I had lots of ideas about how the story could be expanded into a book. I ended up with something that I would describe as more a vignette than a full-blown story because anything else would have made the story too long. My main character had problems particular to her height that no one else would have if they weren’t a dwarf themselves. She had married a “tall” man and doubted her decision. Her perception of how a dwarf fit into our society controlled the story.
The dwarf story evolved from a couple of paragraphs that I wrote in Fiction Techniques about a newly married woman jumping out of a truck at a red light in downtown Vegas to follow a group of men dressed up like Elvis. If you’re thinking that the first line of the story is “The light turned red.” you’re absolutely right. I had a lot of fun too, experimenting with two characters from southern Texaswhere my parents lived. The dialogue that I used for the two characters was full of twang and hot sauce and references to being a short-order cook and The Flamingo in Las Vegas.
The class was more receptive to this story I think mainly because it was more upbeat. Someone did talk about an article she’d read in the New Yorker and how I’d strayed from the facts. I did use material from the same article to create a café in the story, but interpreted some of the material in a different way from the student who quoted the article.
That question from the previous chapter was popping up again. Is it okay to use “real” material? I decided that it didn’t matter if I used the café from the article that seemed to fit so perfectly with my character. I couldn’t resist and didn’t think it would be an issue because I’d been faithful to the details outlined in the article except that I interpreted a “slower pace” of business in the café as meaning that a waitress would actually have time to talk to the customers.
My fellow student didn’t think that the waitress would’ve had that extra time and made a point of complaining about my using the article. I guess there’s always going to be someone who wants to try and find a flaw in whatever we write.
I would like to think that using ideas from a New Yorker article about a Vegas café are what people are talking about when they say write what you know. Writing strictly from my own experiences has always seemed to be too confining. I like the idea of creating as many different characters as I can, all of them totally fictional. And even if my settings are based on bits and pieces of other places, up to that point I had used mostly fictional composites.