Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral? And Other Questions to Put in Your Reader’s Mind


“Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral? And Other Questions to Put in Your Reader’s Mind” by Joan Y. Edwards

When I was a little girl, we played 20 questions. Sometimes I needed to play 50 questions because it took me so long to guess. The first questions I would ask were? Is it an animal? vegetable? or mineral? Many times after 20 questions, if I hadn’t guessed, I’d say, “I give up.”
The leader of the game told me the answer and took another turn. Each time, I thought that I should have guessed it.

In writing a story, you want to pose questions to the readers. You are the leader of this “story” game. The answers must be shown to the readers before the end of the book. They can’t be left in the dark. The reader must be able to figure out the answers to all the questions you the author choose to pose by your statements, situations, and actions presented in your stories.

Delila searched her cabin for _______.

Steven always wanted a _______.

_____________ stared Linette in the face.

You can learn things about writing and about survival by studying different animals, plants, and minerals. Native Indians studied different animals to learn ways to survive. These lessons are called “medicine.” Medicine in the Native American tradition is “anything that brings personal power, strength, and understanding.” Sometimes you can choose an animal; other times an animal chooses you.

Lessons to Learn from:

Three animals:

  • Turtles – It’s hard to hurt their feelings because of their strong outer shell.
  • Deer – They are fearless. Even though they are afraid, they stay calm.
  • Butterflies – They relax and enjoy the stage of life they’re in.

What about you? What animals can you learn a lesson from?

Three plants:

  • Peace Lily – It blossoms in the middle of a crowd. (It won’t bloom if it has too much room in the pot.)
  • Kudzu vine – It’s good to be able to thrive in many environments. Be flexible. But don’t make a nuisance out of yourself.
  • Poinsettia – It’s important not to have too much light for a Poinsettia to bloom. In Charlotte, NC a nursery that depended upon selling hundreds of poinsettia plants had a problem. It was the second week in December and none of them were blooming. One of the workers noticed that Duke Power had installed a new street light next door. It never did get dark. Poinsettias bloom when there are more hours of darkness than light. The owner called Duke Power and asked them to turn off the street light. Have you guessed what happened? You are right. The poinsettia plants bloomed. The owner sold them to happy customers. And all ended on a happy note.

Three minerals:

  • Clay – white clay from North Carolina is used to mold into wonderful useful and beautiful ceramic items.
  • Stones – My favorites are small polished stones that are smooth to touch and fun to collect. I love that a man chose a rock to remind him to be grateful for all that he has. He called it a “Gratitude Rock.” These small polished stones make a great “Gratitude Rock” to carry with you every day.
  • Sea shells – They are beautiful shapes, colors, and sizes. Interesting animals live inside them in the ocean.

When you’re writing include an animal, vegetable, or mineral that has special significance to you. It’ll bring life to a character and add emotion to your story.  They may pose a way for you to put a few questions in your story.

Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate your being here.

Please let me know your favorite game when you were a kid. Tell me your favorite animal, vegetable, or mineral and why. I look forward to hearing from you in the comment area.

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4 Responses

  1. Joan,

    What a clever tie-in to a game that’s an old favorite. Grace Lin wrote a book about the squash her mother grew. I’ve written about searching for a bear. I’ll think on this with each manuscript from now on. Thanks for suggesting a way to tie writing to play.

    • Dear Linda, Thanks for leaving a comment. I’m glad you liked the way I tied in a 20 Questions game and related it to writing. See you’re already using it with your Bear story and noticing that Grace Lin wrote about squash that her mother grew. The sentimentality helps put emotion into your writing. Celebrate your connection with nature!

      Never Give Up Joan Y. Edwards

  2. Animals and plants have always played a role in soothing my soul. I once had a horse so comfortable in my company, he’d rather explore new trails than head for his barn and supper. He took all my cares away when we went for a ride. When he got too old and lame for the trails, I’d keep him company in his pasture and scratch his withers with one hand while throwing a ball for our dog with my other hand. That way he didn’t get lonely for the horses that were out on the trails.I still morn his passing.

    • Dear Sarah,
      Now here’s a story you can write that has the emotion built in. You could write about you and this horse. You could even write it from the horse’s point of view or the point of view of a young girl. I’d love to read that story. Thanks for sharing. Celebrate you and your love of animals!
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

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