Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Getting somewhere...

Last night I wrote the first draft of my first attempt at a short story competition. Eek! It's for this month's Writing Magazine and I wrote it in one go, by hand, in my front room, while my delightful husband made macaroni cheese.

I can't publish it here because entries must be unpublished but I'm pretty sure I'll near re-write the whole thing anyway so I may post the first draft once I've done that. But I have to say it was a relief to write something from beginning to end.

The competition is based around an opening line as follows:
"Is this seat taken?" said a softly spoken man whom Veronica had never seen before.*

Not exactly Shakespeare, but still. It's a beginning. So I brainstormed a few possible scenarios, trying to avoid cliches (I hear they're rife for new writers), predictable situations (doctor's waiting room, blind date, etc, etc) and anything with the whiff of implausibility (he's a spy! An alien! etc, etc).

On second thoughts, there's nothing wrong with implausibility (I'm now questioning if that's even a word...), I just want to start out writing something believable and save the wild imaginings for that comedy sci-fi novel I started writing when I was 15 (involving an upside down world where people live closer to the earth's core because the surface has frozen and all the colours are reversed - so the sky is green, land is blue, that kind of thing. I can't remember quite what was funny about it, but there was a baddie and a goodie and a love story in there somewhere. Maybe I should dig it out...)

Which leads me onto the thing I said I'd do in my last post which is put up some scribbles I've written in the past for potential feedback, self-critiquing and general entertainment. But I can't find any of them. So that might have to wait. Another good reason to start writing new stuff I guess...

Stick with me people. I promise it'll get better. The beast inside is being unleashed with every letter I type...


* NB: In the magazine, it said that the possibilities for this scenario are endless, but I'd have to disagree, for two reasons (tell me if I'm being obvious/getting pedantic):
1. Names are limiting, to both era, trends and social background - could you imagine a royal called Jordan? Probably not, unless it's the Prince or Princess of...Can you imagine a mixed race, chain-smoking, 21-year-old mother of ten by four different fathers named Veronica? I think not. So already we're placing certain limitations on who the female character can be, and therefore how she can behave/what situations she might be in (incidentally I like the sound of the 21-year-old...might save that for a future story. She'd have a few tales to tell, wouldn't she?).
2. The implication of the statement "whom Veronica had never seen before" is that she is in a situation where she expects to see only people she knows - i.e. somewhere she goes regularly. Again, not so endless after all. How many places do you go to on such a regular basis that you expect to know pretty much everyone you see? See what I mean?

I'm not complaining, I just think it's interesting that a supposedly "endless" amount of possibilities can suddenly narrow considerably with just a little bit of thought...so what scenario did I choose? You'll have to wait to find out! Ha. Tease.

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