This week I am going to revisit my attempt last week. After re-reading it I felt like there was a better way to convey the story that I was trying to tell, so I am going to have another crack at it.
As a reminder the theme I got last week was:
A bus stop is the location, fear is the theme. A necklace is an object that plays a part in the story.
I’m going to try something a bit different this week, I’m going to write the story as two separate flash fictions. The first is very close to what I wrote last week:
Sophie cursed as the bus pulled out from the stop moments before she reached it. She skidded to a halt, panting and out of breath. She made a mental note to go to the gym more often. She ducked into the bus shelter to escape the rain. It would be at least 30 minutes until the next bus. She cursed again and jumped when a voice unexpectedly responded, “That’s not polite for a lady.”
Sophie wheeled to find a scruffy young man leaning in the entrance to the bus shelter. Something in his eyes made her instantly nervous. He stepped towards her confidently, “You know it’s not safe for a young woman to be out so late by herself.”
She thought fast, “I’m waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up.”
“Funny I could have sworn I just saw you running for that bus.” He moved towards her until he was inches away. Sophie felt her muscles tense. She couldn’t run, he was blocking the only exit. She reached into her purse, her pulse racing. His eyes ran up and down her body and stopped at her chest. He said, “What a lovely necklace. Is that a real diamond?” He put his hand in his pocket, reaching for something. Sophie panicked and pulled the can of mace out of her purse. It was so old she had no idea if it would still work. She unleashed the contents into her muggers face. Thankfully he fell down clutching his eyes so she took her chance to make a dash for it, screaming for help.
So far so good, but what I realised when I re-read last weeks attempt was that the ‘twist’ at the end only conveyed a tiny amount of the other side of the story. One of my favorite things about writing is that you can convey your characters thoughts of feelings and play with the fact that everyone can have a wildly different perspective of the exact same events. There’s a lot of humour, humanity and conflict you can create, simply by making your characters feel differently about what is currently happening. Take Daniels perspective on the situation above:
Daniel saw the attractive woman running for a bus. She just missed it. This was it, the final woman that could reject his advances tonight. Simon had promised the pickup techniques would change his luck, but tonight had been awful. He had even dressed more rugged, but he felt like a kid playing dress-up pretending to be something he wasn’t.
Look confident was another tip. Daniel practiced for hours in the mirror, trying to hide his fear. He put on his brave face and strutted forwards. She cursed loudly. He said, “That’s not polite for a lady.” He immediately regretted it, he sounded like his Father chastising his little sister. Not the image he was going for. He wanted to be her hero, to save her from the dangers lurking in the night. He tried again, “You know it’s not safe for a young woman to be out so late by herself.”
She said, “I’m waiting for my boyfriend to pick me up.”
Was she just playing hard to get? He called her bluff, “Funny I could have sworn I just saw you running for that bus.” He took a step closer so she could smell his expensive new aftershave. His eyes were drawn to her breasts. He caught himself staring and tried to recover, “What a lovely necklace. Is that a real diamond?” His hands started shaking with nerves so he stuffed them in his pockets. She reached into her purse. Was she getting her phone to take his phone number? Nope, suddenly his face was on fire. He fell to the floor and she ran away screaming. Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse! This was the final straw, he pulled out his phone and called Simon to give him a piece of his mind.
Its always good to go back and re-read what you’ve written and see if there’s any opportunity you have missed to make the story more interesting. Sometimes you need to tell the first story before you can find the second or third!