And If It’s Half Broke?

There’s an old saying that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Leave well enough alone.

But what if it’s only a little broke? Still works, sort of? There are folks who fix the leaky faucet before it becomes a flood under the sink. Fix that oil leak in the car before the motor seizes up. If you ask, “Why worry about it when the problem’s so small,” they’ll tell you, “Procrastination only leads to disaster.”

And there are those of us who tend to hobble along with things as they are, hoping for a miracle, until the thing breaks down totally and becomes a real nuisance. When the drain pipe is totally clogged and the sink overflows, it’s time for action. When the tire’s almost flat, it’s time to have the leak repaired. There are those who go to a doctor while the problem is still small, while others have a health issue they hope will resolve itself. When they can hardly drag themselves out of bed in the morning it’s time to see the doctor.

A friend of my folks, a prairie farmer of Scottish birth, was fearful about the odd bulge developing on his hip. He ignored it and carried on, half fearing that if he saw a doctor, he’d hear the dreaded C word. Finally it became so big that he did visit the doctor, who sent him straight to the hospital. “That bulge is an aneurysm! It could burst any moment and you’d be dead in minutes.”

Sadly, we procrastinators are apt do this with relationships too. It’s risky to ask exactly what he/she meant by that comment. They might tells us exactly what they think of our behaviour and their words will likely be painful. So we tell ourselves, “Just let it go.” Yet the comment digs into us and festers. Usually more verbal exchanges happen and finally we’re pussyfooting around each other. The times we brave it and talk the thing over, we find it was only one point they objected to, not our whole personality. Or we completely misunderstood their remark. I can recall times when I’ve said something just as a joke, thinking the other person would get it, only to find out later from a third party that they took my comment seriously and were quite upset with me.

Image: Robin Higgins — Pixabay

What led to my musing this morning is my issue with WordPress. WP isn’t working 100% for me, but it still functions well most of the time. At times, though, the program won’t recognize my e-mail address so I have to give my username and log in anew. Especially for some blogs, while others I can leave Likes and comments no problem. So I just carry on and hope the problem will disappear. Will it, do you think?

Developers with their many “improvements” have made life so complicated for us simple minds! Sometimes I gripe that if the engineers at WordPress didn’t fix things that were working just fine, blogging would be simpler. However, I realize they were trying to accommodate a wide range of bloggers with other interests than mine, so I’ll hush it. I’m still very grateful to have this platform where I can ramble to my heart’s content. 🙂

The Coming Storm – Part 1

In an earlier post I said my husband and I have been following a writing course given by best-selling author Jerry Jenkins. The last lesson I did covers how important the first sentence and the first paragraph are. No time for rambling here; that opening scene has to grab the reader. Even if the story doesn’t start out with a bang (on someone’s head, in some building or some universe) the reader must get a sense of a fascinating storm just ahead.

I’ve tried to do that in my response to this week’s Six Word Story prompt over at GirlieOnTheEdge’s blog, where the prompt word is BAND. I’m cheating on the prompt, though, since this isn’t a complete story. 🙂

BETTER NEVER LATE

Herb glanced out the window, checked his time again, then snapped the band of his watch in frustration.

“If she isn’t here in three minutes, I’m leaving,” he silently vowed. He had an important meeting with one of his shareholders and he dare not be late.

A moment later he heard a knock and rushed to open the door, snarling, “What…!”

“What am I doing here, you were going to ask,” Jonathan said, shoving his way inside. “Can’t you guess, Herb?”

Happy Canada Day!

I woke up early this morning — if 6:15 am is early? — let the cat out for his morning stroll, fed and watered the birds. Now I can drink my morning coffee and enjoy our national hodilay holiday.

There — typo corrected. It’s not that I can’t spell, but my fingers get ahead of my brain — or is it vise versa? — and I usually type morning as monring. Which makes me think of an amusing blip from the brain of my cell phone’s auto-correct. I’d told a friend that I’d bought a tin of Maxwell House (coffee) and sent it without checking. This should be an automatic No-No for me! I must have missed a space, so auto-correct thoughtfully changed it to My new tin O’Farrell House.

Not sure who O’Farrell is, or how he got his name programmed into the system, but SOMEDAY I will learn to CHECK every message before hitting SEND. 😉

Wishing my fellow Canadians a lovely holiday as we celebrate the beauty and diversity of our great country.

What’s A Short Story?

