Nobody cares about curated artwork, unless it’s picked from a gallery, signed fancy initials and bought to save taxes. Let’s care about lesser-knowns, find art on walls, or lying on pavements, or hung on subway stairwells. Metaphorically speaking, let’s turn to writing set at every day hangouts! Who would dwell on a drab hairdresser’s salon, except for our writers, like this story by Bart Van Goethem in Reflex Fiction and have your character say, “See, that’s why I love hairdressers: sooner or later they’ll tell you the truth.”
Friends, as promised in my last blogpost, I’m back with examples of flash fiction set in places nearer home — salons, schools, the local fair, clinics and the friendly neighborhood. You’ll see how these spots are spilling with drama and relatable narratives, and perhaps you’ll be inspired to look closer, at the details in the corners of your local library and parks that conceal great story-writing material.
Thinking of libraries, it’s amazing how the uncanny may take refuge within the most regular. I wrote one myself set in an all-girls’ school library that found publication in Reflex Fiction.
Check out Sam Payne’s story here, First Place Flash 500. Notice how the narrative weaves-in little observations from the neighborhood.
The idea is to notice the details, observe the strangeness in your common friendly community, and to write about them. Let the reader say, “Yeah! That’s where I’ve been”. “Oh, goodness, I go there often.” “Did that happen in our school playground? “
Here are some tips on what to do:
> Select a place you frequent, and when you visit it the next time, notice the details, Observing is more than half the job done.
>What is that one thing you absolutely can’t ignore about the place? Is it the strange salesgirl? Is it the quirky wall-art of the coffee house? Is it because the linen smells weird at the motel? Does your gas-station look like it is concealing a secret passage to Hell?
>It may work to write elaborately around what comes to mind first when you think of a particular place: children/pre-teens in a playground, shelves and trolleys at the shopping complex, curtains at the salon. Use them.
>Better still, interchange the props. Books on the last seat in a bus, hair brushes in a library. Think what it might lead to? Get interesting.
>Employ repetition to emphasize. Dual use: it will work because the narrator frequents a place, and also as a writing tool.
>If you happen to be employed at an interesting place, like a museum, an excavation site, a fortune-teller’s, that is a story everyone is waiting to hear!
Plots are for sale. Bid and buy them! Happy scouting for the right one!