A Straight Shooting Checklist
I’m afraid I missed out on submitting for the Writers Magazine 500 words last month but I liked the brief. It asked for a short story that included – something the characters, especially the protagonist hadn’t forseen, like someone falling out of a plane on top of you; a ticking clock that meant the protagonist had to do something or make up their mind by a deadline; a moral dilemma for the protagonist; and some complications that prevented them making the decision they would like. It’s a good checklist for a short story or an episode in a novel, even the whole novel. I like checklists because you know things won’t be missed when you’ve got them on the list. I don’t like formulas because they dampen imagination, whereas checklists force you to think of something different. I don’t really try to enter all the competitions I find of interest but I do have a go at getting a story together for them and it’s amazing how it generates story lines and I can always use an extra episode in a novel. Mind you there are enough in ordinary life, if you look. I met a lady on the bus who has a father 106 years old. He was in the anti-aircraft artillery in WW2, sent there because he couldn’t hit a barn door with a rifle. The artillery didn’t want him where he could shoot something Allied by mistake and sent him to Russia. He sounded a very nice man and a good father but there’s lots of room for comedy in that story.