1850. How I (usually) write a story

When this blog hits a roundish story number (in this case Number 1850) I try to blather on in a way more meaningless and useless than usual. Every second posting on the Net seems to offer advice on how to do this or that; how to increase readers to the blog, how to write a blog, and so on.

I don’t purport to be an expert (in anything). So today, rather than tell you how to go about writing a story I thought I would tell you how I go about writing a story. Perhaps the odd snippet might be of help. Possibly not.

This is me cooking, but I could just as easily be cooking up a story.

When I start writing a story I have absolutely no idea how it will end.

First of all, when I rise in the morning I check the news online, and look at the obituaries to see who has expired that I went to school with. From the obituary column I take one or two female and male names and jot them down. I don’t jot down any surnames, just the first names. I jot names down because by the time of a second cup of coffee I will have forgotten everything.

Armed with a name, the first sentence gets written. It can be anything. Sometimes it’s suggested by the name. Who cares? I type out whatever comes in my head. Today the selected names are Sheree, Ferris, Beverley, and Rex. Pick a name; if more enter the story the other three names are waiting!

Let’s start:

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong.

Isn’t it exciting? Who knows what she will do next! Who knows where it will end up!

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. It seems that she stuck it in where it didn’t belong just the once too often.

Handy hint: Throw in little details to give the illusion that things are happening in real life.

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. It seems that last Saturday, mid-morning, she stuck it in where it didn’t belong just the once too often. She had been baking for the first half of the morning and now was taking a small basket of oatmeal cookies to Ferris, who worked on the corner mending and sewing horse saddles for the rich and indolent. Beverley had heard that his marriage had disintegrated several months earlier and she, well, kind of fancied him.

“Hi,” said Beverley. “I was just passing on a visit to my grandmother’s when I thought I’d pop in to see how you’re doing. No doubt, with your wife no longer being at home, you miss the odd bit of home cooking. So I bought you this basket of homemade oatmeal cookies.”

“That’s very kind of you,” said Ferris. “Yes, I certainly miss the home cooking since Sheree has gone.”

“I suppose,” said Beverley tentatively, “she is not coming back?”

“You supposed right,” said Ferris.

“So how are you coping on your own then?”

“Why the hell don’t you mind your own business?” said Ferris, chucking a large pair of pliers and a mallet onto a pile of leather next to him. “What’s it to you?”

“I was just trying to be sympathetic, that’s all.”

“Well you’re a bloody nosy-parker. I don’t want your dried up cookies. You can take them away and piss off.”

“I heard,” said Beverley rather rankled, “that Sheree hadn’t left you at all, but you did her in and hid the body underneath the floorboards of this workshop.”

Ferris saw red. The collapse of a marriage is a very gruelling experience. One never knows what will happen next. Beverley’s been missing for just on a week now. No one has thought to look under the floorboards of Ferris’ workshop. And, yeah, Ferris enjoyed the cookies.

(Well I’m as surprised as you are).

41 thoughts on “1850. How I (usually) write a story

    1. Bruce G. Post author

      Thanks Andrea. But what I failed to mention is that I’m usually a couple of months ahead – so if nothing happens it doesn’t matter. Like in these past few days I have gone from 63 stories in waiting down to 54!

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  1. Herb

    That was very instructional. I learned two main points for sure. One is to jot down the names you plan to use before your second cup of coffee. The other is, never mess with Bruce or you may be very cleverly done away with in a very creative fashion.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
        1. Bruce G. Post author

          I wrote this on 23rd April – as far as I can see – and it’s been revised 5 times since. But I don’t think I made any big changes. I have to number everything otherwise I don’t know where I am.
          Still no shopping lists lying about. People post-lockdown seem to have tidied up their tidiness act.

          Liked by 2 people

          Reply
  2. umashankar

    I am indebted by that Masterclass in story writing, and surprised I am! You make it sound like a spontaneous motion like fish swimming in water or birds flitting about in a blue sky. But to the less endowed blokes like me who will often linger over the opening sentence for months, the experience belongs to an entirely different cosmos. That, perhaps, is the difference between the talented and the imposter.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Bruce G. Post author

      Uma, you have just explained why you are a better writer than I am. There’s a vast difference in the long run between care and slapdash. I often wish I’d take a bit more care and come up with something more enduring.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  3. badfinger20 (Max)

    ‘From the obituary column I take one or two female and male names and jot them down.’
    Ahh…No wonder they end up like they do…hell they are already there!

    Sometimes if you study over something too much you can polish the soul out of it…that goes with music and probably with stories also…hmmm Slapdash…good band name…along with Naked Fish.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Bruce G. Post author

      Slapdash and the Naked Fish – just don’t make it a rap or a punk band because I won’t buy their records. (Can you still buy records? and what would I play them on?)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        No rap or punk for me… actually my son really likes vinyl and so do a lot of young people now…a lot of new bands are releasing their songs on vinyl as well as digital and cd.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
    1. Bruce G. Post author

      I usually write early in the morning (I get up at 4) and I write only if there’s no work to do. It only takes me about 5 minutes to write a story, but I look at it for a couple of months and change words or phrases here and there. By 9 in the morning I’ve written half a dozen stories or so and am ready for bed again! The thing I most dislike because it takes longer to do than to write it is to post it on Word Press. The cursor keeps popping down to the bottom of the page and it’s the most soul-destroying thing to have to try and make a correction. I use Word Press’s old posting setup because it’s more flexible. Wine doesn’t help. It simply drives me to watch gardening videos on You Tube!!

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      Reply
  4. observationblogger

    Darn keyboard, did it again. Sorry Bruce. I was going to say this was not highly engaging. Jk. No, this was fascinating to see how content you are cooking and stirring up stories. Also, you look really well…strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

I delight in having my dull life coloured by your intelligent perceptions, your wit, and your vivacity.

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