Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone who celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday today is having a great one. In lieu of a regular post, I thought I'd share the fruits of a little writing exercise I did last week at a brown bag lunch workshop at Boston's Grub Street, a local writing studio and workshop space. We were told to write a brief sketch about a Thanksgiving dinner at which there was an unexpected guest.

I can't believe she brought him, Alice thought. What was she thinking? Is there even room?

Earlene came in through the front door all smiles, Robert close behind, almost right over her shoulder, a sheepish grin on his doughy face.

"Hell-o Alice!" Earlene bellowed.

Oh my God, Alice thought, Oh my God. Earlene hugged her, lifted her off the ground. "So good to see you, little sis!"

Alice pried herself away. "Hi Earlie," she said, "hi Rob."

"Hi Allie," Rob said.

"Alice, Rob, it's Alice," Alice said. She stood back. Robert edged his way past the women, hung up his coat and stood behind Earlene. Earlene put her arm around his shoulders.

"Oh I forgot you two knew each other!" Earlene laughed.

No you didn't, Alice thought.

Earlene ruffled his curly blond hair. "How long has it been Al? Since you two saw each other?"

Not long enough, Alice thought. "Two years."

"Well I guess we'll have a nice little reunion then!" Earlene looked at Rob, who was blushing.

"You can hang your coat over by Rob's, Earlie" Alice said. "Dinner's in an hour. You can help yourself to hors d'oeuvres. I'm going to get something to drink. You want anything?" Alice turned her back and headed toward the kitchen.

I was thinking of expanding this into a short story at some point- where do you think it should go from here?


Anonymous said...

Ooh, I like it. I think you need it to go someplace unexpected. Like, right now the reader assumes that there's some romantic history. But that seems just a little bit too pat. Maybe string the reader along like that for a while, and then veer to another explanation.

Like, she was his boss, who had to fire him because he did something illegal, but also promised not to tell anyone (it would have made her look bad too?)

Telling it from Alice's point of view, like you've done, also leads the reader to assume that she's the good guy in this. Maybe you can make her the bad guy, in a way that the reader only figures it out towards the end. Like, she did something morally reprehensible (cheated on her very nice husband with someone Rob knows, and he's torn about whether to tell).

Or you could make them both nasty pieces of work trying to play it straight for the sake of their loved ones, but under so much stress that they eventually crack. Maybe they run drugs from Mexico together?

Intriguing start!

bermudaonion said...

You definitely need to make this a short story, then we can all say we knew you when. I have no clue where to take it - that's why I'm a reader and not a writer. Happy Thanksgiving.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have no idea either. But like Kathy, I'm not a writer so what would I know?!!! But I'm interested in how/why you picked the name Earlene.

Marie Cloutier said...

Jill, I don't know. It just sounded right to me at the time. Maybe I'll figure out a rationale as I go. :-)

Michelle said...

Dounds like we could have a little angst a brewin'! Definitely continue on :)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

From a reader's point of view I would like to know how Alice and Rob know each other and the cause of their awkwardness. This does look very promising. Please complete it and let us know what happens next.

Happy Thanksgiving

The Tome Traveller said...

Happy Thanksgiving Marie!

I think this would make a great short story, it is certainly a good start!


Carrie K said...

Wow, I'm really intrigued already! I have no new ideas to suggest, but I really want to hear what happens next!

Literary Feline said...

What a great writing exercise! I hope you'll share the rest with us once you decide what direction to go.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the weekend!

Alexia561 said...

Great job! The story pulled me in right away and I want to know what's the deal with Rob, why would Earlene bring him with her, and what happens next! Don't know where you should go next, but looking forward to the journey!

Zibilee said...

I'd really like to see more of that story and find out just how those people relate to each other. If you do decide to lengthen it, please do post it!