Friday Fictioneers – The Dunny on Dune View

PHOTO PROMPT © Lisa Fox

There are no dunes on Dune View. Only scrubby marsh—land too poor to develop, left to creatures that slink and wriggle. And above the scrub, ranks of bungalows march down the hill in tight formation.

They should never have zoned this green space residential. But a planning committee trip to the sister project in the Virgin Islands swung the deal.

The crapper was supposed to be a pointed joke. But it became a feature, the only one in a featureless landscape. And after adding the second story, we became celebrities—we have a voice, but the wrong one.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Shoeshine

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Horacio recognises trouble when he sees those shoes. They are plain evil—dusty brown, the leather hard and cracked like the soil after a six-month drought. These are devil shoes. The feet plant themselves on the shoeshine stand with swaggering confrontation.  

Horacio’s shoeshine station is reserved for good men. They ascend its throne to rent, for five minutes, the lofty experience of a master craftsman serving at their feet. Uptown is better, in the canyons where they excavate money. Or the tourists in the plaza, but they wear flipflops. You can’t shine flipflops.

“Begone devil,” he says to the shoes.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

161. Is originality essential?

Does a story have to be original to succeed? Indeed, can a story ever be original?

The answer may depend on how we define the term, story. I’m going to distinguish here between the terms, “plot” and “story”. A plot is the WHAT of a tale: what happens and to whom. A story is the HOW, the way the plot is related: in what sequence, with what stylistic devices.

There have been repeated claims that there’s only one story (Joseph Campbell’s idea of the Monomyth ) or seven (Christopher Brooker) or 31 (Vladimir Propp). Other thinkers suggest other numbers. In all cases, what they are talking about it plot, not story.

Even if there were only one plot, there might be a large (perhaps infinite) number of ways of telling it. Consider these examples of basic plots and their realisations:

Characters converge — usually in high school or university — and then diverge. But changed!
The Group, Mary McCarthy
The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer
Private Citizens, Tony Tulathimutte
A swindler is double-crossed, either out of vengeance or greed
The Grifters, Jim Thompson
The Mark Inside, Amy Reading
A character’s fall
Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf T
The protagonist is deceived until the scales fall from her eyes
The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Forbidden Love
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
A woman turns down proposals of convenience and settles on an unexpected Mr. Right
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Jane Eyre, Charlotte BronteBridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
More at https://www.vulture.com/2016/08/encyclopedia-of-every-literary-plot-ever.html  

So, while plots may not be original, stories can be. What devices turn a plot into an original story?

Originality – whatleydude
https://www.whatleydude.com/tag/originality/

  • The words. Evocative language can turn a pedestrian plot into a thing of beauty.
  • Characterisation. People are individual, and endlessly fascinating in the way they act and see the world.
  • The point of view. Relating The Three Little Pigs from the Wolf’s point of view creates a fresh story.
  • The point of telling. This is the location in the plot from which the author starts to tell the story. A tale told from the middle or the end can feel very different from one told in sequence.

In these senses, a story can be original. Indeed, it must be original. If a story doesn’t resonate and hum, give me a sense of something fresh, a new insight, a new way of seeing a familiar problem, why would I want to read it?

Friday Fictioneers – The Fence

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Now let’s see if I’ve got this straight. You’re saying this parcel of land is yours, and that I can’t hunt across it. Right? Everything within this little fence is yours alone? Does that also apply to the sky above? If a wind blows some of your air into my nose and I breathe in, do I owe you recompense?

Don’t you understand, the idea of owning the earth is as absurd as the idea of owning the air? Nobody can own the land or the beasts and plants on it. And that is why I tore down your fence.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – On the Ice

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

The plain is white. The mountains are white. With each step I take, the pale buildings fade into the background. Once, there were other things—fairgrounds and picnics, horse-rides and autumn walks down leaf-strewn paths. If I lose my past, I will lose myself. All those yesterdays that once buckled the land are smoothing.

I look back. Cracks are forming. And they snake out towards me on thinning ice. Perhaps the end will be dramatic, after all. Not a blind wandering in the beige wilderness, but a descent into fresh, clear water. Perhaps I will enjoy that.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Sticky Past

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

Do you remember? The goats strolling down the middle of the evacuated street, nibbling on garden hedges? And how we stood at our doors once a week, waving hesitantly to neighbours, and clapped the nurses and doctors? Do you remember what we learned about who we depended on and who was truly important?

Can we have forgotten so fast? Once, we knew what building back better might mean. But the past is sticky. It has oozed back to submerge the future we believed we once saw.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Make Money While You Sleep

PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M McIlroy

It took a while to get used to the headset. It bumped the pillow and woke me. But this was worth it to earn without effort. And gradually, I adapted to the equipment—even became comforted by the way it cradled me.

Networked with other sleeping brains, the company mines my dreams to solve problems I couldn’t begin to understand. Collectively, we manage topological transforms and matrix algebra.

And I have all the working day free to walk, and to garden, and to chat. Truly, this is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Isn’t it?

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

160.       The future isn’t what it used to be

I remember the future I was promised so long ago. There would be flying cars, and Dick Tracey watches that allowed you to communicate by speaking into your wrist. We got the Dick Tracey watches (cellphones), but not the flying cars or personal jet packs. Nor did we get colonies in space or universal plenty. But we got other stuff that nobody predicted.

We got a climate crisis and degradation of the environment: wildfires, floods, and famine. And a pandemic. And, so far from universal plenty, it seems we don’t have enough truck drivers to guarantee food delivery to the shops, or enough carers to look after the frail and elderly.

It would be easy to be scared. Apocalypse novels sell by the thousands. There’s a lot around that’s scarey. But perhaps there always has been. A generation ago, we were terrified by the threat of nuclear annihilation. And we survived. A generation before that, there was the World War to defend civilization. And a generation before that, the War to End All Wars. There was a pandemic in that generation too.

Yet, we survived. To survive now we need to be able to re-imagine a future we want to live in. Because crises don’t just go away by themselves—we have to want a change and work for it. A world without the vested interests of big oil and the snooping of big tech. Clean cheap energy. Food, shelter and a meaningful life for everyone. That seems worth working for, and it’s within our grasp. What would be the path towards that? Perhaps we need story-tellers to help us visualize that future.

Friday Fictioneers – Summer holiday

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The cry was plaintive and piercing, “There’s no Worcestershire sauce.”

Not this again, please no! “Darling, I explained already. They eat different food.”

The image of the frozen smile on the waiter’s face endured. When Sam had adopted the slow monotone he believed allowed foreigners to understand English and said, “No spaghetti. Fish-and-chips, comprenday?”

“Do it to be annoying, don’t they? Like pretending they don’t speak English. I mean, they have their word for bread, right? But how do they learn it without knowing ‘bread’ first? Eh, tell me that.”

He snapped his fingers. “Garçon!”

I sank into the shadows.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Friday Fictioneers – Funfair of youth

PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

Smoke curls lazy into the sky. It’s beautiful, almost. Burn, baby, burn. That’s a thing they used to say, the wrinklies, when they were young. Oh, they were fierce and zealous then. What happened to them?

A shrill cry. And the sound of something big splintering. We’ll get what’s ours at last. Now is the best time to be young. An old lady flaps her arms as she falls from a fourth floor window, like some crazy bird. No more wrinklies to occupy the best houses, luxuriate in their fat pensions, and scoff up all the vaccines. Enough. Now is our turn. Now is our world.

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Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here