Story Starter: Jet Plane


I’m leaving on a jet plane – tralalallala….

Do you remember that? John Denver from 1969, though I think it’s actually the Peter, Paul and Mary version from two years earlier that’s in my head. Gosh, sometimes I forget how the years have racked up! When/how did that happen?

Anyway,  does the picture start your thoughts winging to wherever that flight might be going – or have come from? The passengers, the baggage – both literal and emotional? The airport? I can’t remember where this one was, but the odds are that it was Edinburgh, or a city in Germany. That grey sky makes me suspect Edinburgh.

Behind the scenes at an airport’s an interesting setting for a story that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered. But gee, think of the scope! The staff – check-in desk staff, shop staff, security staff, beauty salon staff. Fire crew. Flight crew parading through a terminal in all their matching finery – they always have that haughty look, I think, like a mini all-conquering army.

Stressed travellers. Lost documents. Lost luggage. Burst open luggage. Reunions and tearful farewells.

Business travellers – holidaymakers – quite different kinds of customers with completely different attitudes to their flight.

Cancelled flights throwing careful plans into disarray. Their flight being cancelled could actually be a bonus for someone terrified of flying….though the terrified flyer is a relatively familiar story line you’d have to be particularly inventive with to make work.

Think different

And that’s a good point to make here. I’ve been reading the entries for a competition recently, and while some of the stories were brilliantly creative, I was disappointed by just how many stories were about grandmothers, and widowed grandmothers in particular. Easily half of the submitted entries. Now, the stories were meant to be for “a women’s magazine”. But they knew I was the judge. So whether the entrants had assumed that’s the sole People’s Friend demographic,  or all People’s Friend readers want to read… But the People’s Friend is so much more than that and it was disheartening to see so many writers stuck in that old rut.

So, think fresh and inventive, please. Read the magazine. See how far we’ve come….

Do these work?

This week on Facebook we shared a photo of Shirley, Tracey and Angela, holding a lovely bunch of flowers. They are from a writer who had their first story published in the “Friend” just two years ago, now celebrating a 3 book deal with Headline.

Pick up that pen! If you need inspiration, Shirley’s Writer’s Tools will help guide you.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.

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