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Creative Writing, Creative writing lessons

Just the ticket

wheel clamp

I hate traffic wardens. And I really hated this one. He was standing by my car, hunched over his pad like a sweating gargoyle when I got back with my ticket.

‘I’ve only been away five minutes,’ I said.

He didn’t look up. Just scratch, scratch, scratch at his pad.

I waved my ticket. ‘Look. I’ve just been to get it. You can’t do me for this. It’s ridiculous.’

He kept on scratching, so I thrust the ticket right under his nose. ‘See?’

He lifted his head then. Looked at my ticket. Put his whole pasty paw around it, tugged it from my fingers, screwed it up and threw it on the ground.

I looked at it, and then I looked at him. ‘You’re insane,’ I said.

But he just ripped the page from his book and slapped it in my hand. ‘You’re the one who’s insane, sunshine. Here. Have a fixed penalty notice from me. ’

I was going to hit him then, right in his little blobby jobsworth’s nose. My hand was tight in a fist, like this.

But he just looked at me and you know what? His little pouchy eyes began to fill with tears and he said, ‘Go on hit me. I don’t care. I’ve been waiting to do you. Ever since you drove on to a pavement last year and killed my daughter.’

This was part of an exercise I set for my students last night, to demonstrate showing and telling, and how you could use anger to move a story along. I gave them six lines of dialogue featuring an impossible traffic warden. And then I thought this morning that it might be interesting to look at it from the traffic warden’s point of view.

Picture via Creative Commons courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_clamp

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About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I like to; even when I can't think of much to say.

Discussion

24 thoughts on “Just the ticket

  1. You got me on that one. I never saw it coming., i.e. I never knew you taught writing. (Just kidding – the “killed my daughter” bit was the bit that fooled me). I thought it was marvellous.

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | October 10, 2014, 6:32 pm
    • I have reservations about it. But still, thank you!

      Posted by elainecanham | October 10, 2014, 6:51 pm
    • Sometimes fiction writers forget they’re writing fiction. I don’t believe one has to plug every gap in every dike.

      Posted by Bruce Goodman | October 10, 2014, 7:40 pm
    • No you’re right. I think there should be gaps. I think I agree with Naptime Thoughts, though, it probably finished too quickly. Doesn’t matter. On to the next…

      Posted by elainecanham | October 10, 2014, 8:13 pm
    • Are you sure you want to agree with me when I’m about to say this?
      He said “plug every gap in every dike”.
      No one should agree with me, ever.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | October 10, 2014, 11:22 pm
    • But if I agree with that, then I am perforce not agreeing with you. And that is blowing the dust off my brain’s little logic diodes, in spasmic puffs.

      Posted by elainecanham | October 11, 2014, 5:17 pm
  2. I don’t like that one… It got all sad at the end, and I just want to laugh at the traffic wardens’ pasty paw. Meh on you.

    Posted by naptimethoughts | October 10, 2014, 5:06 pm
    • Sorry. NTT. It was just an exercise. I’m surprised how many people have read it, actually. I did think of the traffic warden pointing out a dead cat under the front wheel, but I went for melodrama instead. Might be better with a dead cat though….esp if it belonged to the warden.

      Posted by elainecanham | October 10, 2014, 5:08 pm
    • Worse with a dead cat! I like cats way better than people.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | October 10, 2014, 6:18 pm
    • It was great, by the way. I never saw it coming.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | October 10, 2014, 6:36 pm
    • You can’t not like it and think it was great! (Although it’s very nice of you) As I was just saying to Bruce, I have some reservations about it. It’s not quite right, and I can’t put my finger on why that is. Possibly a bit too much of a shock. I dunno. It’s only words. On to the next.

      Posted by elainecanham | October 10, 2014, 6:53 pm
    • I didn’t like it because it made me all sad at the end, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It’s so funny, and then… Sad. Like premature ejaculation.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | October 10, 2014, 7:07 pm
    • That made me laugh so much. I think you’re right; it probably needs a bit more in the middle. Too much of a shock. Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know I buckled down and finnished that report. Only two more to go…..and they’re already facilitating stuff. What is it with that word?

      Posted by elainecanham | October 10, 2014, 7:20 pm
    • I don’t know, everybody’s always facilitating crap, it makes them sound busy and important. I think you’re right about the shock. I can’t stop laughing so fast. I need a laugh slow down.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | October 10, 2014, 7:32 pm
  3. I agree it’s very effective. It’s all in the timing and point of view. I was just reviewing a thriller I read where the author plays very effectively with points of view and it’s made me think a fair bit…

    Posted by olganm | October 10, 2014, 3:17 pm
  4. Nice twist. I liked it.

    Posted by sueannporter1 | October 10, 2014, 2:12 pm
  5. Same here. Did not see that coming at all. Love “sweating gargoyle'” by the way.

    Posted by David Pandolfe | October 10, 2014, 1:34 pm
    • Thanks David. One of the other things we did in class was think up new descriptions – by jamming unexpected words together. So I thought about that too when I wrote this. One of the students got ‘geranium hair’ which worked really well in her story.

      Posted by elainecanham | October 10, 2014, 1:38 pm
  6. Heck, I was taking it so seriously until that sucker punch got me.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | October 10, 2014, 1:30 pm
    • Thanks David! (Hey, I’m bidding on ebay for something. I’ve remembered your advice, but I’m not sure my nerves will let me take it to the wire)

      Posted by elainecanham | October 10, 2014, 1:35 pm
  7. Wow! Didn’t see that one coming. Very effective, IMO.

    Posted by lbwoodgate | October 10, 2014, 1:16 pm

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