One writing site I follow recently held a contest: “Write a short story in 500 words or less.” As I read through the various submissions this morning, part of the problem for me was thinking a story is always fiction. However, this contest called for a non-fiction story. So I read brief memoirs, rambling musings about life, possible devotional articles, but few submissions that I’d consider a real STORY.

Am I off-base in my understanding of STORY? There are a number of weekly writing challenges I do participate in that call for writing a story in xxx words, so it’s good to get a handle on the concept, even if I didn’t enter this contest.

Image from Pixabay

According to GRAMMARLY’s website, “Short stories are a form of narrative writing that has all the same elements as novels—plot, character development, point of view, story structure, theme—but are delivered in fewer words. … A short story is a short, self-contained work of fiction…”

And I see the ubiquitously quoted “Baby shoes for sale, never worn.”

Writer L Ron Hubbard gives good pointers on how to critique a short story: You need to judge the originality, the scene-setting, characterization, conflict and plot, a theme. It should be engaging and deliver some emotional payoff.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is BRIDGE and I think it fits in today’s musing.

A short story should create a BRIDGE between a writer and a reader. Whether fiction or non-fiction, I need to reach out through my own – or my character’s – experience and touch your heart. It may be only a little chuckle, a small example of the human nature we all share, or a bit of sorrow.

Image by Josch13 — Pixabay

If I write about the time our family went to the zoo, saw the polar bears, watched the antics of the monkeys, had a great time, and came home, will that touch your heart?

If our beloved Jr disappeared at the zoo and we searched frantically to find him, that experience could easily be crafted into a story and would resonate with all parents. If I had to tell it in 100 words or less, that would take a lot of whittling! There wouldn’t be a lot of room to develop scene or theme, but it could be done.

Stories, especially short ones, need to start with a bang. No “Our family was at the zoo one sunny morning in mid-July. We were watching the polar bears splashing around in their pool when our I noticed that our son had disappeared in the crowd.”

Rather…
We watched the polar bears splashing so comically in their pool. I turned to lift my six-year-old so he could see more of their antics…and he’d disappeared!
“Frank,” I screamed over the noise of the other tourists, “Where’s Junior?”
Frank whirled around. “Junior! Where are you,” he shouted as we both scanned the crowd frantically.

Most readers would easily get the picture and feel some connection to this couple.

Anyway, enough of my musings. What do you see as the elements of an engaging short story? Do you like upbeat, happy endings? Or are you one who likes being left with a haunting melancholy when you’re done?

Lengthy Lines

Editorial Trivia

As you will know if you’ve been reading my recent posts, I started doing the weekly Six Sentence Story challenges. And it is indeed a challenge to get a tale stated tersely enough to fit into six sentences. However, I’ve just started reading a story published in 1907: The Red Thumb Mark. This is the first story in a collection called The Austen Freeman Mega-pack and it can be bought as a single story from Amazon Kindle.

Dr. Richard Austin Freeman, April 1862 – Sept 1943, was a British writer of detective stories, mostly featuring the medico-legal forensic investigator Dr. Thorndyke. In the story I’m reading, Dr Thorndyke is trying to prove how an innocent man’s bloody thumb-print turned up so conveniently at the scene of a theft.

I’ve run into some delightfully mega-layered sentences! If I’d adopt this writer’s style, I could easily get a story told in six sentences. I’ve also come across several words that, if I ever read them before, I’ve forgotten.

Exhibit A: Example of five multi-clause sentences:

“Why should you expect that?” I demanded, reddening somewhat, I suspect, as I met his twinkling eye. There was something rather disturbing in the dry, quizzical smile that I encountered and the reflection that I had been under observation, and I felt as much embarrassed as I should suppose a self-conscious water-flea might feel on finding itself on the illuminated stage of a binocular microscope.

“My dear fellow,” said Thorndyke, “you have not spoken a word for the last quarter of an hour; you have devoured your food with the relentless regularity of a sausage-machine, and you have, from time to time, made the most damnable faces at the coffee-pot — though there I’ll wager the coffee-pot was even with you, if I may judge by the presentment that it offers of my own countenance.

I roused myself from my reverie with a laugh at Thorndyke’s quaint conceit and a glance at the grotesquely distorted reflection of my face in the polished silver. “I am afraid I have been a rather dull companion this morning,” I admitted apologetically.

Intriguing words:
She said oracularly.
Oracularly means resembling an oracle. An oracle, definition 2, is a person giving wise or authoritative decisions or opinions.
I wondered what he thought of this rodomontade? A bragging speech; vain bluster or boasting.