“’My neighbor Mrs. Hartman said she had a cousin in the hospital over in Atlanta that told her that a patient there went out of his room to get a breath of fresh air, and they didn’t find him until six months later, locked out on the sixth-floor roof. Said by the time they found him, there wasn’t anything left but a skeleton in a hospital gown. Mr. Dunaway told me that when he was in the hospital, they stole his false teeth right out of the glass when he was being operated on. Now, what kind of a person would steal an old man’s teeth?’” – Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café
“Computer Boy swaggers over to my cube to help me open this one knucklehead email Phoenix sent me and within about, oh, two seconds, I’m ready to whip off his khakis and blow him right there.” -- Steve Almond, “Geek Player, Love Slayer”
“We have been lost to each other for so long.
My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.
This was not your fault, or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed to the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of my father, Jacob, and the celebrated chronicle of Joseph, my brother.” – Anita Diamant, The Red Tent
“Bert Baxter rang the school to ask me to call round urgently. Mr. Scruton told me off, he said the school telephone was not for the convenience of the pupils. Get stuffed, Scruton, you pop-eyed git!!! Bert was in a terrible state. He has lost his false teeth. He has had them since 1946, they have got sentimental value for him because they used to belong to his father.” -- Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾
“When I was a little girl I used to dress Barbie up without underpants. On the outside she’d look like the perfect lady. Tasteful plastic heels, tailored suit. But underneath she was naked. I’m a bail enforcement agent now – also known as a fugitive apprehension agent, also known as a bounty hunter. I bring ‘em back dead or alive. Or at least I try. And being a bail enforcement agent is sort of like being bare-bottom Barbie. …Okay, maybe it’s not like that for all enforcement agents, but I frequently feel like my privates are alfresco. Figuratively speaking.” – Janet Evanovich, High Five
In the above examples you may have noticed that:
1) You couldn’t swap them around: that is, you could never use the voice of Mrs. Threadgoode from Fried Green Tomatoes to tell the story of Stephanie Plum (High Five), or the voice of Dinah from The Red Tent to tell Adrian Mole’s tale.
2) You already know a whole lot about the narrator, just from the words and phrases he or she chooses.
3) You know that Fried Green Tomatoes is set in the South, and Adrian Mole lives in England, even though neither of those things is specifically stated.
4) Likewise, all of them are set in current time, except for The Red Tent.
5) You already have a pretty good idea whether this is a story/book you’d enjoy reading.
This Week’s Winner
With your writing getting stronger week by week, it’s become necessary for me to devise a tie-breaker. So what I’ve been doing (as you may have observed) is using the topic du jour as the deciding factor. Last week I talked about sympathy, and chose the winner based on how sympathetic I found the protagonist. This week, the topic is voice, giving Jeff the win. Although each of the stories was strong, Jeff’s did the best job of aligning the voice of the narrator/protagonist with the story he was telling.
The Heat of Battle
We had differing agendas. Our blades clanging and flashing in the light, I noticed he was staying close to the traditional moves. I was feinting with the old school approach, but I was going to throw a curveball every damn chance I got. The heat and pressure was getting to us both, I had seen him make at least a dozen missteps. Seeing the cracks in his attack I knew I had to press my advantage, use his weaknesses, and solidify my position.
Only one of us could be the new Iron Chef.
Next Week’s Prompt
It was a small thing, but the consequences....
If you'd like to play along, you can find the rules here.
Note: In answer to the question Steven G posted on last week's post, I'll talk about speculative fiction next week.