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Bob Nailor


Today is December 23rd. Only two days until Christmas, or if you wish, tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

For a writer, it is a time to gaze out on the winter scenes of snow and holiday mayhem and find a story. Why is that? Simple. Christmas stories are due in about 3 to 6 months from now. Many magazines and marketing outlets will be actively searching for Christmas styled tales starting about March and continue through until maybe late July.

So, now is the time to grasp that moment when Aunt Ruth's Flaming Turkey Wings burned the house down or that horrendous tie for Uncle Floyd when awry, put it to words and start making those memorable moments pay off for you.

Remember, writers write the best about what they know. The closer to the heart, the better the story sounds. Of course, if you need, you can always fictionalize it to some extent.

I was exhausted, at the mall, and in control of approximately eight, maybe it was twenty-two bags of purchases. As I sat, resting on a coveted padded seat by a fountain, I gazed at a local store where an extremely heavy woman waddled in with three urchins in tow.

As they entered the establishment, it was like an explosion as the three kids raced in different directions to the discomfort of the woman. As I watched, I suddenly realized that the 'children' weren't truly kids but little people posing as children and the truth was, the heavyset woman was posing as being pregnant. It was a ruse. The children were pickpockets and very well trained shoplifters.

I couldn't believe my eyes! I waited.

Finally the woman lumbered out of the store, once more having gathered her companions to her. What I saw was four more shopping bags.

In reality, they weren't shoplifting. The three pickpockets were, in fact, my children. The woman was my lovely wife who wasn't really fat, but, indeed, pregnant with our fourth child.

As a writer, sometimes I need to let my imagination run loose and when it does, a story will come to life. The above scenario is a short story I wrote titled Shoplifting Elves which was published in a now defunct magazine.

So, take a few moments from your hectic holiday scramblings and notice your surroundings. Sit in a mall and watch the people around you. Be discreet. It is a fine line between watching a person and staring at them.

You might even find yourself talking to a total stranger and learning a secret. An old man sitting next to seemed very intent on a particular store. At first I thought him to be a dirty old man since the store was Victoria's Secret but he finally said something and we started to talk. I discovered his wife always threatened him that she would go in and buy something sexy. As he said, she goes in but never buys. THEN I learned the secret. His wife had passed two years earlier and now he came to store and imagined that she was in the store, shopping and hoped she would soon come out with a purchase. He'd wait a couple of hours and then go home, alone. It was such a sad story. That story? Vickie's Secret. It has yet to find a home but it will.

Remember, now is the time to let the holiday spirit slap you in the face and write that story which will render the heart to tears. Right after the New Year, do the edits and by March, it will be ready to send out when the magazines are looking for that heart-jerking tale.

Merry Christmas and Happy Writing.

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Elyse Salpeter
I had no idea where you were going with this until I realized what you were doing! I do this all the time. Though I stare at people and think I have a superpower to make them skinnier without them noticing, give a bald guy hair, or make someone taller - imagining what they would want to change about themselves and how I could help them. That is, if they wished to be changed at all. Great post!
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Tara Fairfield
You're funny bob, I could totally relate to this. Merry Christmas!
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Onisha Ellis
I do believe you can spin a story out of any situation. Great advice about writing for next Christmas.
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