A short story begins


Day 2.

So, after last evening’s post, I started off on another grand adventure in writing.

I haven’t written anything new since the beginning of February (as I’ve been editing the four short stories I’d completed in the 7 weeks before that) so getting started was something of a trial.

As an aid, I tried visualising what I wanted my opening to look like – a fast car racing along a winding sea road, the top down, the wind blowing and the two people in the car watching the scenery go by. Using that trick, it was very easy to do the first few opening paragraphs:

The open topped roadster, its paintwork dull under a sky full of racing clouds, roared up the rise, taking the corner in a squeal of smoking tyres. The driver, his main of black hair whipping behind him, whooped, his smile broad and full of glee. The distant crash of waves on a shingle shore carried to the car and its occupants, as did the clean fresh smell of the steady breeze.

Hannah crossed her arms and sunk lower in the seat, her head disappearing beneath he level of the windscreen. From behind large sunglasses, her eyes were slitted and her mouth pulled down in disapproval. To her left was a field of flowing grass, broken by a long line of fence, built up stone by stone in parallel with the road. She saw a farmer sitting on an old, decrepit tractor track them with a disapproving glare, then he sunk from view as the car descended the winding road.

‘Slow down will you, for God’s sake,’ she called above the engine’s roar. Peter looked sideways at her, and the lines around his mouth deepened as his lips thinned.

In the space of a few paragraphs, I’ve set the scene and introduced both main characters, and given a hint of the tension in the marriage. Now, none of the above is guaranteed to arrive in the finished version intact. I might lay on the description of the surrounding ocean and farmland a bit more thick and definitely fix the spelling (mane for main, for instance). I’ve made a note to myself to find the make and model of the sort of car I’m wanting Peter to be driving – roadster is ok, but giving it a name like MG better fixes it in the mind of the reader. Plus it shows you’ve at least attempted to do some research.

Just a word on workspace. Generally speaking, I’d like to be able to sit in the study, on the single seated couch I have, without any distractions after the children are asleep. However, that means I wouldn’t get to see my wife after a day at work, so the (happy) compromise is planting myself on the couch where the tv is and writing away while the late news is on in the background, occasionally surfacing to exchange comments on what has happened during the day. Which explains why my output last night was 623 words over 40 minutes, when I was aiming for 1000. Again, a happy compromise, but I intend trying to make up the difference tonight.

See you all tomorrow.

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