I’m sure you will have come across someone who has bad luck follow them? If something disastrous is going to happen today, that person will be there.
They’ll be the one in the car crash, or witnessing an awful accident. They’ll be the one who gets robbed, their dog gets run over, and their roof springs a leak – perhaps all in the one day. Novice hairdresser’s first cut? Check. Parcel lost in the post? Check. Double booked holiday villa? Check.
Then there’s the other extreme, the lucky person who always gets a prize in the raffle, who finds 50 percent off bargains in their size, who drives past the mountain seconds before a landslide and misses it. That’s the one who, to coin a phrase, falls down a sewer and comes up smelling of roses!
Let’s pick up this idea for this week’s creative writing prompt/exercise.
Find a way for these two characters to meet, Lucky Jim and Desperate Dan. What happens when the paths of these two people cross? How do they respond to each other? What happens? What has happened? This is for you to write a short story. Try up to 3,000 words this time, which gives you plenty of scope to develop an interesting scenario.
Don’t forget the old mantra of who, why, where, what, when and how? And try to have some of the action explained through dialogue – the characters talking to each other can move the story quickly along without the writer (you!) having to labour over hefty descriptions.
Of course, most people aren’t stuck in the extremes of good or bad fortune – they muddle along with bits of both – but for the purposes of storytelling, we need these two lucky/unlucky types to get together.
Off you go – get writing!
Remember, the first draft is unlikely to be the one good enough to send out, you need to work on it. And as I’ve said before, try reading it aloud to highlight clunky or unnecessary language. Then, when you’re happy with your output, try sending it off to a literary journal for publication.
You shouldn’t have to pay to submit to a magazine, and if you are successful you may get paid – or at least receive a contributor’s copy. You’re doing this for the prestige, to build up a track record of publication. Most literary journals run on a shoestring, so we’ll let them off using your lovingly crafted words for their financial gain because they might only be breaking even. That’s a discussion for another day. But please don’t submit to magazines full of advertising (that’s income for them) and with a cover price (more revenue) and a presence at the corner shop/newsagent. They’re just exploiting you if you give them your work for free.