Writing Prompt Story Starter: Girl Train Driver

Shutterstock / Phovoir © story starter

This week’s Story Starter begins with a question: men’s roles, women’s roles . . . are they interchangeable?

A few weeks ago I took part in the recording of one of our podcasts.

Digital Ed Iain, Archives Barry, our Marion and myself, listened to a wonderful story from 1916 called “The Girl Engine Driver: A Tale Of A Race With A Forest Fire”, written by W.D. Morris.

You can listen to the episode here, or below:

A girl engine driver! The shock at thought of it!

You should listen to it and find out what happens. It really was a great story. And it got me thinking about how our current writers would tackle such a story.

Women in “traditional” male roles and occupations have always provided a great opportunity for gripping story-telling. In fact, some of the real-life stories of this are stranger than the fictitious ones!

For example, over the centuries there have been multiple stories of  girls dressing as boys to fight in wars.

Women were banned from the early space programmes in the US, as the ability to fly jet engines was one of the criteria. Rules at the time prevented women in the military from doing that.

When the Mercury 7 male astronauts were chosen, a privately funded programme selected the Mercury 13 women, and saw these female pilots go through the same tests as the men.

And they passed them.

Character driven

Of course, in the “Friend” our fiction reflects the strength and capability of women all the time.

Even when we read stories from our Archives from over one hundred years ago, the women are written as equal characters, no more so than during the war years.

How would you write a story about a woman in a traditionally male role?

The opportunities are plentiful. Perhaps you could write a story depicting a male character in a perceived “woman’s” role? Why not give it a go?

To pick out another Story Starter from the Fiction team, click here.

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!