By Melanie Page (Author of Tale Spinning – the art of the short story)
Hi writing fans, back again.
Today I’m going to continue the story of Terry and his lost wallet. Now, in part 1, we looked at the complication, that is Terry discovering that his wallet had gone astray. And of course, it happened at the worst possible time, when he is trying to buy flowers for the important lady in his life.
So, what are we going to need to tell the story properly? Well, we will need rising tension, where we describe what Terry believes will happen if he doesn’t get the flowers, along with a suitable conclusion. And a twist would be great, but it needs to relate to Terry and what he wants/ or what he expects will happen.
It is perfectly permissible to write the conclusion first, but because I don’t want to lose your interest, I will do this chronologically.
Now, as Terry will be leaving the shop, we cannot be in the viewpoint of the florist. We have to be in Terry’s viewpoint, either in first person (I) or in third person (Terry/ he). I’m going to go for third person, although in this context, first person might work equally well or better as he could speak directly to the reader.
What are some things that could add tension? One might be a time limit. Are the shops about to shut? Or is he on his way to meet the girl? The second is more likely. If he had plenty of time, he would be able to make plans. The second source of tension is Terry’s expectation of the girl’s reaction to him not having the flowers. Why is it so important that he have something to give her? And is there more to it than just the flowers? After all, if they are going on a date, he needs access to money? Otherwise we have a plot hole, and that would never do.
Where will Terry get the money for the flowers? From a friend? From Mum? Will he steal it? Will he steal the flowers? Will he succeed? Will he fail?
Now at this point, I need to know what the end is going to be. Does it suit my purpose for Terry to have the flowers, or an excuse, when he keeps his appointment with the girl?
So, what elements of the story can I use so as not to overly complicate things. Not a date, otherwise the loss of wallet is too inconvenient. I want him to realise that he has left it at home, but, because of the time constraint, he won’t be able to go home and get it. Therefore we need to be in third person omniscient narration (or obviously first person, but with first person it’s hard to do description) so I can spell out his thoughts and feelings.
Here is the third person narrated intro that I used last time.
Terry walked up to the florist’s counter and lay the bouquet tenderly down, so as not to bruise the delicate, half opened roses. The woman behind the counter smiled, which was hardly surprising, considering the price. ‘That is an excellent choice, sir.’ She deftly slipped the dripping stems into a kind of sleeve then wrapped the flowers in white tissue and cellophane. ‘The lady is very fortunate, I’m sure she will love these.’
‘I hope so.’
As she moved to the register, Terry reached around to the back pocket of his jeans. Then his grin slipped momentarily. He reached around with the other hand. Again, nothing. Panicked, he slipped his hand into the front pocket of his pants, and then into the inner pocket of his bomber style jacket. Zip. Zilch. Zero.
OK- Here is my plan. Terry has been enamoured of the young lady, let’s call her Kate, and she has been away, but now he is going to declare his affections and present her with flowers on her return from a trip away. Hence the urgency, he wants to meet her at the bus. Perhaps the florist is near the bus stop, or on the way? Those details need to go into the story at the outset… but without further ado, here is the next bit of Terry’s story.
‘Can you just keep them for me please. Just for a few minutes?’
She hesitated then caved. ‘Go on. I’ll put them in the cold room for you. Only half an hour mind!’
Thank goodness! ‘Thank you!’ He turned and bolted for the door. Outside he turned his head. There were a few people beginning to gather at the bus stop. He checked his watch. Twenty minutes, which meant he needed to be back here in fifteen.
He grabbed his bike and mounted, wobbling out onto the laneway. Where could he get money? Home was too far. He’d never make it back in time. What about work? One of his mates would lend him, he was sure.
It was only five minutes to the Maccas where he had a regular spot on the roster. He shoved his pushy into the bike rack. The automatic doors opened for him, engulfing him in cool air and cooking smells.
Fortunately, it wasn’t busy. He lounged against the counter and grinned at the kid who was serving. She was new, he was pretty sure.
‘Is Jonno here?’ He kept his tone pretty casual, but his heart was racing.
‘I don’t know Jonno. But Derek is here, out the back, if you want to see him.’
Damn! The last person he wanted to see was his boss. ‘Nah, it’s all good.’ It wasn’t all good at all.
She filled a cup with Coke and headed for the drive through window. Like a flash he leaned across the counter and opened the register. The money slid into his hand. He felt a flush of shame but quashed it. He would put the money back and no one would be the wiser.
Now of course we know that it is wishful thinking that no one will know… So, what will happen?
Well, that is a question for another time!
Perhaps you could consider which alternative ending you would choose, or how you would do the middle differently.
Until next time.