July 6, 2012

"F" Words

by Annette Cole Mastron

Fourth of July week often finds us appreciating the joys of summer. As your holiday develops, grab a notebook or your camera phone and record events of the day. 

Try to remember the funny hat and feed sack dress Aunt Susie had on at the family and friend finger lickin’ good picnic.  You'll have a picture and can write a whole paragraph about her. The placing of your family's flag on your front porch celebrates our freedoms as Americans. If your family cleans off the graves of fallen patriots and Cousin Josie gets chased by a cow while the whole family watches bent over belly laughing, a picture can help you build a chapter highlighting the event. As kids raid the freezer for Fudgesicles and the frosty frozen fudge goodness drips down their now chocolate faces; describe it in a scene for your next story. 

Does your neighborhood have a parade complete with fire trucks, floats where minor celebrities hang on for dear life? Children ride in a convoy on red, white and blue-decorated bikes with streamers fluttering on the handlebars and cards clothes pinned to the tire spokes? File in your mind, parents following to get candid photographs of the decorated bike winners. Savor the experience so you can write about it. Parades are almost passé, so it's worth writing into your stories.  

Is the Fourth a scorching fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk kind of day with fluffy fleecy clouds? Or will you escape the heat by retreating to catch the latest blockbuster film in the comfort of a freezing theatre? Do you celebrate by floating around at the closest swimming hole or pool? After the celebration of the day, when everyone kicks back talking in quiet circles, observe the peace and harmony of the day. Try to capture the day's activities by jotting some notes that you can later use in your writing. 

As suppertime approaches, food is reorganized, kids and grands awake from naps while the setup process begins for the evening fireworks. At dusk a firefly lands on your father's finger, he carefully finagles his catch in a Mason jar, complete with a holes-punched lid. Children pass the prized jar, laughing each time the glowing light appears and grows brighter as the evening falls. 

Scenarios abound for your writing. The trick is to remember so a few pictures or scribbled words in your notebook will help when all alone sitting at your computer with the blinking cursor. When fireworks begin, if you have a sound app you could record the boom a firework makes just before they light up the sky. Could someone time a murder and the sound of a shot to be completely covered by the firework boom? How will you the writer know if you don't record the sounds? Remember the Brian De Palma written and directed film Blowout with a young John Travolta ? About a "B movie" sound recordist in the right place at the wrong time, who records the sound evidence that proves a fatal car accident was actually murder, and is thrown into danger. Hey, writers, does this give you any ideas?

Holiday-only moments come about 10 times a year. I count Halloween and my birthday. Holidays are the perfect opportunity for a writer to develop an unlimited personal resource library of ideas and events that can be developed, enriching their work. So for me this holiday is all about the "F" words; Fourth of July, flag, freedom, funny, feed-sack, family, friends, finger-lickin’-good-food , fallen patriots, fire trucks, floats, fluttering, file, following, frosty frozen fudge-sickles, faces, fry, fluffy, fleecy, film, freezing, floating, father's finger, finagles, fireflies, falls, and fireworks. To name a few.


This month Southern Writers is also celebrating our anniversary, and we want you to enjoy every page of our latest issue, for free!  You can access the online edition immediately at:


  1. "Forgot" some other "F" words, Uncle "Freddy" doing the "Funky" Chicken dance by "firelight" glow, while we all "fell" over laughing as tears "flowed freely". What are your "f" words of the fourth"

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