Who’s Story is it?

This is a post, that is written for the sake of testing an idea, throwing it out there.

I am a regular reader of two big writing magazines in the UK (if anyone knows of any smaller writing magazines, please let me know!). Every month, they both drop on my doormat. I read them with a starvation of new material, but then re-read them at a later point to ingest the words.

One article, which I didn’t read but the title has stuck in my head, asked ‘Who’s Story is it?’. And this is the most important story. I am also reading a book on writing. It has just described what might be written in a marketing e-mail. And I know who the story belongs to.

It doesn’t belong to the sun that is going to die. It doesn’t belong to the human race that will suffer for eternity in 3 days. It belongs to the bastard son, Braverman. I don’t know how, but the plot is the sun, but the story is Braverman’s. It would undoubtedly follow him for 50,000+ words.

I have stalled with Shaun’s Children. And having read these things in the last couple of days, I have learned why. Now I am not going to give up on any of the characters, though I do wonder if they all belong in the same story. At the moment, my story is severely lacking. So I have decided to choose who the story belongs to. As it is a crime novel,, which I hope will be a series, I am going to choose the detective.

So when you are struggling, remember to ask yourself: Who’s story is this?

Writing What You Know

I will say with total honesty that I am not a writer who knows everything. There is not much that I have not heard before. But every once in a while I will hear something new, or gain a new perspective on some old advice.

One of those pieces of advice is ‘write what you know’. I used to think that I know nothing. My life has been inconsequential. But upon revisiting this advice, I realised I actually know quite a lot.

In no particular order, I know:

What it’s like to suffer violence at the hands of someone you love and trust.

What it’s like to be isolated and cut off.

What it’s like to be so mentally ill that you are a danger to those around you, and yourself.

What it is like to have a child removed from your care.

What it’s like to work in a train station.

What it’s like to have a c-section.

What it’s like to serve coffe……….to raise a child with special needs……..to look after a horse…….to fall off a horse…….to witness my parents fighting………to watch an animal die…….to see a dead body…….to give birth to a dead baby

 

See, I know quite a lot. All those are negative things. I am sure I have experienced many happy times, like the birth of all my children, landing a job, meeting a lovely man who turned out to be my dream guy, to be proposed to (though not yet what it;s like to be married).

So if you ever find yourself wondering what you actually know, remember it isn’t only knowledge, but experience. You know more than you think.

Productivity App

Are you like me, finding yourself on Facebook much longer than what you should? I could spend all day on it! I am not a pleasant person to be around if I do. I get especially grumpy if I notice I have wasted a morning on the Social Media site and not done any writing. For some of you, your guilty pleasures could include Twitter and Instagram. Don’t be shy, raise your hand!

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I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser, and I know that you can get similar things on different browsers. At this moment in time I only know about the Firefox one, but have a Google and find one for your browser. The thing I am talking about is LeechBlock.

LeechBlock is a Mozilla Firefox browser plug-in, and you can tell it which sites to block and when. For me, I have blocked Facebook from 9-5 Monday to Friday, amongst others. You can also set the site that you get sent to if you even think about trying your blocked site. I use the default, but you can specify a URL. And the icing on the cake – and I know I would unblock the sites if it wasn’t for this – you can set it so that you cannot change the blocking of those sites during the times they are blocked.

So for me, I could not go to the LeechBlock plug-in and say I want to block Facebook between 10 and 2 if I try to do it between 9-5.

 

And it has helped. I am writing more. But I am also a better mother and housewife too, as I have a little less distraction during the main parts of the day.

Will you be using it?

Find the Story

Following on from ‘Where’s The Mystery?’, I realised that the mystery hasn’t gone completely.

As a writer, my job is to tell the story. So the crimes I read about in the papers may be boring. Joe Bloggs may well have stabbed Jane Bloggs to death. But something you don’t always get to read about is the why. And if you do, it is factual. For instance, it could say that Joe was a jealous man who saw Jane chatting to the male neighbour, saw red and stabbed her. That is his motive. Jealousy. But why was he jealous?

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That is my job as a writer. He could be jealous because he was taught it. Or he could have been cheated on. Or maybe he thought she was too good for him. Maybe he found her after coming back from his own affair, and his jealousy is misplaced. There is a story in there.

