Anatomy of a story – FlashFriday #37

Today I’ve decided to do something different with my ‘post game’ analysis of my FlashFiction story.  Today, rather than watching the actual story develop, I’m going to talk about how the idea of the story developed and the adventure and inspiration behind the story.

Last week’s FlashFiction challenge was posted here:

Flash! Friday # 37

(and if you have the time, please read through the stories.  There are some amazing writers competing and telling stories here every Friday.)

The first thing I did was look at the picture, and then left  it alone.  When I looked at it in the morning, the first thing that ran through my mind was: “Of course we didn’t live at the North Pole back then…”

What evolved was a series of short stories, all telling the story from different points of view  using different methods.

The first, most basic version was as follows:

“Of course, I was very young then and I didn’t live at the North Pole,” the old man told the reporter as he looked at the picture: a baby, sitting in a cart being pulled by a goat.

“Snowball,” he said smiling as he tapped the picture.  “Her name was snowball. “

“Her?” the reporter asked pointing to the horns.

“Do not let the horns fool you.  We lived in a very tough part of Slovenia…”

The reporter looked the picture and shook his head, knowing his credibility as a reporter would be shot after this.  Perhaps he’d reinvent himself as a taco vendor.

104 words, but I wasn’t sure if I really liked the story.  I mean… it was cute enough and it covered the ground and the word count was right but, especially in a short story, especially a FlashFiction in a contest… it wasn’t really… enough.

For me Flash isn’t the speed… flash is the story.  It has to spark something.  So… I tried another approach…

The reporter shook his head as he looked at the picture the old man had handed him.  He knew that after this interview his credibility would be shot.  As he began contemplating a new career path the man smiled fondly at the image: a goat pulling a cart.

“Snowball,” the man said fondly.  The man tapped the picture.  “Her name was snowball.”


“Of course, I was very young then.”

‘… and hadn’t had as much to drink…’

“And I didn’t live at the North Pole,” the old man droned on.

‘… I wonder if it’s too late to become a taco vendor…’

And I was debating about posting this story but it still lacked a certain something, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned is… if the story does nothing for you, the writer… how is it going to move anyone else?

I did actually go to post this story, and on my way to ‘reply’… I started reading the other stories people had posted.  There were a lot of goat puns and I was about to comment something about ‘Dromedary Comedy’  which wasn’t quite right since dromedaries are camels and llamas.  So I googled to find out how related goats were to camels… I found they were related at the Family level… making them very distant relatives.

So I drilled down on the classification and found that goats, and goat-like objects were classified as Caprinae.  That was the moment of inspiration: something clicked and my mind went immediately to “Carpe Diem”… No… Caprinae Diem! From there the story pretty much flowed.  It took me three drafts to come up with the story (which got an honorable mention).

Caprinae Diem

Ian shook his head in dismay: for the life of him he would never understand what passed for ‘logic’ in a fairy’s mind.

“What… did you do?” he demanded as he tried to pull his son from the cart they’d hitched to a goat’s back.

The fairies gathered around for a moment chattering before the head fairy looked at him and shrugged.

“You said the one piece of advice you’d give him was ‘Caprinae Diem.’

Ian bowed his head.

“No, you fools!  I said Carpe Diem!”

“Oh,” the head fairy said in a disappointed tone before perking up…

“Quick boys, get this man a fish!”

Unlike the previous story, this one filled my heart with glee, and while I wasn’t sure others would get the whole thing (People don’t always get my sense of humor) This was the story I posted.  (and it still lifts my spirits when I read it)

I spent about an hour on the first story and maybe 25 minutes on the second.  That’s the nature of writing to me.  Think about what inspires you to write and drop me a line, better yet, write a story!

Until the next time…

August 21, 2013


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