Thursday, 12 May 2011

Writing Tip # 2 continued with an example

I went to a supermarket yesterday and was momentarily shocked to see a garden rubbish bag apparently dumped near some bushes. Only when I looked further did I notice that the area around the bushes had been cleared of weeds and that, therefore, the bag presumably belonged to a gardener employed by the supermarket.

A good theme for a story I mused.

As I lay in bed this morning I thought I would use the object plotting device (from now called Martin’s Game for ease) to see if I could create a story.

This is what I came up with. The objects I noted down were 1 the bag, 2 a little decorative brush hanging on the bedroom wall, 3 a picture of blue bells on a calendar my father painted, 4 a bottle of anti-bacterial cleaner now filled with water and used as a spray, 5 a suitcase containing spare pillows, 6 a mirror, 7 the glass of the mirror, 8 a luminous star 9 the curtains

This led to the following idea for a story.

1. setting – bag in the car park (supermarket car park)
2. protagonist – brush on my wall (cleaner, a newly redundant executive or headteacher)
3. antagonist – picture of a blue bell (elegant young woman in a big car)
4. theme – bottle of surface cleaner now filled with water (cleanliness [is next to godliness])
5. conflict – a suitcase (the woman throws out rubbish from her car)
6. main action – a mirror (darkened windows in the car which means you cannot see that the car is filled with rubbish which will lead to the conflict)
7. subplots – the reflective glass of the mirror (The man reflects on the fact he has suffered loss of prestige and status – The young woman believes her throwing out rubbish gives him a job)
8. resolution/cliff-hanger – a star (The teacher taught and helped create this successful yet dreadful young woman – The woman used to respect the cleaner who was once her teacher)
9. point of view – a curtain (a young woman who is wondering whether to go to university or into a bank and watches the events unfold)

Clearly, there are even more things at work here in my sub-conscious than I was at first aware of and they were, no doubt, rippling through the process and adding more dimensions and texture to the idea.

Chief amongst these are my elderly father who never fulfilled his potential and advised me not to become a teacher because he had been one for a year and could not cope with it. Yet, at the same time, he has always encouraged me to learn. He is now in his late eighties and beginning to find life a struggle. Late in life he took up painting with great personal success.

The second is the whole world scenario of massive cuts to public services, the amnesia concerning the catastrophic failure of the banks, the shifting of blame and punishment onto public servants and the poor and the continuing adoration of the wealthy and successful.

Third, is the problem young people face in finding the best career for themselves and in building their own moral compass.

Fourth, the problem of older people being made expected to work for longer then being made redundant while society turns a blind eye to the loss of their skill and experience.

Finally, the whole debate about the degradation of our environment and our planet in order to enrich ourselves.

Or maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that cheese.

You can find more of my stories in Pick and Mix on Amazon.

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