 

And that is something I must remember. It is something any writer must remember. We are telling tales, stories that are made up, even if they are inspired by true events.

Guilty Terror

This is a day late due to celebrations over-running yesterday, so I apologise. I will catch up, very soon. I have no choice, as my fiance is the hardest taskmaster known!

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The prompt is: You head the credit union at a company that requires employees to explain needs for loans. One pleads privately for confidentiality, and you talk the the board into his loan, based on their trust in you. You go to your grave without revealing his secret, which is…

And here is the story:

I am writing this, as I think it is important, for should anyone ever want to know the truth, it is here. And I need to make amends with God. For what I did was the most awful thing, and I cannot live with it any longer. This is not a suicide note, as this isn’t the only reason for my demise. But all things lead to this.

It was January 2001, though I don’t remember the exact date, that Asha came to me. I had known Asha a very long time. I cannot say we were friends, but we weren’t enemies. He needed money, and as he knew I was a member of the Credit Union, he came to me. I told him he would have to go down the normal channels, but he refused. I thought that was that, but then he came back. This time he brought his brother with him. At first there was no problem, but they pushed me into my home and forced me into a chair. They threatened me. They told me to get the loan for them. They said I could not say who it was who wanted it. Normally when you get a loan with our Credit Union, you need to state a purpose. It also goes in your favour if you are a saver, though that wasn’t necessary. Asha didn’t have an account, and nor did his brother. I asked them what they wanted the money for. They wouldn’t tell me. But they threatened to hurt my wife and my children if I didn’t do it.

What choice did I have? If I went to the police, they wouldn’t do anything. There was no evidence. I had no bruising, nothing.

So I went ahead and pleaded their case with the Board. I did warn Asha that I may not be successful. And the sum they wanted was greater than any other the Union had ever given out. I was very surprised when it was granted!

That was that. Or so I thought.

Asha was prompt with repayments until July that year. He disappeared. I couldn’t even find his brother, or anyone else who knew him. We started the usual channels to get our money. I felt ashamed. It was on my head. I pleaded his case. I apologised again and again. I got the feeling I would never be trusted again.

But something bigger was about to happen. Two planes flew into the World Trade Centre in America, in September 2001. It wasn’t long before I learned why Asha had needed the money. His face was plastered all over the news. Police came knocking at our door, having learned where the funds for the Al-Qaeda came from. But everything Asha had given was fake.

Fortunately, no one in the company connected the dots. Or if they did, they never told me.

But as I watched the towers fall to the ground, again and again, and saw Asha’s face, I could not help but feel guilt. I funded the group, I probably paid for the tickets, and whatever else they needed. Asha may have been on one of the planes, I was just as guilty. I left the Union.

I did everything I could to wash the blood off my hands. But no matter what, I, the innocent party, had been involved in a terror act of extreme proportions.

And now, fifteen years on, through the guilt and despair, and the keeping of a secret so dark there can never be any light, I have decided it must end. I have lost my wife, and my children don’t speak to me. I have nothing but blood on my hands, and guilt in my heart.

Please forgive me.

Ax

This was a lot easier, but I gave myself a bit longer to figure it out. One day soon you will get two stories in one day, so I am caught up. But I hope that you enjoy today’s story!

And I have been asked what happened to Terry Hulland from yesterday’s story. We will catch up with her real soon. I promise.

 

How is your Story A Day going

First Story

Today is May 1st, so it is also the first day of Story A Day. I have to admit that I didn’t finish the story. I hit the wall. I also wrote it at my Mother-in-Law’s, with my two children and my niece running round. I think the story does have potential though! I used the prompt: When Terry began scrolling through her phone, none of the photos she found were hers.

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And this is what came of it:

When Terry began scrolling through her phone, none of the photos she found were hers.

“Call my phone.” She said to James, who was sitting next to her.

A puzzled look on his face, he did as he was asked. The phone in Terry’s hand buzzed to life.

“How is that possible?” Terry asked.

“Let me have a look.” James took the phone from his girlfriend’s hand. “What is the issue?”

Terry showed him the photo’s. “I didn’t take any of these. And I can’t find mine.”

