Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mr. Stan Standish

It was the middle of the morning and the funeral director wondered, "Where is Frank?" "He should have dug the hole by now."

Frank, the mortician’s assistant, the groundskeeper for the cemetery had not called to inform Mr. Stan Standish, that the grave had been dug and prepared for this morning's burial.

Frank, a punctual man, who pays attention to details and rarely, if ever misses a day’s work, had not called as of 9:00 am. The funeral starts at 10:00 and Mr. Standish was starting to get nervous.

This is the exact reason Frank was hired in the first place so that he would no longer have to check to see if the hole had been dug. With Frank, all the details including the gravesite chairs and tent covering were always ready.

For the first time in as many years, Mr. Standish now had to drive up to the cemetery before the funeral to make sure all was in order. After all, the man being buried today was once the town's main benefactor, Mr. Wellington.

Pulling up the drive of the cemetery, he came to a sudden stop; the gate was closed! “Where is Frank?” 

Fiddling in his pocket, Mr. Standish was hoping he still carried a key to the gate. “Of all days not to come to work, Frank sure picked the wrong day, he thought to himself.” “Ah, he breathed, as he slid the key in the lock and then pushed open the gate.”

Rolling up to the gardener’s shed, he was relieved to see Frank’s Ford truck. He must have come through the back gate and not unlocked the front.

 “Frank! Frank! Where are you my good man?” But, there was no reply.

Looking up the hill, he saw where the gravesite was being prepared, so he got in his car and drove up the hill. “Whose idea was it to put the town’s cemetery on a high hill, he thought to himself.  What a precarious place for the living to bury the dead.”

Getting out of his Lincoln, Stan was perplexed. Everything seemed to be in order. The tent was up, along with the chairs, and the hole seemed to be dug from the pile of dirt hidden behind the backside of the tent. “But, where is Frank?”

Peering over the rail of the newly dug grave, he found his answer. 

Frank, lay flat out at the bottom of the grave, like a chalk outlined body of someone who had been murdered.  

“He must have fallen over the railing and broken his back.” "Sigh!"

With much, too much, to do today, Stan shoveled enough dirt to cover Frank’s body.  Then getting back in his car, he drove to the funeral home, conducted Mr. Wellington’s burial. 

Finally, collapsing into his black leather custom office chair, he thought, "Dead men tell no tales. Frank’s story will have to wait." 

Flash Fiction June 20th, 2015, Mr. Stan Standish, By Peggy Jo Farr

Friday, June 19, 2015

Writing The First Chapter

When beginning the first chapter it is a good idea to think like a filmmaker when it comes to creating your stories setting and background.  What would you put in front of the camera? How would you clue in your reader to where the story takes place? If your story has cataclysmic shifts be sure to paint the before and after scenes clearly, muddy or vague settings or backdrops confuse readers.

Choosing a backdrop is important so choose one that helps you tell the story. Remember a backdrop will carry expectations, moods, and increase suspense, which will help your story move along. When you create a background, you are setting the tone of the novel. 

Creating your background gives your story voice, shares a message, and a theme. Work to be consistent. What are you intentions? Where is the story heading? Build your ending into the beginning of your novel by purposefully structuring or framing the world in which your characters come to life and live.

Whatever your tone of the story is, be clear and consistent from the beginning. The tone you set in the first chapter must percolate through your story to finish well.