Thursday, October 16, 2008

Writing Fiction

My blogging has become thin these days due to the short story workshop I am participating in with the Monadnock Writers’ Group. As a result, today I am moving away from the bike to show you what I have been up to. One of our members, Lucy Suitor Holt is taking us on a workshop odyssey this season. In each month’s correspondence, we receive our next lesson. Lucy is a short story published author with two degrees from Rivier College. She has held workshops with the emphasis on creating and writing short stories. What a great opportunity to learn and grow one’s skills!

I am not a fiction writer by any stretch of the imagination, so this is a challenge for me. In our first assignment we were to find two names randomly in the phone book by just opening and pointing blindly. For the rest of that month we were to “watch” our characters from a distance. That was the “who” of our story. This month, we are concentrating on the “what” that is driving our characters. I have names, and I see “who” they are with certainty. “What” is driving them is still up for debate in my mind, and is a challenge. I have an idea for the closing paragraph. How I get there is another matter.

With that said, let me introduce my characters to you. My intension, by placing them here for all of us to “watch”, is that it might lead me in the direction I need to fabricate the “what” that drives their motivations. Please let me introduce Mike Brennan and Jacqueline A Chasse.

Mike Brennan is a man of average height, fit, in his mid-forties. He works out regularly to maintain his physique he tells people, but it is really to keep old age at bay. Mike is an open book. He is also able to talk with anyone about anything. He is well read, articulate and handsome. This last he has little awareness of, and it often leads to trouble. Because of his friendly and welcoming nature, he misses cues that could have led to many a romantic encounter. The trouble comes when engaged in conversation with pretty women, usually initiated by them, leading to confrontations with their partners. Mike is a software developer with a specialty in reverse engineering. Mike has been on assignment at a client site to identify flaws in the company’s software that would lead to security breaches. This is where he meets Jacqueline. Jacqueline has been assigned to help Mike in his work and give him access to files he needs and to heavily monitor his activities.

Jacqueline A Chasse is a hard nut to crack. You only see about her what she is willing to show. On the other hand, she has a way of reading people that is intuitive, and often correctly identifies their motivations. In true Dale Carnegie style, she can get anybody to do anything by simply appealing to their sense of importance or to their fear of future pain. Jacqueline exposes only that which she would allow people to see. Her office as her home reveals nothing of who she really is. The colors are neutral, the furniture plain and functional, the wall hangings minimal and reflecting the geographic area where she lives, with depictions of wooded lanes, and sun dappled ponds. There is nothing personal here. No photos, knickknacks, nothing to give anyone a sense of what she is all about.

I hope you will “watch” me as I “watch” what Mike and Jacqueline get caught up in. Feel free to offer advice, suggestions, and insight. As I mentioned, fabricating stories is not my strength. Your commentary may help trigger and idea or two. I hope you will join me on this journey.

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