James scrolled through menus and changed settings. Nothing would return his girlfriend’s photo.

Terry’s alarm woke her. She sleepily got out of bed and took her phone downstairs. She started the coffee, and waited for James to join her. She put the local news on, and paused to view the Breaking News. A mass murder and a bomb. The news was not local. Terry had no idea where it was, but it looked familiar. She heard James moving about upstairs and called out to him to hurry. She showed him the news.

“So what?” He shrugged.

“So what? Does it not look familiar?”

“Where is it?”

“I don’t know, but I know I have seen that place before.” Terry got up to go make coffee in the kitchen and James followed.

The news continued in the background, but was silenced by the gurgling of the percolator. It finally stopped, and the news was audible again.

“The police have released a description of a person of interest and her name is Terry Hulland.” The news anchor reported. “Anyone with information on her where abouts should call the number at the bottom of the screen. Do not approach as she is considered dangerous.”

James looked at Terry, and Terry stared at the TV screen.

“Why do they want me?” She asked.

“Are you sure that you have never been there?” James asked.

“I’m sure. And I am one hundred percent sure that I have nothing to do with what they are reporting in any way at all.”

“Maybe you should go into the police station of your own free will.”

“Maybe I should.” Terry replied as she headed to the door, coat in hand.

The police station was a foreboding building, striking fear into innocent and guilty alike. Terry took a deep breath. James was in the driver’s seat and gave her a thumbs up. She gave a worried smile and walked into the station.

“Hi, I would like to speak to someone in charge. I believe I am a person of interest in the bombings.” Terry said to the man behind the counter.

The staff member raised a finger and lifted a telephone receiver on his desk. In seconds, two officers came out from a side door and charged at Terry, who had no chance to react.

“Terry Hulland, you are being arrested on suspicion of murder.” One of the officers said.

“What?” Terry said, confused as they continued telling her her rights.

She was led to a side room, and left there to wait for a member of CID. In those quiet moments, where there wasn’t a single sound to be heard, it dawned on her. The photos. That is where she had seen the place before. She had no idea why, or who. But she knew she had gotten herself in something deep, and she had no way to get out of it.

What felt like hours later, a CID officer entered the room followed by a young PC.

“Hello, I am DS Tennant, and this is PC Smith.” The man in the suit said as they sat down. “You know why you’re here?”

“Sort of.” Tracey nodded and shrugged.

“You are our prime suspect in the murder and bombing that occurred in Reading.”

“Why?”

DS Tennant produced some folders. “Do you recognise these?”

“No.” Terry said as she viewed the photos.

Have you had a go today? Post in the comments.

A Little Teaser

What follows is an exercise for my FutureLearn Course. It is a course on writing fiction. This has been done parallel to the Comprehensive course from the Writer’s Bureau. The exercise was to write 200-350 words of a story. This is an idea I have for a future novel. I thought it would be good to test the idea. I would love any feedback in the comments. Would you want to read more.

The first witness was called to the stand. There was no doubt for the prosecution that this was an open and shut case. All the witnesses were still present when police arrived at the scene, and all statements were taking promptly. After confirming name and to tell the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth, the witness sat down.

“You were there the night that the victim, James Reynolds was murdered?” The prosecution asked.

“No.” The witness replied.

“But we have a statement here that was taken at the scene.”

“Well, yes I live there. So I was, but I thought you meant I was in the actual place.”

“Did you see what happened?” The prosecutor took a step out from behind the bench.

“No.”

“But it says here in your statement, in detail, what happened. Your statement is almost identical to the ten others we collected, and is in line with the autopsy and every other part of the investigation. Do you know the man in the dock behind me?” The prosecutor turned and pointed to the defendant.

“No.”

“Is there a reason you are changing your answers?”

“No”

It didn’t take long for the court to see that the witness wasn’t going to talk. The next witness came, and the same things were said. All ten witnesses came, all witnesses denied their statements. All witnesses were warned they could be charged with perverting the course of justice. At the end of the trial, with only circumstantial evidence, the defendant was released from custody.

It was this point that those ten witnesses lives would change.

 

I hope you enjoyed it! And don’t forget to leave your comments below.