Tag Archives: Fiction

Fact is Stranger Than Fiction

wpid-20130802_214311.jpgFor my birthday, two of my friends bought me a ticket to see Les Miserables with them at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, MN. I have some of the greatest friends imaginable, I know. Every time we go to a play together we eat beforehand at Rock Bottom Brewery a block away from the theater. Right before we were to leave I decided I better go to the restroom to avoid the line at the theater. I told my table of friends I would be right back and walked away. Apparently everyone had the same idea as I did because there were about four women in line when I opened the door to the restroom. So there I stood, at the beginning of the strangest five minutes I’ve encountered in a long time.

The bathroom door was flung open and two more women push their way into a small space. One was the manager and the other was a woman who was about to get sick. The manager scrambles to pull the lid off the garbage can because the five stalls are full. The sick woman is on her knees with her head in the garbage when the manager looks at us in line and asks if it would be okay if she goes into the next stall that opens up. We all say yes and she leaves to get a glass of water. The sick woman moves into a stall and after a couple of seconds she says, “I just want you all to know that I have food poisoning and that I’m not drunk. We had brats for lunch and my kids are sick at home and the doctor said it’s food poisoning. I felt fine earlier but it just hit me.” As women, most of us sympathize with her, some said they hoped she felt better. A stall finally opens up for me to go into and the sick woman answers her cell phone and proceeds to tell someone she is getting sick and she had to hand her camera to a blogger to finish taking pictures for her. She had finished interviewing Sheryl Crow and suddenly felt sick and ran out.

English: Sheryl Crow - Red Dress Collection (H...

English: Sheryl Crow – Red Dress Collection (Heart Truth) – 2005 Français : Sheryl Crow – Red Dress Collection (Heart Truth) – 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, by this point I’m wondering who this woman is and what she does for a living. I’m pretty impressed she had the opportunity to meet and interview Sheryl Crow and now I really feel bad for her that she is missing this great opportunity that she was lucky to have.

Oh, it gets better!

I am standing at the sink washing my hands and two more women come flying into the bathroom. One of them pulls a black, strapless bra out of her purse and hands it to her friend who promptly drops the top of her dress right in front of the door and puts the bra on. I can’t believe what I am seeing but really it shouldn’t have surprised me; I’m in downtown Minneapolis on a Friday night.  I turn around to dry my hands and beeline it past them to the door.

I clear the door to discover a man collapsing onto the floor with a waitress yelling for someone to call 911. Several people are already helping him so in a daze I head back to my table of friends. I get back and tell my friends about the craziest five-minute trip to the bathroom and as I’m finishing my friend nods and says, “There’s the ambulance.” I turned around and sure enough, in the time it took me to walk from the restroom to my table (about 15 seconds) the ambulance was already there.

This is quite possibly the craziest five-minute trip to the bathroom I’ve ever had!

This, my writing friends, is what good books are made of. I couldn’t have made this experience up if I had wanted to and made it sound believable. I could take this experience and write a story from my perspective, the sick woman’s, the two strapless bra women, the man collapsing in the hall, and the waitress.

Once again, story starters are all around us if we are actively aware of our surroundings.

The play was wonderful and there were no more strange occurrences.

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Random Story Starters

Minnesota is still frozen with yet another layer of snow and more is coming tomorrow. I’m convinced Spring is skipping us and we are going to go right into Summer. Hopefully, maybe? My husband and I took our dog to the dog park today and let him run and play in the snow. On our way home we stopped for lunch at Five Guys (I’m telling you all this for a reason so hang in there my point is coming).  While I was chatting and eating I noticed a woman come in with what appeared to be her husband and teenage daughter. This woman was dressed trendy with jeans that were frayed all the way down both legs. The teenager was wearing black yoga pants and Uggs and the man had jeans and a flannel shirt on. My first thought was the woman was trying to hard to be young by wearing jeans that a teenager should be wearing and then I had an epiphany and an urge to write. I have no idea who this woman is or what her real-life story is, but boy in seconds I could write you the story I had developed around her from what I had observed. If you are looking for something to get you writing find yourself a fast food restaurant or a coffee shop to sit in and observe the random people who come and go. Pick a person you see and describe them, give them a personality and create a story around this person. Please remember coffee shop etiquette and order something once an hour for taking up space and using their internet. It’s amazing where this can take you when you are least expecting it and it’s quite fun to do.

I climbed down onto and into these rocks and let my feet dangle not far over the water at Artist's Point.

I climbed down on and into these rocks and let my feet dangle not far over the water at Artist’s Point.

If you need practice writing descriptive scenery you could take this idea outside and sit by a lake, in a park, or on a walking trail and develop a story with this as a setting. Grand Marais, Minnesota has a great park called Artist’s Point. You can walk on the rocks on the shore of Lake Superior and find a nook in a rock or in among the trees and write, it is so peaceful. Remembering this makes me want to go up there again and sit in the peace.

Malls are another fun place to observe people and write short stories. At the Mall of America they have couches, chairs, and benches all over that a person can sit down, relax, and observe people walking by. Tourists trying to navigate the mall can be a sight sometimes and it makes a good story. Go, pull up a couch, and sit and write for a bit, no one will mind.

These ideas are simple and everyone knows them, but we forget how easy it is to write. I thought I would remind you all today that you can write anywhere you want to. Just go write!

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