Sunday, March 24, 2013

How to write a short story

The Guardian weekend colour supplement has a feature called Web Windows where a whole page is divided into many small ads, in contrast to the usual full page glossies for cars, phones and supermarkets.  I love the eclectic and often jarring nature of these little boxes, priced to be within the reach of many small businesses. The challenge is to link them together in a coherent and gripping theme, following the order strictly from left to right, and from top to bottom. What follows may not win any awards but it has a narrative strength and dramatic twists that must surely fascinate.

They met soon after he decluttered his room. He was an inveterate gambler who often bet on whether gold would go up or down but he always slept well on his foam memory mattress. It was at the International Camp Suisse that they fell in love but alas, almost at once there was trouble and a family law specialist was needed.  He had to put his holiday home in Cornwall up for sale, aided by his solar powered charger that kept him in touch wherever he was. And then - she came back. He bought her some contemporary jewellery and a 1940s style dress but she had begun hearing voices in her head. They had to get away, assisted by a euro denominated cashcard and soon they were cruising in the Baltic with an Abba tribute band to make it just perfect. Too perfect. On their return he crashed the car, requiring body repairs and worse, the Children's Air Ambulance had to be called out. They split and he looked for new romance with a professional singles dating agency. He hired a 4x4 to help him pull the birds, and he had his decluttered room redesigned with the help of an architect. Even his trusty pet had a makeover. At last she returned, after her brief stay at a girls boarding school in Devon. They celebrated with a USDA steak at a specialist restaurant and at last he bought her a zebra scarf as a sign that their love would never end.

It's got something don't you think? Let's hope it is not catching.

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