Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Red Crayon

No, not that kind of red crayon, you perv! LOL

I know this sounds particularly backwards, but hey, I never let that stop me.

I’m working on a SciFi murder-thriller that takes place aboard a generation ship populated entirely by furry aliens. In the last completed chapter, my main character finds a discarded red crayon shortly before discovering murder victim number two. It’s not a clue. Why did I put it in there? I don’t know. What will its significance be later on the story? Again, no clue. I do this a lot, it seems. Sometimes a common item sticks out until it finds its place.

I really should just cut it out but my gut says that I need it, that I need it to come back around somehow. I want her to hang onto this, she finds the murder scene, and just latches onto the object and carries it around until some point later in the story.

Any ideas where I can go with this? What could a red crayon enable her to do? Mark her path so she doesn’t get lost in service tunnels? Write a note on a wall? How can this common item save her life or give her some emotional closure when she needs it?

Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks in advance!

She could…

burn it for light

use it as lubricant

obscure a camera/riflescope lens

throw it to distract a guard-dog/creature

use it to create a distraction (by drawing a strange image on a wall, for example, that a pursuer might stop to look it so she can sneak up behind him and hit him on the head)

use it to simulate blood in low light

use it as make-up

use it to probe/explore a narrow crack.crevice/hole

use it as food-coloring/dye

use it as nail polish, if species-appropriate

use it as wax (melted) to copy a key

use it as a (smallish) paperweight

Use it to jam a lock (fill a keyhole) so as not to be followed

Give it to a child (or child-like creature) in exchange for information or food

Have it contain a secret message via implanted chip or something

Use the wrapper’s inside to leave a note

Drop it down a hole to see how deep it is

I think that’s enough to get you started. =;)

May be it’s not actually a crayon but really…

a red herring.

Well –

…are you sure it’s not a clue?

As opposed to asking “what can the protagonist do with this crayon,” maybe try asking, “where did this crayon come from?” Who dropped it there? A child, probably (but not necessarily). Did they discard it there carelessly, or did they abandon it by accident? (Maybe they left the scene in a hurry and dropped it.) Is it happenstance that it’s red, or is that meaningful to whoever owned it? If the crayon has its own story, however small, that story can play into your larger story somehow.

If the protagonist really does something with it, rather than learning something from it, it sounds like it should be something pretty important plotwise. I think your last question:

…is probably pointing the way. If the crayon does something, it probably saves her life or someone else’s, more than likely by doing what a crayon does best, i.e., be a writing implement (probably of last resort). If the crayon means something, then I’d still explore whether that ties back to its owner, and how that person might tie back to your heroine. (What does she need emotional closure over?)

Many thanks for all the thoughts and suggestions. I’ll roll this around in my head some more and see if I can apply it!