The successful novelist

The successful novelist

The successful novelistMuch of that summer she stood guard duty at the palace. Rifle-barrel straight in spurred boots, her hair in a net under a polished coal-scuttle, she featured in many a tourist photo.

Watching the people, she found stories in all of them.

The middle-aged couple holding hands like teenagers – married, but not to one another. Here together, a stolen holiday.

The girl in the party dress, alone in the street – looking for White Rabbit.

The well-dressed man crumpled on a bench – all his wealth gone. Folly and greed.

Later the novelist would say: “That was when I learned my craft.”


© TheSupercargo

The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum. The prompt: a young woman in uniform standing guard outside the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Copyright in the prompt photo is held by Managua Gunn. To see a list of links to all the responses to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, click here.

25 thoughts on “The successful novelist”

    1. Now, now Perry. Don’t exaggerate. Your website is full of talent. I just read through “62 reasons why 60 is not the new 40” and I a) laughed at some of them & b) felt much younger than my 55 years because alot of the reasons clearly mean I must be 40. (Sneaking suspicion they actually mean I’m not American, but let’s not go there.) 🙂

    1. Yes, she really was making good use of her time. Not sure I’d be able to do the same if in her boots. Probably spend more time grumping about my feet. 🙂

  1. John, I always look forward to coming by to see what you’ve created, both in words and in pictures. As you said, I don’t know if I could do this, at least for all that time, but what excellent use of the time. It reminds me of what I do when I’m driving the six hours between Cleveland and Chicago, although I can at least move around and jot down a note or two (very carefully in sometimes-impossible-to-decipher chicken scratches).


    1. Thanks Janet, likewise. Six hour drives would certainly give you time to think. Some of my most ceative thinking seems to go on when I’m swimming. The problem is always holding on to good thoughts long enough so I can make a note of them after. I’m the guy in the men’s changing rooms hunched over his smartphone feverishly keying in words. No chicken scrawl, but the spelling is sometimes a challenge to interpret later!

  2. I was watching a program the other day where an actor was talking about one of his most important tools were his powers of observation. It’s what allows him to portray a character. I think the same could be said of a writer.

    1. Absolutely. The ability to round out believeable characters is essential. Of course there’s always more than that – plot, description, action and all the rest, but for me a satisfactory story (though not perhaps a piece of short flash fiction) has to have a recognisable person at its heart – or it has no heart.

  3. Firstly, I LOVE the layout of your site – the lined paper is really effective 🙂
    Great illustration, as always, and you’ve highlighted some really interesting characters, just the sort of thing you might notice if you were still for long enough. Most of us are too busy rushing around, I guess. This is a great take on the prompt!

    1. Thanks Trudy, glad you liked the story. The blog is powered by WordPress and the theme is Runo – a theme for writers made by Leena Lahti (LaLa) from Finland. I’m very happy with it. It’s particularly good for poetry as it makes it easy to insert spaces into lines. But I also like the open, clear appearance. Wanting to keep the look of the theme as far as possible, I’ve chosen to illustrate posts with my doodles, which I save as transparent png files so the ruled lines of the background show through. I believe I’ve seen one other Friday Fictioneer using the same theme.

    1. Thank you Björn. I’ve recently taken to street photography (pictures over on my other site at GBG365). It calls for a bit of nerve, but I’ve been able to take some really nice photos and it seems to help train the eye by helping one observe people more closely. Not quite the same thing as our palace guard here, of course, but it’s all grist to the writer’s mill. 🙂

  4. I loved the story and the illustration. When I’m sitting in an airport, I have those same thoughts. It’s fun to imagine what stories lie inside the people passing by. All writers can relate to this.

    1. Thanks, Russell. People travelling are a great source for storybuilding. All honour to airports, but I used better to enjoy my annual trips home to England from Sweden by boat and train. Before the low-price air travel journeys were more of an adventure. Especially on the ferries you saw people – couples, families, groups – interacting with one another in other ways than (nowadays) at airports.
      Oh dear, I seem to be getting to claiming “things were better in the old days”. Better stop! 🙂

  5. My favorite part is “The middle-aged couple holding hands like teenagers – married, but not to one another. Here together, a stolen holiday.” Stealing time from their spouses! Very nice.

  6. Thank yous for your comments to Joe and David – and to all the other Friday Fictioneers who visited and liked or commented. Much appreciated. It’s nearly time for the new week now!

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