Sunday, May 09, 2010

Starting points.

Yesterday I appeared with four other RNA writers at Chelmsford library. The panel were in the middle of answering a question from the audience, about where we find our inspiration, when the fire alarm went off.
It wasn't a drill, it was a genuine alarm and sixty or so people were efficiently directed into the street. We were obliged to move away from the building in case the glass exploded; at the pelican crossing, much to the surprise of the traffic,we all trooped across. Those of us without coats huddled under a bus shelter; it was raining and cold, and it wasn't until some 15 minutes later we were told we could return.
Chelmsford library is part of County Hall, and we were allowed into the huge vestibule which serves both places.
Immediately our eyes were drawn to an unfortunate bride, beautiful in a strapless white dress, clutching her bouquet; there were three identically dressed adult bridesmaids and three children -- the children were sitting on the steps and they all looked miserable and cold. There was no sign of the groom or best man amongst those waiting.
As Maureen Lee, Jean Fullerton, Fay Cunningham,Sheila Norton and myself shivered our way back to the upstairs room to resume our talk we discussed this fleeting image as a starting point for a story.
Fay, who writes crime, said the husband to be had been knocked down in a planned hit and run. Sheila suggested the bride had been about to marry the wrong man and the right man appeared in the foyer, Maureen thought the fire alarm had been set off by a disgruntled ex-girlfriend in order to ruin the big day. Jean and I, the historical novelists, imagined the shivering girl was part of a bridal party locked out of a church, jilted by her fiance who had absconded with her settlement.
If we actually wrote the story there would be five completely different versions although we'd all had the same stimulus.
I would like to thank those that organised the event for us at Chelmsford, they were friendly and helpful and the cakes were delicious. Back on the diet this morning!!
Fenella Miller


kate tremayne said...

This was a poignant moment for you to share with us Fenella. I really felt anguish for the bride although as a writer my mind instantly devised at least three different scenarios from this moment. And then there was the fire alarm going off itself. How many chance encounters could that have thrown up romantically, crimewise and certainly create suspenseful building for another opening scene.

I am sure your talks must have inspired and sent home more than one new writer who attended to hunt down pen and paper or nudge their partner or children off the computer and burst into creativity.

Fenella Miller said...

I'm itching to write the abandoned bride story -but must finsih edits for another book first.

Monica Fairview said...

You've really painted a desolate picture of that bride. How very sad! I can see why you'd want to write a story.

Glad you were all safe and no harm done.

Fenella Miller said...

When we left an hour or so later the foyer was empty and the be-ribboned car gone. I hope it took a happily married young woman away in it.

Olivia Ryan said...

Hi Fenella. I suspect the bride and groom will always enjoy telling that story about their rather unusual wedding day, in years to come! Hope the rest of their day went well (as ours did, once we warmed up, didn't it!).

Heather Snow said... alarm set off by disgruntled ex-girlfriend. How utterly rotten :)

So true, though, your point. I once had a friend tell me how she and another author decided to write a book with the exact same plot, turns, etc. Both ended up selling the books, which of course turned out completely different.

Fenella Miller said...

The Essex Writers' Panel are giving library talks all over Essex over the next few months - so far we've done two and both have been completely different although the format was the same.
I'm sure that the other six will be as varied as our idea for a short story involving the poor bride.