Building off of a previous post, I wanted to make Fridays the day of the week that I share excerpts of writing that I’ve done in the past through writing prompts, random stream of consciousness, parts of larger works, or as part of my 100-200 daily word exercises.
The point being to attempt to examine what I’ve done for clarity sake and whether or not I can make sense of it….not only to those who read it but to myself as well.
For this week, I dug even further back and found an old writing prompt that I did as part of a book club that I’m a part of (another entirely different story altogether). It was one of the first ‘assignments’ we gave one another just to see how we all would approach this particular topic. It was a great way of seeing where each person’s creativity was and what direction it led to.
The prompt was the following: “Write a story about an unassuming antique store with a weird secret.” I will include two different portions:
“Emily felt at home amongst the tall shelves of long outdated books in the room. They crowded around her like friends coming closer to tell secrets. They had only been in this strange shop for five minutes and she could already tell that it wasn’t normal.
Scrolls lined the wall, next to strange heads she couldn’t tell were stuffed or fake. Menacing masks with cheap lamps and trinkets shared giant oak wood tables, the dust thicker than an angus beef patty served at her favorite local hamburger shop.
She turned to her parents who were poring over a map in the adjacent corner. They weren’t even saying anything. Just slowly studying the intricate graph paper that was probably older than them.”
My introduction to the story. I’ve always been a fan of tales that help you visualize the individual scene the character is currently in. In this, I wanted the reader to picture a crowded antique store with just enough space to fit between the rows; almost oppressive in everything’s proximity to one another. I wanted them to see the thick gathering of dust that had begun to settle on the oldest items that have now begun to be overlooked; and I wanted you to immediately feel like things were off about the entire predicament.
The problem here being that I still felt like I ‘told’ you rather than let Emily discover this for herself, her perspective being the entry point from where observations could be learned. Now of course, we made this prompt have a five page limit to it, but even within that confine, there’s always room for more refinement.
“Emily’s dad adjusted his glasses and looked back at the man, almost forgetting where he was. “It’s incredibly fascinating. The quality of paper puts it at…what? The third century?”
Emily’s parents were archaeologists. Always on the lookout for the next big thing. Little places along the road like this antique shop in nowhere USA was right up their alley. Even if they were on their way to a perfect vacation in sunny California.
While they discussed map paper and other things she didn’t care about, Emily turned and navigated the store, ending up near the counter where the register was. Lining it was candy she had never seen along with strange books she couldn’t read.
A scratching noise alerted her to the right near a dressing room.”
Following a conversation with the incredibly eccentric owner of the store, I do a bit of background to establish context for why Emily finds herself in this place at all. Her family has a penchant for putting value on the old and dated. Makes sense for why a place like this would catch their eye. So much so that they’re completely ignoring their daughter, leaving her to casually make her way around the cramped aisles, completely uninterested in all of the items around her.
In my head this was the cross between a typical American family traveling through a fly over state to get to California and academia (her parents both being clearly educated). I keep their specific location ambiguous in order to attempt to be mysterious about it, ending that portion with Emily noticing a very troubling sound near the even more cramped dressing room in the store; and although I don’t want to give away the entire tale, because there is quite a bit more, let’s say things get even more head scratching before I finish.
What’s funny about this particular piece as a whole, is that it actually seems a bit more structured and put together than some of the things I’m currently trying to make work, story-wise. Not sure if there is some type of deep Freudian meaning behind it, but nevertheless, I’m going to keep trucking.
Until next time.