Three Minute Fiction

On Sunday, NPR concluded the filing period for their third installment, of its Three Minute Fiction writing contest.  In this contest, entrants must submit an original work of no more than six-hundred words.  The work must have some connection with the photo posted above.

The first installment of this contest passed without my notice.  I participated in the second installment.  It had as its conceit, the required opening line, The nurse left work at five o’clock.  You can read my poor entry for that round, here.  It never garnered any comment, maybe its good intentions were not seen?

The picture for this story, features an open newspaper on a table.  The interior scene appears to be a coffee shop.  The exterior scene is a city street.  The newspaper could be being viewed through the window, with the reflected street behind the viewer standing on the sidewalk.  Conversely, the viewer could be inside seeing the reflection of the paper superimposed upon the exterior street.  I liked the fact that the photo’s viewpoint was ambiguous.

The announcement for the third round coincided with another NPR article entitled, Creepy Or Clever, Ads Offer Adventures In Voyeurism.  In this other article, author David Rose who compiles personal ads from the London Review of Books, talked about his new book on the subject, Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland.  This article in conjunction with the contest’s picture gave me an idea for a story. 

I thought that I could weave a dialogue between a man and a woman though a series of personal ads.  I assembled a list of some that I liked, some from David Rose and some from other sources.  The wit and humor in the ads that I liked energized me on this project.  Per David Rose here are a few:

Last time I placed an advert in here I got a great response from a lovely man who seemed ideal (remember those letters, swapping bits of Yeats with lines from Dylan songs?).  We arranged to meet at a nice restaurant South of the Thames.  Unfortunately I missed the date because on the way out of my flat I popped a Kegel.  That was almost three years ago, but after several surgical pubococcygeus restorative procedures and 30 months of contracting and relaxing and stopping mid-flow I’m finally ready for that Italian meal you promised.  If you’re still out there, Carl from Highbury, get in touch with Wendy, now 49 and fit enough downstairs to crack a walnut.  Otherwise any man to 55 who isn’t afraid of surgical knickers.  Box no. 9376.

I scrimshawed this advert from the tusk of a walrus.  Now make love to me.  Pathetic man, 49.   Box no. 9729.

Woman, 36, would love to meet man to 40 who doesn’t try to high-five her after sex.  You know who you are.   Box no. 9920.

I especially liked the phrase, You know who you are and so did NPR.  I liked it so much, that even before I wrote the story, I had entitled it, You know who you are.  It is a phrase much used by a fellow blogger, you know who you are.

Just as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so is the road to writing.  Procrastination is your enemy.  Tomorrow is always easier than today.  So today, instead of presenting you a brand new original work of fiction, I am giving the blogging version of the almost always trite, play within a play scenario.  I’m like the salesman on his knee, before his bride on their wedding night.  I’m telling you how great it is going to be, when I finally write this story.

The requirement that the pieces be an original work of fiction was my downfall.  The witty humor of the personals ads that I read were impossible to duplicate.  After awhile even using the fairly commonly used phrase, you know who you are, seemed like plagiarism.  I’m already well over my six-hundred word limit, but even so, I’ll leave you with a few more ads, all with more of an American flair:

Hideous-looking, obese, smelly, ill-tempered, lazy, cowardly and a complete liar seeks total opposite.  Box no. 4285.

Imp and angel.  Disembodied head in jar, 24, seeks pixie to fiddle with while Rome burns.  You bring marshmallows.  No.  I make joke.  You like laugh?  I like comebacks and confessions.  Send photo of someone else.  Box no. 4456.

If you are not giggling yet, this last one should make you laugh.  You know who you are.

Timber!  Falling downward is the lumber of my love.  You grind your axe of passion into my endangered headlands.  Don’t make me into a bureau.  I want to be lots and lots of toothpicks.  Box no. 4834.

Honest folks, I don’t write this stuff.  If I could, I would have entered the contest and probably won too.

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