Who, what, when, where, why, and how…I remember learning early on that one of the tenets of storytelling is answering these questions. Not all in a row or anything, but that a strong story will have all facets.
Oddly enough, I never took much to fiction writing (especially strange when you consider how much I enjoy a good novel) so this lesson might seem to be lost on me, but I’ve found it extrapolates to much in life. If you don’t have most or all of this information then you’re kind of flying blind on your decisions.
And then the kids came along. Holy cow, these questions took on a whole new level of importance.
You enter a room to find the floor littered with shoes, pillows in disarray, a shredded envelope on the floor, and a glass of old milk on the table.
** Who needs to come get their shoes? What was in the mangled envelope? When did this happen? Where are the dogs right now? Why didn’t I hear any of this going down? How on earth did that glass of milk manage to stay undisturbed among this mess?
A crash comes from the kitchen and you enter to find eggs scattered across the counter, Gracie snarfing what she can off a plate on the floor, two kids screaming at her from the other side of the room, Phoebe hiding under the table, and a can of Pam slowly rolling across the counter.
** Whose breakfast is being devoured by the dog? What were the kids thinking, leaving food unattended with Gracie in the house? When is this freaking dog gonna stop stealing everything? Where is BrightSide in the mornings, anyway? Why can’t I pee in peace for one lousy minute without breakfast going to hell? How am I going to wrestle an 85 pound dog away from those tasty eggs?
We’re having a (much deserved) lazy afternoon – two dogs and one mama napping before diving into the after school schedule – when someone hits the silent alarm. One dog jerks upright, turning to the door and letting out a bark a half second earlier than her sister. Phoebe charges around the couch to the door, hair on end, barking like Cujo on a feeding frenzy. Gracie throws her considerable heft over the back of the couch and slams into the door beside Phoebe, adding her rowdy bark to the noise.
** Who triggered the primordial instinct in these creatures to attack the door? What could possibly be worth all this drama? When will they learn that the occasional truck drives down our street and is not an actual threat to us? Where will I take this couch to get it repaired when Gracie finally rips through the leather hurtling over it? Why do they insist on doing this five times a day? How have they not gone crashing through the window yet?
Interestingly, despite the fact that “how” is one of the things I ponder most, I’ve found it’s often the question I have to let go since it’s the one I’ll never get answered.
- How did we get that giant black spot on the ceiling?
- How did I manage to save the toast and bacon but lose the eggs to Gracie?
- How do folks at the 8:00am basketball game manage to have their hair and makeup done?
- How am I supposed to dress when it’s 50 something when we wake up, 70 something in the afternoon, and my internal body temperature fluctuates between ice cube and inferno?
Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays are open to anyone who’d like to participate. Pop over and give her blog a visit. This week’s prompt is “how.”