The prompt for next week’s writing group meeting comes from a photo, not a line. It’s a photo of a photographer with a professional camera up to his eye. In the sepia-toned photo, he wears a hat. He could be a private detective trying to get proof of wrong-doing. I was thinking about him as I drove home from the Nebraska Writers Guild conference last weekend.
I stopped in a rest area, annoyed at the driver who blocked most of the parking spaces in front of the building with his pickup and horse trailer. I parked where I could find a space and entered the structure. I noticed an old guy with his face nearly touching the Nebraska map on the wall. I asked if I could help him and he said he wanted to get onto U.S. 54. Coincidentally, I used to drive a semi-tractor/trailer cross-country and knew a bit about how to get from one place to another. We discussed routes to get him where he wanted to go and I got my trucker’s book of maps from the car to show him.
As I left the building, I saw the guy I’d been talking to getting into the offending pickup. An old white guy with a bald spot on the crown of his head, he got into an old white pickup pulling an old white trailer with a bunch of bales racked on the top. On the back of that picturesque rig I saw a number of bumper stickers that led me to believe he might be a conspiracy theorist. He pulled out ahead of me and I followed.
I had the writing prompt in mind as I drove down interstate 80 and I started to wonder how I could put that photographer together with the horse hauler to make a short story. We have about five minutes in our meetings to read our stories. So how could I put the guy and his long trip together with another old guy with a camera to make a five-minute story?
More Story Elements
I wondered how my meeting with the horse-hauler could lead him to believe he’s the victim of a conspiracy. What could I have done that he might misunderstand–frightening him into believing the photographer and I conspired against him? I am a woman who drives a Prius–not a car anyone would choose to engage in a high-speed chase, but what if he looked into his side mirrors and noticed my car behind him? What if we were going at about the same speed? What if he stopped at a truck stop and the photographer thinks he and his rig are picturesque enough to get some photos?
What about you? Does this give you the start of a story? How about sharing the outline of your idea? I’ll be reading mine at the next writer’s group meeting.