Behind the Line – The Snake

“Emma watched a long, slender, brown snake curl its way higher into the neighbouring tree. It seemed to be in as much of a hurry to get away from her as she was from it. Then a foul odour reached her nose.”

The Day the Pirates Went Mad, Chapter 15: Landfall, pg 133.
#TDTPiratesWentMad - The Snake - Oxybelis Aeneus
by Renato Martins, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Why not add a snake to your story’s setting just for fun? The world around your characters is not empty. Opportunities to bump into other creatures abound. The setting of your tale can provide such prompts to a reader’s imagination, helping them more easily flesh out a scene. These prompts can also provide points of interaction for the characters.

What happens when they go to the store for milk and eggs? What do they see? Who do they engage with? How do they react? What if they were to notice a lost child? Must they divert from their crucial resupply mission? Perhaps this event will lead to something important in the plot, it might reveal something about the characters’ personalities, or perhaps it just adds some colour.

Meeting the Stinky Snake

When at Little Tobago, Emma and Jack go ashore to seek a suitable lookout point from which to survey the surrounding sea. This is an excellent chance to encounter some of the local fauna.

On their hike up the island’s slopes, they noted the colourful butterflies, disturbed a skinny cocrico, and marvelled at the green-breasted hummingbirds. Once in the forest, they found an especially tall tree with peeling bark, and that’s where they got to meet the wide-eyed creature pictured above.

What are their reactions? What about the snake? It’s an opportunity to add to the scene and to the characters while also imparting some factual knowledge about the world around the story. For example, this vine snake of the Caribbean emits a defensive odour much like that of the English grass snake.

And that’s what’s behind the line in the quote above. 🙂