Sunday, August 5, 2007

Family Stories

Every time I get together with my dad, he tells the same story. I’ve heard the story a million times, and even if I say, “Dad, we’ve heard it before,” he tells the story again.
Here’s the story:

When I was two, we had a German shepherd named Winnie. My dad wanted to train her to pull me in a sled, so he began by harnessing the dog to a stroller. To add weight, he put his toolbox on the seat. The rattling tools startled the dog, so she would bolt in effort to escape whatever horrible thing was chasing her. Eventually she became used to the noise and developed a rhythm. When there was snow on the ground, my dad harnessed Winnie to the sled, again weighted by the tool box. Confident that the dog would pull me all right, my dad strapped me to the sled. Winnie pulled the sled smoothly away from the house. She trotted and wagged her tail and stayed alongside my father. However, on the way home, it was a different story. When Winnie saw the ranch house at the end of the street, she raced toward it like a thoroughbred. I screamed and hung on. My dad ran behind us shouting commands at the dog and told me to not let go.

Winnie bolted around the bend and onto the driveway. The sled overturned, dumping me into a pile of recently shoveled snow. I cried, and Dad brushed the snow off me. I don’t remember if my dad ever tried it again.

Whenever he tells the story, my dad laughs until he’s in tears. I’ve heard it so many times that I just roll my eyes. So far my kids haven’t tired of the story and encourage their PopPop to tell it.
Think about your own family stories. Do you have an annoying relative who tells the same stories over and over again? Do you listen politely or leave the room? What stories about your parents and grandparents have you heard? What stories would you like passed down through the generations? Write down these stories. Flesh out the characters. Add dialogue and action. Share them...

I've added a new section the the CS Writing Workshop page called Creating Memorable Characters. It's a course I used to teach, but now I'm offering it on my website for free. Each week I'll add new notes and exercises.


helmsdeep said...

Are you from Alaska? I ask because I'm from there and the dog sledding images were evocative of my childhood there. Check out my blog, I would love to exchange links!

Rita Marie Keller said...

Thanks for visiting. No, I'm not from Alaska. I'm actually from Central Pennsylvania. I'd love to exchange links! On my way to visit your blog...

Alex Adams said...

Oh that's hysterical! :D

I can see the whole thing.