Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thirty Words and a Story

A thirty word story, the idea was from a contest I mentioned it in my last post.  The idea intrigued me.  Thirty words, how hard can that be?

I found myself eating those words as I sat in the waiting room of an overcrowded doctor's office and no inspiration was forthcoming.  Across from me the constant dings and rings of an online game distracted me.  I looked up and met the bland gaze of a middle-aged woman who then returned to the game on her blackberry with all the outward enthusiasm of a child who has been told to finish off their least favourite vegetable.  Then a phone began ringing and she set the device aside to pull another mobile from her overstuffed purse.  When I looked up next, the game was dinging away and she was texting with methodical fury.  Somewhere in the back of my mind a bell rang and a voice recorded the single word "character".

Nearby a man sported a bandage across half his face and a scowl that threatened that he might not be adverse to creating a matching wound on someone elses face.  Beside me a woman avidly read her magazine, yet she never turned the page.  Another point to ponder.  Of course you can only ponder such things for so long.  So I turned to the mystery of my thirty word story.  Five minutes, one notepad and a complimentary pen later - no where near the word count.  I'm shocked.  This was supposed to be a breeze. I figured I'd have four or five stories to choose from by the time the wait was over.

 So back to the story.  I remind myself that writing a thirty word story before leaving the unending waiting room is doable. And  there was Ernest Hemingway's clever little story for inspiration.
 "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."  Ernest Hemingway
And if he could do it... wait - Hemingway?  Who am I kidding?  But I tell myself that his was a story in six words, I have twenty-three more to play with, definitely much easier than six.  So I have an advantage - only fair considering who I'm playing against. 

Finally there it is - I've written the story but there's an obstacle.  First, thirty words longhand has to be counted by hand.  When was the last time I didn't use word count?  I'd almost forgotten that old method - 1,2,3,4,5 slash, record count over the grouping and repeat.  Yes, I had too much time on my hands but what else are you to do in a waiting room where the last National Geographic has been removed from the magazine rack?

And just as my brain began to connect with another idea - the wait was over.

So the story - first, it's not quite thirty words and second, it's not the best not-quite thirty word story you'll ever read, but hopefully it's not the worst.  So here it is, my one attempt before I go back to the form I do best - long.
She loved him.  Now all that stood between them was one dead body 
and the murder weapon she held in her hand.

But if any of you are interested - click here for the contest.  If nothing else, it's a great little experiment for those holding patterns we all find in life - whatever waiting room you happen to be in.  It beats a three year old Family Circle magazine - that's for sure.

We all end up in the waiting rooms of life for one thing or another.  How do you fill the waiting hours?


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