So many of my stories start with a picture: three roses darker than black and richer than crimson, a girl in a skirt of her own feathers. Some of my favorite published stories begin this way too, such as the Chronicles of Narnia and Dragons in Our Midst. Other times, the image is all that remains when the plot is forgotten.
One of these cases involved a proud man offering himself for the native peoples, then stumbling across the desert as he dies of self-inflicted fever. I couldn't remember the title or author, but only the ending. But this spring, I found that book in the library: Secret Sacrament by Sherryl Jordan. While the story itself was average, the ending was so powerful that I carried it in my mind for years. I think this can help remind authors of how important imagery is in stories.