Oops! No Contest Entries–Things To Resent

Hi my reading and writing friends,

Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks

Now’s your chance–write!

I had hoped to bring you some great creative writing from our community today, but I guess people didn’t have time to write a short story that had two characters in it with the theme of “resentment.” This closes our writing contest of a story on resentment.

That’s okay.  We’ll just play with the pre-writing of such a story today.


When I get a theme for story, I love to start with–you guessed it–a brainstorm.  So, just as Story Engineering suggests, I’ll brainstorm a list of things I resent:

  • It’s not fair that I care for my pets the best I can and they still have accidents, and health issues. And then the vet can say “pay for all these tests, but there’s no guarantee of a diagnosis.” What if a vet took their kid to a doctor and got the same line?
  • It’s not fair that just as I’m starting to grow up a little, I look in the mirror and see an old woman with more wrinkles than a pile of clothes forgotten in the laundry machine.  What if you could put yourself through the wash and come out like one of the no-iron materials–all fresh and new every seven years or so?  What would that “washing machine” look like? How would it feel to be wash & dried?
  • I resent corporations that make bottom line profits more important than product safety.  What if corporations could be put on trial for such things as murder or negligence (okay, so technically, now that the Supreme Court has given corporations human status, I suppose they could). Who would be a jury of their peers?  If the federal government arrested, say, Wyeth Laboratories, would the pharmaceutical world come to a standstill as Lederle, Johnson & Johnson, and ten other corporations get called in for jury duty?  I like this idea.  Just makes me giggle.
  • It’s really not fair that artists don’t get paid well, just because they work in fields everyone dabbles in for hobbies.  Think of it.  Writers, painters, musicians, actors, comedians, dancers and more are important to the meaning of our lives.  Yet they still have to have “real” jobs to pay the bills. What if football had to be viewed live because no television crew was there to produce the game? What if all the boxes on grocery store shelves were printed with black words on a white box, because no graphic artists and ad copy people could afford to work in their chosen fields?  This sounds like a future-focused sci-fi to me.

The next step in this process would be to choose one of the ideas above, and give it a little “character.” I may personally resent the things above, but my protagonist doesn’t need to be me.  I love the idea of a jury of corporate peers, so let’s play with that:

Character One:

CEO Bradley Common (yes I let a name pop into my head for this) is mad.  Why? Because he has 5,426 unread emails in his in-box, twelve management meetings, 2 take-over bids to exercise and now, he’s been called in for jury duty.  Brad’s corporate lawyer can’t get him out of this because a new law says you must follow the spirit of the “request” for jury duty and actually show up.  Now Brad hates Sunco Corp, who’s on trial–not for the crime of accidentally giving thousands of people skin cancer with their failed sunblock, but for wasting Brad’s valuable time. Brad needs an exit strategy, like yesterday.

Character Two:

District Attorney Laura Steele is fed up  with these prima-donna executives.  She’s going to throw the book at Sunco and make them an example.  US made products must have higher standards than in recent years.  Besides, she’s been using Sunco skin care products for years, and now she’s noticing misshapen moles on her skin.  She looks over the man in front of her, making his excuses to the judge. Hmm. Bradley Common. What a jerk.  He’s head of Jargon Pharmaceuticals, one of the biggest chemical companies in the world, and it’s rumored, between the questionable cosmetic products and the seven divorces,  this guy is a real lady-killer.

Now, You Take Over

I’ve played with themes and characters with you this morning.  To be honest, this has been an off-the-cuff writing session, so I’m sure that you can find lots of problems with the writing.  But still, try playing with this.  Who will be your protagonist, Bradley or Laura?  Why?  What MUST they do in order to WHAT (achieve their goal), and how will they GROW as a result of this journey?

Decide whether this will be a thriller, a comedy, or even a romance. Maybe you’ll stay in the notion of a future-focused sci-fi.  Be creative and have fun.  No contest this time. Just our thanks to Larry Brooks for his terrific book, and maybe you’ll write a story that a fiction magazine will publish.  Good luck.

New Blog Category — Literacy

GallyCat's Illiteracy in America: INFOGRAPHIC

Thank you to GallyCat https://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/illiteracy-in-america-infographic_b51032 for this important infographic

A few days ago I was playing around in YouTube and stumbled across a fun and funny video called “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama.” While Zach and the president were discussing affordable health care for young adults, one incident drew my attention.  President Obama referred to young adults as thinking they were “invincible.”  Zach played on that by interpreting the president as saying “invisible.” In a nutshell, these two professionals managed to squeeze two enormous issues into just a couple of sentences:  health care for the young and uninsured, and an issue of illiteracy that may be larger than we think.

I know very little about the Affordable Health Care act. It’s not my area of focus or expertise.  But I think that as a writer, the issue of illiteracy ought to be a concern for me.  Heck, if people don’t read or comprehend what they read, this hits me in a very direct way.  That’s a shrinking “target market.”  As an old marketing person, I understand the importance of expanding a target, not shrinking it. So the questions started:

  • Is there an illiteracy problem in our country?
  • What are the many facets of illiteracy?
  • Why should we care if people don’t read?
  • Is reading a quaint past time that could easily be replaced with movies, videos and other forms of communication? Is it “out of date?”

To be honest, I’ve done a little reading on the subject over the past few months.  I haven’t “fact checked” thoroughly, but here are some things that have surfaced for me:

  • 82% of the adults in this country read one book or less a year for entertainment
  • 19% of the adults who watch a television show will miss between a quarter and a third of the program’s message because they don’t understand it.
  • 20% of high school graduates can be classified as being functionally illiterate.

Ouch! For those of us who do read, try to grow our comprehension, try to think through the issues of our day with the information we get through reading, journaling and other forms of written communication, these figures must be cause for concern.

This is why I’m adding a new category to my blog posts–Literacy.  Over the next months, I want to explore this topic in greater detail.  But most importantly, if you and I discuss this and conclude that literacy is a “problem,” we may be able to brainstorm about how we can help. As my sister says, “Think global, act local.”

I know everyone has schedules that are crammed full of today’s pressing issues for her or him, so I’m not asking you to take action and “solve” this thing, but if you can join me in finding out more about the topic of literacy, perhaps we can come up with ways to address the issue in our own communities.

A few months ago, I read a book of short mysteries by a group of famous writers led by Mary Higgins Clark.  The Plot Thickens is a super fun read.  Each story had the requirement that it contained these three elements:

  • A Thick steak
  • A thick fog
  • A thick book

I enjoyed every moment of reading these stories, and am looking forward to buying this for my permanent collection, because not only were these terrific stories to read, but the proceeds from sales of the book go to helping Americans with literacy problems. How cool is that?

Wishing your week is filled with fun reading and great comprehension.