This vintage American truck caught my eye this week and seemed like a perfect Story Starter writing prompt.
What does it say to you? To me it’s inescapably America in the early 50s. Boys with slick quiffs, jeans, t-shirts, trying to look like James Dean or Marlon Brando. Giggling flirty girls in dirndl skirts and ponytails. Diners. Schools and letter jackets.
The music. Gosh, where do I start on the music? A period of transition from the traditional balladeers to the impudent new arrival, rock and roll.
What else does the US in the 50s bring to mind? I see typical mom-dad-two-kids families. TVs becoming commonplace in homes. Refrigerators. Those big old cars with bench seats.
But that’s all the cosy apple-pie aspects. Think about the Cold War, too. The Civil Rights movement.
Sputnik! Space exploration.
Think beyond these shores
I was at a function recently and got chatting to a lovely lady who happens to be a writer, though not for The People’s Friend. But she was very interested in The People’s Friend which she reads avidly. She asked me if we like stories that aren’t set in the UK. And that’s what has prompted this post, because, yes, we very much do. I wish more writers would think beyond these familiar shores for their story settings.
Not only that, but it tends to be the same periods that get covered again and again.
I can understand why. One of the first pieces of advice for any writer is to read the magazine and see the kinds of stories we include. And it’s natural for any writer to notice, say, a number of wartime stories set in England and think, Ah, they like them – that’s what I’ll write.
But please, resist that first impulse.
It’s true that we might like some stories on a theme like that. But what stand out for us are those that are completely different and offer us, and more importantly our readers, a fresh reading experience.
Like a story set in 1950s small-town America when a vintage truck like this took a boy and girl out on their first shy date….