Burn through your plot

Ben, who had grown up in foster care without any idea who his real parents were, or even if they were still alive, woke up early and had toast for breakfast. He had got dressed and was just about to leave for his job in the registry office, where he helped to bring order and certainty to other people’s births, marriages and deaths, thus fulfilling an unacknowledged psychological need on his part, when he heard the letterbox rattle.
When he had read the letter, which contained the name and address of a woman who the investigating agency had deduced might be his birth mother, he went to the train station instead of going to work and set out on a journey to find this woman. As he travelled, he met various people and encountered various situations which made him remember details of his early life. It was poignant.
Finally, he arrived at the address and met the woman named in the letter and they talked at some length before it became clear that she couldn’t be his mother after all. It’s possible that he would never find what he was looking for but maybe, after all these years, the search itself was more important than the answers he might one day find.


  1. "it was poignant"

    Wow, I feel utterly and profoundly moved.

  2. "Then someone turned his story into a book and you are reading it right now".

  3. Sadly... I tend to write like that. :P

  4. No reason that has to be the end of the plot. We could take it anywhere from there. A mere "And Then" solves everything.

    And then he was abducted by the CIA.

    And then he became a redneck.

    And then he went back to work, discovered he wasn't searching, just stuck in a soul-sucking subculture.

    And then they had sex.

    But let us not devolve into autobiography. - I merely say it to illustrate that this, I think, would be a very interesting beginning to the book. Highly preferred to the other alternative -

    "Ben woke up on June 31th, 1999, with a splitting headache. He had the splitting headache because he had poisoned himself to sleep once again, in sorrow over the mother he never knew. The smell of burnt coffee (had he left it on all night?) from the kitchen brought back to his mind his earlier life, more sharp and distinct than it ever was, when he lived it. The memory was of a strange texture - more distinct than the world he knew hovered somewhere beyond him. Consciousness of his body slipped away, and he entered the sharp world of his memories..."

    From which we embark on a journey into his memories, and then slowly through his life, in a style I cannot fully represent here, but in which, suffice it to say, everyone knows where we are going, and how we will get there, except, it seems, the protagonist.

    Even as the author I was only able to rescue myself from boredom through leaving myself a clever out:

    "He finally left his house, already late for work. When he left his house, whatever rush he was in, he could not help seeing the people looking up at the sky. Following their sight-lines he saw that the stars were still out, though it was day. He stopped another man on the street.

    "What's going on?"
    "It's still dark out."
    "Yea, that's what I mean."
    "It's still dark out." Perhaps he hadn't chosen the brightest bulb in this suddenly dark land.
    "And it's 8:45."
    "June 31st."
    "What about it?"
    "It's June 31st."
    "Yes, and at 8:45 in the morning, on June 31st, it should be light out."
    "No... there never has been a June 31st before. June only has thirty days."
    Ben looked at his watch. It did indeed tell him. June 31st.

  5. Trying to hard to be late-career Jorge Luis Borges? Although you forgot the poignant knife fight Ben remembered near the end of paragraph 2.

  6. Hilarious as usual!

    Hey, I left you a blog award on my blog ... enjoy!

  7. Thanks Cynthia! Also, Wallis, that may the hardest anyone has thought about any of these blog posts. I don't know whether to congratulate you or be worried.

  8. you just saved me a lot of reading since you just broke down every novel ever published since 1968. add a few recipes and change the mode of transport to a motorcycle or boat and we are done with the second half of the 20th century. "summer reading club," I just kicked your ass!

  9. Just found this blog. This is hilarious!

  10. It *was* poignant. And yet I'm strangely unmoved.

  11. This is pretty much what I do in my pre-drafts, with all the plot points in Parenthesis.

    By the way, You should come down to the south. People would LOVE to say your last name. My surname's very similar, and always fail at pronouncing it correctly.

  12. But I do live in the south, and people pronounce my surname just f...

    Oh, wait. The south of *America*. Yeah, I imagine there aren't many Stickleys around there.

  13. Hold on, how do you pronounce your last name, then? Is it something other than "Stick'-lee"? I don't want to be embarrassed at WriteBadlyWellCon next year.

  14. It. Was. /Poignant/.