Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Short Story - A Snapshot of Life

What I like about short stories is they’re short, of course, and you have a nice, tidy story wrapped up in less than an hour. Most short stories take about a half hour to read, some more, some less. What it boils down to is a snapshot of someone’s life. The timeline of the story is typically short, as well. Sometimes, the action takes place in a few minutes. Other times, a few days go by. It teaches us, as writers, to think about time, and how it adds intensity to the story.

I might be thinking that way because my story, One More Minute, is in the Tick Tock: A Stitch in Time Anthology. Time was a necessary element in our stories. Still, as I think about the next contest theme, and prompt, my mind goes to the timeline. The story I want to tell will probably take place in less than week, maybe even a weekend.

Do you think about time when you write? A writing instructor talked to us about how important time is in a story. How do you feel when a character is constantly checking her watch? Do you feel tension when the character in your story is late for an appointment? What if someone is rushing into something, a building, a relationship, a decision?

perfect setting for a murder??

I dropped my rusty, old minivan off at a junkyard. My friend was on her way to pick me up, but I got delayed in the “office” (i.e. an RV parked at the entrance of the junkyard) and couldn’t go out to meet her. She started to worry about me, so she called my cellphone. I heard it ringing but couldn’t pick up because I was talking to the owner about the van and getting signatures on the title. It was past the time I said I’d be done. She called again. I quickly picked up and said, “I’m in the office,” and hung up.

When I finally came out of the RV/office, she had her hand on the phone ready to call 9-1-1. She said, “I didn’t know where you were.” I said, “I was in the office.”

“That wasn’t helpful,” she said. “The office could have been anywhere. I looked out over that field of old cars and thought, there’s a lot of evidence out there for murders.”

Now, that’s a great set-up for a mystery. A fictional one. I’m happy to say that I came out alive. We had a good laugh about it on our way to the gym, and I kept thinking:
Timing is everything in a story.

Mary Aalgaard writes theater reviews and supports the arts through her blog Play off the Page. She teaches youth theater workshops in the Brainerd Lakes area of Minnesota, writes articles for regional magazines, and works with both seniors and youth in multi-generational programs to enhance quality of life and build community.

Mary is also a freelance writer and blogger. Her words stretch across the globe through her blogs and articles. Her writing extends to plays as she works with both children and adults to create original dramas. She gives private piano, and writing lessons, and theatre workshops for kids at Central Lakes College.

Go. Create. Inspire!


Mary Aalgaard said...

Thanks for sharing my story on writing short stories. I really do like the pacing of them. Write on!

Cherie Reich said...

It's rather sweet she was worried, and that's a great way to come up with a story idea.

The Cynical Sailor said...

That is a great set-up for a story! I'm imagining all sorts of spooky happenings at the junkyard.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Thanks, I know. It's nice to know someone's got your back.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Exactly. So many places to hide in there.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

LOL That's a funny story about your friend. Plus she gave you a story idea, too.

Jemi Fraser said...

Now that's a good friend!!
Junkyards are definitely great settings!

Yolanda Renée said...

Have you written the story yet? You've got a good one! And it's Halloween!

cleemckenzie said...

An absolutely perfect setting for all kinds of mayhem!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

There are stories everywhere! Too many to ignore...even in the junkyard.