Monthly Archives: February 2013

Friday Fiction – Sunset in Departures

I’m swapping my posts this week. Today’s is my Friday Fiction, tomorrow I hope to post a response to this week’s InMon prompts. In honour of the impending celebration of Valentine’s Day, and of my husband who is flying out on business tonight, this one’s a rare thing for me – a love story. No prior drafts this week – I neglected to keep the changes, but in any event they were pretty minor. I’d love to read your comments – good or bad.

Thanks, as always to our pilot, Rochelle, and this week’s guest photographer, Rich.

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Sunset in Departures (Genre: Romance)

He warms me like the sun. Until he leaves. And as I watch him go, it sinks out of sight leaving only a reflected glow. The sun will rise again tomorrow. I will be warm and he will return.

But, for now, there is no sun. Only the reflected rays of happiness: a photograph, a card, a bunch of flowers.

So it has been, every time. Except today. Because today there is another reminder. A reflection so strong it is no moon, no distant star. A new sun, equally bright.

He warms me like the sun. Until his father returns.

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Any resemblance…

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We’ve all seem the disclaimer at the end of movies – covering the production team from any allegations of libel if someone thinks they have been portrayed unfairly. It’s a danger of any fictional work, of course, because as writers, we draw inevitably from our own experiences to a greater or lesser degree, and as humans, we are inclined to see ourselves in the stories we read.

To some extent, of course, it’s a sign of successful writing. All novels, most obviously those with a clear hero or heroine, play on the reader’s ability to empathise with the main character. Romances work because the readers fall in love with the beau(x), thrillers thrill when we feel the MC’s fear and tension.

But when you know the author, that’s when it becomes a potential problem. Suddenly, you’re reading about a villain who has one or two of your physical traits or quirky habits … suddenly you think the author is writing about you … you decide he or she has secretly thought of you as a villain, a philanderer, murderer, whatever.

Well, no. Here’s my disclaimer. All the characters I write are entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is … actually, not exactly coincidental, but it is specific. I may well have stolen a trait, quirk or anecdote from you, and if that upsets you, let me know and I’ll do my best to remove it. However, one feature does not a character make – whatever I’ve taken from you to build this character, you can assume that’s all I’ve taken. Everything else about the character is either taken from someone else, or is entirely fictitious. Using specific elements from real life makes my characters feels more 3-dimensional; inserting real people into my stories would entirely stifle my creativity and exercising my creativity is the entire reason I write.

The best example I can give is a song. Two years ago, my husband and I did February Album Writing Month. I wrote the lyrics, he composed the music. For one comic song, I wrote lyrics some of which were based on my husband’s anecdotes of youthful drinking exploits. The bits that he recognises are about him, everything else is not. The father and son characters portrayed in the song are entirely fictional, the “banshee” wife is certainly neither me nor my lovely mother in law, and the song is a work of fiction.

So next time you’re reading something where you know the author, feel free to look out for something of you in the story, but if you find it, be flattered that they find you so interesting, and don’t worry that the whole story is about you.

And if you don’t believe me, I’ll leave the last word to Carly Simon

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Friday Fiction – The Sculpture

This week’s FF prompt shows that many writers are multi-talented. Claire Fuller’s photo is of her own sculpture. As ever, other responses can be found through Rochelle’s site.

For me, this one was a bit of a challenge. I had this idea, but I couldn’t think of a way to squash it down to anything like 100 words. It felt like a whole novel. The muse also kept shouting “Cicero”, which is not helpful. Cicero’s story is completely unconnected to the one I wanted to tell, and I couldn’t spare any words on incorporating it, or even on adding a cat called Cicero (Don’t you think it’s a brilliant name for a cat?). So the editing process was a lot less smooth this week, as those who read the previous drafts will see.

I had also challenged myself this week to try to go back to my roots and make this more of a story and less a description, which I feel like the last few have been veering towards. AND I wanted to see what I could do with Rochelle’s motto that the picture is “inspiration not illustration”. Lots of ambitions; I’d love to hear if you think I met any of them!

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The Sculpture

Lois dropped the chisel into the sink and ran the taps. Warm water flowed over her skin, revealing the fingerprint bruises and historic scars which mottled her arms.

Her latest work, the two-faced man, lay on the work-bench. Cold and lifeless. It was a grotesque vision – too many mouths, slashed into pale white; too many unseeing eyes staring at her.

As a sculptor, she knew that the work of a chisel could never be changed or undone, but this time she felt no remorse. There had been no mistake. And blood, she found, washed off more easily than plaster dust.

Version 1

Lois peeled dusty sleeves from her arms, revealing fingerprint bruises and peeling scabs. She hardly looked at them, concentrating instead on scrubbing at her hands.

“Cicero left his wife for a girl,” she said to noone. “Two-faced bastard.”

Warm water rushed into the sink, washing away the fine white powder which had coated her fingers.

“It seems he might have loved her in the beginning, but

[I stopped here. The story was getting long and I wasn’t getting anywhere!]

Version 2

Lois dropped the chisel into the sink and ran the taps. Warm water flowed over her skin, revealing again the fingerprint bruises and historic scars which mottled her arms. A sculptor, she knew that the work of a chisel could never be changed or undone, but this time she felt no remorse, no mistake. And blood, it turned out, washes off more easily than plaster dust.

 [This was the nub of what I wanted to say, so having gone too long, I thought I’d get it down and then see how much space there was for explanations. And for Cicero! 66 words down, only 37 to go]

Version 3

Lois dropped the chisel into the sink and ran the taps. Warm water flowed over her skin, revealing again the fingerprint bruises and historic scars which mottled her arms.

Her latest work, the two-faced man, lay on the work-bench. It was a grotesque vision – too many wide laughing mouths, slashed into pale white. Cold and lifeless.

A sculptor, she knew that the work of a chisel could never be changed or undone, but this time she felt no remorse, no mistake. And blood, it turned out, washes off more easily than plaster dust.

[At 93 words, this was close to what I wanted, but a few places weren’t quite right. The changes from this to the final version reflect a few added words – in particular the addition of the eyes and making “no mistake” into a sentence of its own – but also polishing of the image. The idea that the mouths were “laughing” seemed incongruous unless the man is still mocking her, and there wasn’t space to show that to my satisfaction so I ditched it. Washes became washed – there is a grammatical argument for either, but I preferred the latter in the end because it felt less like the author creeping in.

The ‘eyes’ sentence took a lot of thinking about. I wanted it to work for either interpretation, but while I could imagine slashes looking like extra mouths, I wasn’t convinced that the attack would have created extra eyes. And then I realised a way that two eyes could still be too many. She’s frightened of him – even in death.]

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