The Size of a Frog

Imagine for a moment that I’d cropped this photo until the only thing showing was the frog itself. Unless you’re a frog specialist who could identify this tiny tree frog, you’d probably believe me if I warned you that the frog was a giant invasive species, at least a foot and a half long.

But with somebody’s index finger in the shot, you have a better sense of perspective.

Writing is sort of like that. We authors can choose what to emphasize in our scenes, what to discount. We can crop the picture any way we want to tell whatever story we’re focusing on.

This is particularly true when we write mysteries — how to put the murderer in the story without bringing too much attention to that particular character. You have to be sure he or she is there so the reader won’t feel cheated at the end—but you really don’t want people guessing who it is too soon.

I got to thinking, though, since I’m teaching a series of classes on how to write memoirs, that what we choose to emphasize or crop out almost completely comes into play when we’re writing the stories of our lives. There are episodes in every life that could do with some cropping, right? Or the ones where we wish our rather minor role had been considerably more heroic.

So, think about it. Those frogs in your life? Are you going to blow them all out of proportion or will you photoshop in a great big index finger so the frog seems minuscule by comparison?

Really, it’ll be up to you.

Imagine the feeling of power!

On the other hand, if you publish the book, you’re going to have to take responsibility when somebody says, "Hey! That frog of yours is completely the wrong size!"