From my previous post you’ll know I’m struggling with story arc, plot and structure. Struggling but not surrendering. My protagonist Cora, her mother Wanda and sister Rose have too much gumption to disappear without a fight.
I’m working through the Chapter 7 of Burroway’s Writing Fiction. I’ve mentioned the book before, and I’ll probably mention it again. It’s the book that promises nothing more than to help you be a better writer.
I purchased the book used. When it arrived I tore open the cardboard, flipped through the pages and knew by the stale scent of nicotine that the previous owner smoked.
I imagine them at their desk, open book and ready. They light up and lean back. The smoke hovers. They ponder. Another cigarette and the fumes begin to seep into the fibers of the pages. It lingers. It won’t wash off.
A few words and a dozen unfiltered Camels later the writer gives up and goes back to their day job. They wrap up the book with their dreams.
But they leave something behind. Not just their scent. Not just their frustration. Something tangible. A receipt.
I know what my frustrated writer had for dinner three years ago. Based on the amount she purchased (and now I’ve decided that she is a woman) I know she’s probably feeding a family on a budget. I know where she purchased the food, how much she paid for it and that she saved three dollars and eighty-six cents. She used a Visa card. I know who her cashier in Lane Three was. I even know the shop’s phone number. Googling the area code, I’m not surprised to find Key Markets Lake Station is in the Midwest.
There’s a story here. This is how we find stories. I want to know about the woman who dreamed of being a writer, smoked too much and had tacos for dinner on March 11, 2007.