Thursday, February 28, 2013

The List

T-Rex Alert!

I was at the market the other day when a man stopped me near the frozen foods.

“Is that a list?” he asked.

When I informed him that indeed it was, he shook his head. “I didn't think anyone wrote lists anymore,” he muttered as he moved on to Dairy.

I must admit that I was a little stunned.

Somehow I had become the planet’s last triceratops.

Of course, I wanted to justify my scribbles. “Hey, Mister!” I wanted to call after him. “This is why I have to use paper!” then whip out my flip phone with the IQ of 4. But, alas, that would have only made things worse.

And then I got to thinking…

A world without lists is a sad, sad world for writers.

Okay, maybe it’s a little odd, but I love discovering a page of someone’s discarded grocery needs. It’s amazing how a just a few words can help me build a character or set a scene.

“Ah, someone’s having a birthday,” I’ll say. Or “Oh look, 3 gallons of ice cream, bacon, chips, and… diet soda – haven’t we all been there?

Even my non-writing friends can sense the treasure buried within a list. One once gave me an expense register that he’d found at an estate sale. It was a simple tablet from the 1940’s with each one of a young woman’s purchases meticulously recorded. It was pretty obvious that she had a tight budget, and yet…

Every so often she would shell out $25 (a fortune!) for voice lessons.

Now, that’s a character who’s begging for a story.

PROMPT: Create a list for one of your characters, or a character from some kind of list (at last, Facebook Timelines have a purpose!). If those options don’t grab you, you can always write of the sad plight of flip phone-wielding dinosaurs lost in the frozen foods. 

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