Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Partnerships – A Lesson from the Natural World..?

December 3, 2013

Benevolent – definition: marked by or disposed to doing good

There are many people, past and present, who have changed the course of conflict but today I am concentrating on the natural world and partnerships between different species. The correct name is  commensalism, which means one organism benefits and the other organism isn’t harmed by the partnership. It is a matter of conjecture how these partnerships began but once you realize the benefits for both partners it is obvious.


Impalas enjoy the ministrations of ox-pecker birds, whose name describes their role exactly. They peck off unwanted and irritating flies and ticks. In doing so the birds have plenty to eat without having to fly great distances and the impalas are freed of the parasites, which can carry diseases.

Ox-pecker birds and other similar breeds perform this duty on many animals around the world.

clown fish

Another mutually beneficial relationship is between clown fish; made famous by Finding Nemo of course; and anemones. The fish dances within the anemones tentacles until they are acclimated to their host. The clown fish’s skin has a layer of mucus, which makes it immune to the fish-eating anemone’s lethal sting. In exchange for safety from predators and food scraps, the clown fish drives off intruders and preens its host, removing parasites.


Hermit crabs and sea anemones share an unusual relationship, which can last for life. Young hermit crabs often pick up young sea anemones to attach to their shell . They even grow at roughly the same rate. When the hermit crabs outgrows its shell, they will take the sea anemone with them to the new one. Some sea anemones are known to cover most of the surface of the hermit crab’s shell so when the crab eventually outgrows the shell, they can remain and not move. The benefit for the anemone is particles of the crab’s food floating up to it and the crab’s benefit is having a stinging tentacled protector.

I would like to think that authors, whether published or not, will see the benefits of such a relationship and help their fellow writers. There are benefits to sharing knowledge, encouragement and support.

Have you given or received some sort of mutually beneficial relationship? 

Use A Personal Experience to Add Depth…

April 6, 2013

Bog – definition: a wet spongy marsh; a poorly drained acid area in which dead plant matter accumulates and sphagnum usually grows in abundance.

wellies_tcm9-281955This word took me immediately back to an event that happened to me when I was about nine years old. We were on vacation in a quaint cottage beside an estuary. Wellies (rubber boots) over bare feet, wearing T-shirts and shorts, my younger brother and I went fishing for crabs. The tide was slowly ebbing out exposing a muddy riverbed. We happily poked around catching small crabs and fish to put into our bucket for a while. Then I spied it, a huge crab near the center of the expanse of mud. I stepped slowly hoping not to frightened it away.

Just as the crab was in touching distance I sunk. Mud oozed over the top of my boots and dribbled around my ankles and in between my toes. My brother starting laughing as did I, until that is I tried to extricate my boots out of the mud. I was stuck fast. No matter how hard I tried I could not get out. Panic set in and my brother could see it. I screamed for him to get my Dad. Thoughts of the tide coming back in and my drowning filled my mind as I waited. It felt like hours of course but was probably only a matter of minutes before my Dad appeared. He laughed at first but when he saw my face, told me not to worry. He strode towards me, grabbed me under the arms and pick me out of my wellies. I protested about leaving them but he told me they were lost, he would get me a new pair.

This sort of experience can be artfully used in our writing. Personal events and their emotional effect can assist us in describing a characters situation. Maybe one of my characters is stuck – I can remember that feeling and expand it to suit the scene I am creating. Small details make such a difference. I can still remember how that cold mud felt between my toes and how it smelt. Depth in a scene draws our readers in – go deeper into your self to find those golden nuggets, the ones that make your writing superb.

Have you used a personal experience or memory to help with a scene? Care to share?

Blog at