Unwrapping the Story
By Cait Collins
One of the problems with having a big family is trying to find a time for everyone to get together to celebrate the holidays. At Christmas it’s often eat fast, exchange gifts, and go to the in-laws or rush off to have dinner with the significant other’s family. And sometimes, it’s just seems like crossing one more items off the list.
One of my sisters had a new idea. She and another sister gathered prizes and over 300 feet of plastic wrap. They wrapped the prizes into two balls of plastic. The younger children were given the smaller ball and a pair of dice. They stood around a table. One child had the ball and the child on the right rolled the dice. The child with the ball could unwrap the plastic until doubles were rolled. The ball and dice were passed to the right. This continued until all the prizes were found.
Adults and older kids were up next. The ball was larger and the contestants were handicapped. We had to wear oven mitts when unwrapping the plastic. I assure you it was not an easy task. About the time I found a thread, someone yelled, “Doubles,” and I had to pass the ball. The unraveling took around 45 minutes filled with laughter and teasing. I truly enjoyed myself. The best part was dinner and the games came before the gift exchange. We were together longer.
Sometimes I feel writing my stories is similar to the plastic ball of surprises. I have a story line and characters, but the details are harder to come by. Characters are never introduced fully developed. The layers are revealed by circumstances, developments, triumphs, and disappointments. Each layer revealed shows the characters’ strengths, weaknesses, hopes and dreams. The revelations create likable and relatable heroes and heroines along with despicable villains.
The story also has layers. The events must unfold along a believable time line. And characters must be introduced at the proper time with just the right amount of detail. Like the handicap of wearing oven mitts when unwrapping the plastic ball, the story must have roadblocks and time constraints. The plot cannot be too easy or too predictable.
When a story seems to take a wrong turn or lose focus, instead of giving up, roll the dice, hope for doubles, and receive the ball with the expectation of finding a new part of the story puzzle. Never lose sight of the goal…a story the reader will enjoy and want to read again. Above all, do not forget the fun in finding a new character or story twist. And never let allow the handicaps to defeat you. Grab the ball and shake the bindings until they loosen and the treasures fall out. The tidbits are the gems that make the story.