“Any subject can be fascinating if it’s well written. Do you have a specific topic in mind?”
Margaret looked down at her lap and spoke almost in a whisper. “I was remembering the first time I shaved my legs,” she said. “My father didn’t tell me anything about how to do it.”
“Oh, that’s a wonderful story!” I replied. “I’d love to hear a story like that about one of my grandmothers!”
“I can’t hear!” “What’s did she say?” My reaction had raised everyone’s curiosity.
“Do you mind if I tell them what you said?”
She blushed and shrugged in agreement, and the large group responded like school kids. Everyone turned to a neighbor and began talking at once. “I remember the first time I shaved …” Men and women alike had shaving stories. Margaret’s shy question had touched every heart in the room, bonding them into one big memory mass. Aside from any interest for descendants, this seemingly mundane topic revived youthful memories and added extra zest to the day. Everyone had extra spring in their step when they left the room after the program ended a few minutes later.
Her core question was how she could take make such a mundane matter into something other people would be interested in. The first step is to lock in content. Looking at the woman’s brief topic statement, several story possibilities emerge. A few starter questions are:
- How did she happen to choose that day for her first shave?
- Had she been teased about hairy legs, felt self-conscious … ?
- How long did it take her to build up to this event?
- Did she ask permission, or just do it?
- What sort of razor did she use? Shaving soap or cream? Blade?
- How did she feel afterward?
Margaret’s statement raises an intriguing and uniquely personal question: why did she mention her father as the person who had not taught her what she needed to know? Most girls would turn to their mothers with questions like this. That one phrase hints at a much larger encompassing story.
That list of questions could be adapted for any similar personal anecdote to identify the basic story. The next step is to give your story a highly personal voice and add sparkle. This calls for adding plenty of sensory description, like the smell of shaving cream, the feel of the suds and the razor slipping across your skin or pulling against stubborn hairs. You might mention the sting of a nick or red blood flowing wetly from a gash. Details like these, along with your feelings and thoughts about the event, will set your story apart and delight your readers.
To answer Margaret’s original question, no, nothing is too silly or mundane to write about if you use your imagination and look at it from a creative new angle.
Write now: use these guidelines to write about your first shaving experience. Include lots of sensory description along with your thoughts and feelings to make a compelling story of this rite of passage.