Things are getting tense…

August 16, 2015

A few weeks ago I visited my friends Eddie and Emma down on their farm in Dorset. We’ve been friends for close to twenty years, but, due to circumstances we’ve not managed to actually meet up for several years!

In the time since I lasted visited with my family, both Eddie and Emma have become self-employed, with Emma now responsible for the creation of Dorset Uglies.

One such ugly caught my eye:

Dorset Ugly - by Emma Mauger

Dorset Ugly – by Emma Mauger

This particular image conjured up the idea for a 75-word story, which I’m pleased to say I drafted in just a few short minutes and, while I was quite pleased with it, I felt there was something not quite right and shared it with the rest of WordWatchers via email. There’s usually somebody else from the group online and this time was no exception.

The original story runs thus:

It lurked in the darkness of the lake, eating only what the others found unpalatable. Occasionally it had slipped from the weeds, taken a bite of a tasty morsel and found itself hauled, gasping into the thin stuff where it could not breathe. It saw the look on the faces of the pink things. Sensed their horror as they quickly removed their hook from its mouth and allowed it to slither back into the abyss. 

WordWatchers quickly confirmed my suspicions – that the word ‘occasionally’ didn’t really work and it was suggested that I try the story in the present tense. Now, I do sometimes change tense in my 75-word stories simply to free up a few words to squeeze a story into the 75-word limit, but to change the tense of a story that was already exactly words…? Well, that was crazy talk.

However, I gave it a go and to my delight, a much better story (in my opinion) emerged, not least down to the tense change, although, changing the sentence that started with ‘occasionally’ did the story no harm at all.

It lurks in the darkness of the lake, eating only what the others find unpalatable. Driven by hunger it slips from the weeds, takes a bite of a tasty morsel and finds itself hauled, gasping, into the thin stuff where it cannot breathe. It sees the look on the faces of the pink things, senses their horror as they quickly remove their hook from its mouth and allow it to slither back into the abyss. 

So, much more immediacy in the present tense I think.

I am however curious to have your opinion too. Please feel free to comment below.

As ever, thanks for your time.

John Hoggard

John Hoggard

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