Plotting Difficult Topics: Loss, action

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This is part of a series of posts on Plotting Difficult Topics

In Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories by Loren Niemi and Elizabeth Ellis, the authors recognize that how you approach a difficult subject can make huge differences in voice, POV, plot and resolution. They suggest 32 different approaches and this series of posts works out those approaches for the following scenario.

The Scenario: A girl watches her mother place a box of candy on the highest book shelf; the candy is meant as a birthday gift for the girl’s grandmother. The girl decides to sneak up and steal/eat some of the candy.

Loss, Actions

  • Loss, Actions, Testimony

    Why on earth that child stole from her grandmother, I don’t know. It was hard times and I’d saved pennies for a month to buy that box of candy for the old saint. She always gave up things for us and just for once, I wanted to honor her. Mother-in-laws are sometimes a trial, I know, but not mine. A true saint.
    So when I caught Mel hanging on that bookshelf with chocolate on her hands and lips, I got me a switch and lit in. Then I made her set up a table and try to sell the rest of the candies to her siblings, hoping to get enough for another box. In the end, I had to pinch a dime from my own hidden stash to add to the girl’s cash to afford another box.
    That girl. Nothin’ good will come of her.

  • Loss, Actions, Confession

    Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. Gluttony. Let me name them ALL. Gluttony. Jealousy. Coveting what belongs to another. Disobedient. Unkind. Selfish.
    “Child, how did you manage all that sin?”
    “I stole the candy meant for my grandmother’s birthday.”
    “Yes, and what else?”
    “That’s it.”
    I saw and I wanted. Coveting.
    I ate more than one piece. Gluttony.
    I didn’t care that it was for Grandma. Unkind.
    Ma told all us kids to leave the box along. Disobedience.
    I didn’t share any of it, not a single piece. Selfish.
    I wish I HAD shared with Bella, so she’d be in trouble, too. So, more sin. In my heart, anyway. Chocolate is the source of lots of sin.

  • Loss, Action, Therapy

    It was three days ago, so I’d totally forgotten it. Old stuff. Not important. Water under the bridge, to use Mom’s expression.
    But Mom was trippin’. Yelling and stuff.
    “How could you?”
    Shrug.
    “It was for Mimi.”
    “What’s the big deal?”
    It was the first time I connected things – my actions and punishment. She made me take every single book off the library shelves and dust them. Then I had to sort them into categories: fiction and non-fiction (sports, war, hunting, child-rearing). Then re-shelve each book, placing it just so on the lemon-polish-scented shelves.
    It Tom Sawyer hated painting that fence of his –man– I hated cleaning her library.
    Only good thing to come of it? I stopped and read a couple of the child-rearing books and I’ve got some good arguments now in my arsenal. Next time she pulls one strategy on me, I can counter that so-and-so suggests she do this-or-that instead.
    Looking forward to the next conversation we have about my behavior.

  • Loss, Action, Transformation

    The library shelves were covered with boxes of chocolate.
    “Where did they come from?” the woman asked in wonder.
    “I bought them. I want Mimi to have the finest birthday ever. Not just one box of chocolates, but dozens and dozens.”
    “But, why?”
    “Sit down,” she said. “I’ll tell you what I did when I was just ten years old and what I’ll never do again.”

This is part of a series of posts on Plotting Difficult Topics

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