Monday, 14 June 2010

A363 and activity 2.4

Working through pages 18 and 19 sparked a lot of ideas - looking at the story from the antagonist's point of view can reveal different conflicts and plot twists. This came out of activity 2.4, telling a story from the POV of someone you don't like/sympathise with. I then elected to leave the protagonist's part out all together, as if you were listening to one half of a phone conversation. Hopefully, imagination and empathy from the reader will fill in the blanks. I'm only putting part of it up, as I'm working on it for a flash fiction comp - I'm better at flash than I thought, as you hack away all the unecessary verbiage you leave the story clean of extra weight.

Of course I remember you. Nineteen eighty eight? George and Janice Fisher, carers, I have the file here.

Do you know how highly people thought of the Fishers?

George stood up for you in court…you know, when your mother—when she had her breakdown.

Most kids like a bit of rough and tumble. And kids love being tickled, my own grandson…and you did ask to go back to them. How old were you then? Nine? Ten.

He always spoke highly of you. You were placed there for six years and did very well. That was after your Mum died, wasn’t it?

I think you should consider everything he did for you. Just because there were a few silly games you didn’t like…

I don’t think an eleven year old would even know what an erection was.

This kind of conflict immediately ramps up the tension, compared to say, the description of someone nervously approaching this officious social worker or whatever he/she is. I imagined her as a late middle aged social worker trying to fend off a potential lawsuit.

Having enjoyed activity 2.5 and read V.S. Pritchett's short story, I tried to follow this with the story of two women, both mothers, sitting together in a hospital corridor. At first, they seem to ahve more in common than conflict, then I let their differences come in. This is VERY first draft.

Trina looked in her handbag for a mint, a bit of chewing gum maybe. Nothing.
‘My Marcus, he’s at college now, you know.’
Marilyn looked straight ahead. ‘I heard. Engineering, wasn’t it?’
‘The government give a grant, it’s called a bursary. They need engineers that badly. He’s doing really well, passed everything so far.’
‘Good for him. At least he’ll be able to get a proper job.’
That stung. Trina sat up. ‘What do you mean? My husband works very hard. It’s not easy to get work around here.’
That wasn’t strictly true. He had been a very hard worker when Trina met him, but now they got by on her wages at the Co-op and the odd job he would manage off the books.
Marilyn rolled her head towards Trina, not quite meeting her gaze. ‘I didn’t mean nothing.’
Trina sat and smarted for at least a minute. ‘At least I got a husband.’ It was supposed to be under her breath, but it came out louder than she had expected, in the echoing hospital hallway.
‘I’ve got a husband, too. We’re separated, that’s all. Marriages go through bad patches. Andy’s been very low since his Dad died.’
Trina snorted, but in a ladylike way. Bad patch.
Marilyn’s voice sounded softer. ‘We shouldn’t argue, not now.’
Right enough. Still no news.

I've now got 7 short stories out and five more pieces for competitions. I had to come up with a filing system, and gave the stories proper cards and stuck them on the notice board - it looks like a writer's room (except for the admittedly quirky accesories: a giant box of lego, a basket of mismatched socks, a spare door for an Aga, a sewing machine and a sickly magpie in a cat carrier.

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