Real Time Short Stories

The minutes that break down into years

Posted on: June 7, 2011

It’s time to find stories. As discussed here, the process through which a story is found can be a gradual evolution. We can talk in terms more familiar within the poetics of the food and drink industry: slow cooking, filtration, distillation. Yet there is a far more straightforward dynamic every writer should recognise, that comes about when witnessing a scene or living through an experience and hearing the mantra: “There’s a story in this.”

Below is an example of the sort of image that may set me thinking about a potential story – can you isolate a moment or image that might do the same for you? Comments welcome.

The awkward intimacy in a one-two between two adult men having a kickabout with a small child. The inter-generational passing triangle at its highest narrative potential would feature a grandfather, a father and a young son. The boy kicks to one and receives from the other. In order to fulfill his role, one of the men must pass to the other. It’s redundant as a tool for developing motor functions and the weight and placement of each pass has no bearing on how either men imagines his life will turn out, whereas the boy’s ability to stroll around, unleashing pinpoint 10-yard balls to feet or controlling wild, bobbling passes from team-mates, has him aspiring to nothing less than a Champion’s League medal for Barcelona. When the focus is on the child, the men are able to maintain a jovial participation. When he becomes preoccupied in something else, though, the guiderails disappear and the grown-up son and father are left knocking the ball back and forth to each other until the triangle can be restoreed. Did they ever do this when the younger man was his son’s age? Is this a reminder of a relationship they always enjoyed or that they never had? Without the decoys of mothers, wives and children, is this clumsy back-and-forth the only communication they are able to have these days? As the minutes break down into years, a writer will start to ask these questions and begin to find a story in the answers.

Further thoughts on this isolated moment in Cafe Short 2: Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

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1 Response to "The minutes that break down into years"

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