Tag Archives: Insects

Insects in Stories

Lost in the details of plotting and penning realistic dialogue, it’s easy to forget about incidental details.

Such everyday activities as listening to music, watching television, eating food and making tea or coffee. I eventually realised that I hadn’t fed my Cornish Detective at all in Book 1 after the hundredth read through; he’d somehow lasted four months without food!

I attempt to round my stories out by including more of the senses than just seeing and hearing. If a character smells something out of place, it gives an immediacy to the scene. Someone who’s trying to keep their balance over a 50’ drop will create unease in the reader.

My main character is a country boy in tune with signs from Nature from having been raised as a farmer before becoming a policeman. He notices things a townie copper wouldn’t. In my WIP, he’s just inspecting a corpse found by a dog walker discarded in a roadside rock salt bin. Observing that the eyes are whole, though crawled upon by slow-moving winter flies, he deduces it was hidden the night before.

As any crime writer soon learns flies are crucial indicators of when someone went from living to dead. Maggot development can be accurately calculated.

My story is set at this time of year. It used to be that flies disappeared in winter, but with global warming, they’re still prevalent. I opened a window yesterday, to find a dozen flies sleeping in the frame gap, practically flattened; a couple took off as aerodynamic as squashed grapes, falling to the floor to shake warmth into their wings. It’s not true hibernation and is known as diapause…the flies slow their development and appetite until weather conditions improve or until a corpse lands nearby!

Flies, moths, ants, butterflies, beetles, bees, wasps, hornets and cicadas have appeared in my stories. Not to forget the arachnid spider. One main character realised which way his quarry had gone by noticing a spider rebuilding its web across a door frame.

It’s estimated that there are 10,000 insects for every human being on Earth, so it would be surprising if they didn’t appear in fiction! To put it another way, there are 1.5 million insect species adding up to 10 quintillion individuals.

Authors have been anthropomorphising insects for years:

Insects In Fiction (38 books)

How do you use insects in your stories?

Try saying this quickly a few times:

Bookmarks—what do you use?

This article in the Guardian shows some unusual objects used as bookmarks:


I abhor the practice of turning over the corners of pages to mark where someone left off reading. I also get annoyed when previous readers have left written comments on the page, as I was brought up to value and look after books. I can just about see the point of making useful notes in a textbook, and it’s something that I’ve done with Haynes workshop manuals for cars and motorcycles when I’ve found a better way of doing a repair.

Image result for bookmark cartoon

Although I’m able to remember the number of a page, where I left off reading, for, after all, it’s only one number, I tend to use postcards as markers these days—such as when I have four books on the go at the same time. These cards include a greetings card with a charming message from a friend, as well as some American rustic postcards from Wyoming that a photographer sent me. I’ve been known to use squares of tissue paper, though it’s been a while since I had a proper leather bookmark with tassels.

Librarians are always finding bookmarks, and usually, keep a box of them under the counter— just in case a reader asks for their return. When I worked as a librarian, I sometimes found things that we most definitely did not keep. You may find it hard to believe, but these included slices of bacon (cooked and uncooked), condoms (used and unused), combs, straws, razor blades, cocktail sticks, matches and paper-clips. Weirdest of all was a squashed army of woodlice, which I think are known as pillbugs in America. Their flattened corpses marked the reader’s progress through the book. This slaughter had been deliberately done, as the reader left a message declaring her hatred for woodlice beside her last victim!

Image result for woodlice